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Cleveland Cavaliers 2022-2023 Season Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers 2022-2023 Season Preview
Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers finally got a chance to build a competitive roster without the presence of LeBron James. The Akron, Ohio native left the team on two separate occasions. Each time James left, the competitive value of the group went down significantly. It took the team three years to get back into playoff contention. The difference between now and the LeBron years is that the front office is building a core more geared toward long-term success. The Cavs made moves to acquire players such as Jarrett Allen and Caris Levert that would significantly impact the team.

Cleveland finally got back into the playoff conversation after a three-year hiatus. But it was cut short in the play-in tournament when they faced the Atlanta Hawks. Despite not advancing past the play-in tournament, the Cavaliers progressed in how their team competed in the Eastern Conference. Star players Darius Garland and Evan Mobley led the team in categories such as points per game, rebounds, steals, blocks, and assists.

Offseason Moves

Leading up to the preseason, the first Woj Bomb was dropped regarding a team that no one expected to land near. ESPN’s NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cavaliers acquired star shooting guard Donavon Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. In return, the Jazz received guard Colin Sexton, forward Lauri Markkanen, rookie wing Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027, and 2029), and two pick swaps (2026 and 2028). The team also brought back guard Ricky Rubio when they signed him to a three-year, $18.4 million contract.

Rubio was an impact player for the Cavaliers’ second unit before suffering a torn ACL injury. He averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per night. Rubio was involved in a trade to the Indiana Pacers so that they could acquire Caris Levert. Once the season was over, Rubio became a free agent. The Cleveland front office wasted no time bringing back the veteran point guard. Outside of acquiring Mitchell from Utah, the team extended point guard Darius Garland to a five-year, $193 million deal in July.

Projected Starting Five

PG: Darius Garland

SG: Donovan Mitchell

SF: Isaac Okoro

PF: Evan Mobley

C: Jarrett Allen

Projected Outlook: Playoff Contender

The move to acquire Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz makes it almost sure that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference this season. The team also has a strong nucleus of players surrounding the All-Star shooting guard. The only stumbling block that may hinder Cleveland once the postseason starts is the lack of playoff experience among their core young players. The team is set up for long-term success in the Eastern Conference.

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