Wyatt Cushman, Staff Writer |
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the most dominant franchises in the NBA over the last four seasons, (or three and a half for that matter). When LeBron James left for Miami back in 2010, the Cavaliers went into rebuilding mode and struggled with a young point guard, Kyrie Irving. Once James came back to Cleveland in 2014, the Cavaliers turned into an Eastern Conference powerhouse, and have made it to the last three NBA Finals, going up against the Golden State Warriors each time, with the Cavs winning once in 2016. Before this season, everyone thought it was a guarantee that we would see a fourth straight Cavs-Warriors Finals matchup, but right now what we all thought was inevitable, is looking much less straightforward.
The Cavaliers started this season just 3-4 in their first seven games, which isn’t ideal for any team with the hopes of winning a championship at seasons end but hopefully will be a wake up call that they need to play better. After the gloomy start, things seemed to be looking up for the LeBron James led Cavs, as they went on a 13-game winning streak to put themselves up towards the top of the Eastern Conference standings with the Boston Celtics. Since that time the Cavaliers have reverted back to their mediocre ways, however, and currently sit at just 30-20 on the season, good enough for third in the Eastern Conference.
Now it doesn’t sound like a bad thing to be third in your conference halfway through the season, but considering the Cavaliers went 13-0 during one stretch and are now 16-19 outside of that, it doesn’t give you confidence in them. So, the question that arises from all of this is how can the Cavaliers get back to the level of play they were at when they won those 13 games in a row? They certainly need to fix their defensive unit, which currently ranks near the bottom of the league in numerous categories. In the month of January, the Cavs allowed 109.5 points per game, second worst in the league behind the Sacramento Kings. If their defense can improve, this team will see results.
The Cavaliers want and need their defense to improve, but it won’t magically happen after an intense practice or a team meeting, or at least that doesn’t seem very likely. They may need to make a trade before the trade deadlines come, on February 8.
One option that has swirled around the air is George Hill. Hill is a veteran point guard of the Sacramento Kings. The thought is that his leadership and defensive ability would elevate the position, as Isaiah Thomas is a liability on the defensive end. Another name that has come up in trade rumors is Kemba Walker, the point guard of the Charlotte Hornets. The rumor is that the Cavaliers contacted Charlotte about the availability of Walker, though nothing further has happened outside of those talks. Much like Hill, his addition would help the Cavaliers backcourt defensively, and Kemba would add a more than capable scorer on the offensive end as well. These two players are intriguing, and would add depth and leadership, along with that desired defensive help.
Although nothing has happened, there is still time. It appears very clear that the Cavaliers need to do something with their roster, especially if they want to keep LeBron James around next season. If the Cavaliers plan on making a fourth straight trip to the Finals with the intention of also keeping one of the greatest players ever, they need someone to help boost them back to a championship caliber level.