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2022-2023 NBA Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a good team. If they remained healthy, they could have been a team with a secured playoff spot instead of dropping into the play-in, losing in both games. In January and February, the Cavs spent every day moving up and down the Eastern Conference standings, gravitating between the second and sixth seed.

Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen became first-time All-Stars while Evan Mobley was in a tight race for Rookie of the Year. Seemingly re-inventing himself after being visibly frustrated with his situation in Cleveland, Kevin Love has become a crucial piece off the bench and a vocal leader with championship experience.

Darius Garland #10 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates during the first half
Rick Osentoski - Getty Images - AFP

All signs point to the Cavaliers taking that next step and maybe even more. It certainly was more apparent after they made the trade for Donovan Mitchell.

Let’s check the latest NBA picks, stats, injury reports and NBA predictions. We’ve plenty of NBA expert picks for you to consider.

Cleveland Cavaliers Odds

  • To win the NBA championship +3000
  • To win Eastern Conference +1400
  • To win Central Division +350
  • To make playoffs Yes -270 / No +210

Player to Watch

All-Star Donovan Mitchell was traded to the Cavaliers from the Utah Jazz for a massive haul of players and draft picks. He immediately changes the franchise’s expectations, from an exciting young team to possible Eastern Conference contenders.

Mitchell has been an All-Star in the last three seasons as one of the best shooting guards in the Western Conference. In his five seasons in the NBA, he has never averaged under 20 points, putting up 25.9 points and a career-high 5.3 assists last season.

On offense, the backcourt pairing between Mitchell and Garland could be exhilarating. The downside is they are smallish guards that could struggle on defense.

Earlier in his career, Mitchell was seen as a plus defender but with his growing offensive role, his defense suffered. Now on a team that doesn’t need him to be the main offensive threat, maybe his defense could once again become serviceable.

  • Player to Watch: G Donovan Mitchell

Breakout Player

The Cavaliers have talent in the guard and wing rooms, but the issue is it mostly falls on the offensive side. We have already mentioned Mitchell and Garland shortcomings on this defensive end. Backups Caris LeVert and Ricky Rubio, who is recovering from ACL surgery, have never proven to be more than average on defense.

Isaac Okoro is the only perimeter player who will get quilty minutes on this roster that can be a defensive strength. Just about every night, Okoro will draw the best offensive perimeter scorer on the opposing team and will need to hold his own.

That is a lot of pressure on a third-year player, but he will be crucial for the Cavaliers’ success this season. Okoro could show improvement on the offensive side of the ball, but he does not need to expand his game too much, due to what is around him.

  • Breakout Player: F Isaac Okoro

Cavaliers Outlook

The Cavaliers have done an excellent job acquiring young talent to build a team that probably should have been a playoff team last season. That gives them more than enough confidence to go out and make a move to push them immediately into the playoff conversation.

Mitchell fits the timeline of the roster at just 26 years old but also provides much-needed playoff experience that the young players didn’t get last season. Even with the possibility of defensive flaws, the roster has players to cover for that, mainly in Allen and Mobley as rim protectors.

Competing for the Eastern Conference title seems like a leap, but the possibility of winning the Central Division does not seem out of grasp and the playoffs almost seem like a lock.

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