ESPN posted their Cleveland Cavaliers predictions and preview on Friday. In case you missed it, out of the ten ESPN.com writers featured there were zero who suggested Cleveland will be a playoff team this season.
This total includes former Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer Brian Windhorst, who has the Cavaliers finishing 11th in the East, with the following commentary on this season’s version of the Cavaliers:
“Obviously they’re still reeling from the loss of LeBron James. Hard to judge them because injuries have made it impossible for Byron Scott to even see what his new team looks like. They could become a fringe playoff team or sink to the very bottom depending on if they use their $14.5 million trade exception to improve.”
In projecting the Cavaliers to finish 11th, Windhorst expects Cleveland to be ahead of only Philly, New Jersey, Indiana, and Toronto in the final standings.
Chris Broussard has Cleveland finishing ahead of a couple more teams than that though, for whatever that’s worth.
Broussard has Cleveland pegged for the 9th spot, which is the highest prediction of the ten analysts featured, still obviously stopping short of the playoffs. That’s the best you’re gonna find from the mothership though Cavs fans. Nobody else even has Cleveland finishing as high as 10th in the East besides Broussard, who’s comments were as follows:
“No team has a bigger chip on its shoulder than the Cavs, who want to show the world they’re not the scrubs they’re perceived to be. Willpower only gets you so far, though. Eventually, talent wins, and while the Cavs will have their feel-good moments, they just don’t have the firepower.”
Funny man J.A. Adande has the Cavaliers finishing dead last in the East, and he’s the only guy to go quite that far.
What’s most intersting though, or depressing depending on how you want to look at it, is the collective spot ESPN has Cleveland slated for in their “Complete Standings” predictions.
Combining each of the ten analysts predictions together – the average prediciton for the Cavaliers from ESPN.com’s panel is 12.2.
You see that initially and think that means the Cavs are – on average – being projected to finish better than the 13th, 14th, and 15th ranked teams in East at least, right? Not so.
When the teams are then slotted according to their average ranking, the Cavaliers are picked – as a consensus from ESPN’s Basketball Analysts – to finish 14th in the East this season.
That’s second last, ahead of only Toronto. There’s no way they could be that bad, right?
I really doubt it. I continue to think the eighth seed is a real possibility. We’ll find out soon enough for sure though.
In the meantime, it might make Cavs fans more optimistic to see that at least locally there is not as much doom in the forecast.
Terry Pluto – in the PD’s Cavs preview this morning - has Cleveland finishing 6th out East winning 46, with the following comments in the PD this morning:
“Cavs surprise with their hustle and grit and make it an interesting season for hardcore Cavs fans.”
On the flip side, Bill Livingston has the Cavs finishing 12th and winning 30. Everybody else is somewhere in the middle, finishing 8th or 9th winning between 35 and 41 games.
So, we’ll see what happens I guess.