AKRON, Ohio — Nothing really matters until the Cavaliers take the court, but it’s always interesting to see where the national media thinks they rank entering the season.
For hall-of-fame writer Marc Stein of The Stein Line, that would be ninth-best in the entire NBA.
Not too shabby. But Stein has the Cavs finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference — or one spot worse than last season — behind the Bucks, Celtics, Heat and Knicks, respectively.
New York bounced Cleveland from the first round of the playoffs, and fairly easily. Miami advanced all the way from the play-in tournament to the Finals. And Milwaukee added Damian Lillard to Giannis Antetokounmpo, while Boston added Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
But hey, the Cavs already had Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and an up-and-coming Evan Mobley, and went out and got additional outside shooting in the form of Max Strus and Georges Niang. So there’s plenty to like.
There is also a little bit of pressure, at least from fans and media, for the Cavs to return to the playoffs and give a better showing. And frankly, advance.
“Much of the good vibes generated by a 51-win season and their greatest success without LeBron James on the roster since way back in 1992-93 were wiped out by a meek showing in the first round of the playoffs that resulted in a five-game exit in Round 1 against the lower-seeded Knicks,” Stein wrote.
“The Cavaliers, as a result, enter the new season feeling a good amount of angst. Maybe it’s not quite Philly or Miami levels of pressure … or maybe it is. Donovan Mitchell can become a free agent in the summer of 2025 and the current marquee quartet of Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen is about to get really expensive.”
Fifth in the East? Ninth in the NBA? It’s all just a prediction. But Stein is correct when he mentions there’s lots of competition in the conference. Just about every team likes their chances. The Cavs do too. Now, let’s see what becomes of it.
Tomorrow: The NBA's 78th season begins …
Today: Nearly 4,000 words of Power Rankings goodness from The Committee (of One) …
Read here: https://t.co/9Ti5fj6so8
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 23, 2023