Oh, what a story it has been. When this all started 13 years ago, nobody believed that it would end like this. Cleveland, the city of hapless and losing franchises picked up LeBron James in 2003. He was hailed as the savior and immediately picked to be the one to lead the Cavaliers to a championship. Well, for a long time that dream was just that: a dream. Once LeBron left and Kyrie came to the fold, people soon proclaimed HIM to be the Cavs new superstar. Well, that never really happened either.
It wasn’t until this summer, that everything the Cavs have hoped to achieve for years finally came to be. They stand here today as the reigning NBA champions after a grueling and unpredictable 7 game series against one of the best teams of all-time. However, the summer is coming to a close now and the focus is beginning to shift on the season ahead rather than the season behind.
The question now looming over Cavs fans is: Can they do it again?
It is very possible when you consider how much better this team can get. It seems very likely that this Cavs team will continue to get better as they spend more time playing. Players will continue to develop and mesh with their teammates much faster than they did last year.
Channing Frye (for example) was acquired by the club last year in a midseason deal, and he played well for them with no real chance to mesh with his new teammates. This year, with more practice time, he could become even more lethal.
We can also look at Tyronn Lue, who was promoted midseason and given the reigns to the team after firing a former coach, David Blatt. While you can say Lue did an exceptional job, he never really got the chance to fully utilize his system last season. Now, though, Lue has plenty of time to teach the team how he wants them to play the game.
And of course, let’s not forget about Kevin Love, who has been pretty up and down his entire time with Cleveland. With Love and the team now having a championship already in place, he could feel a lot less pressure than he did before. He can now feel free to play HIS game, without worrying about what the city of Cleveland thinks of him. Who knows, maybe we’ll see the old “Minnesota” Kevin again.
With all the guys mentioned, though, none may be more ready for a repeat than the teams two superstars, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. They are really starting to mesh together well, with LeBron as the leader, and Kyrie as the closer. Irving is still young too, with plenty of room to get better. As long as these two stay healthy, the Cavs will (at the very LEAST) be relevant.
As far as competition goes, one team immediately comes to mind as the biggest threat to the Cavs and their crown. Steph Curry, and his club over in Oakland. The “superteam” they have built down there has made them the overwhelming favorites to win it all this season. But who says that the Warriors get it right away? Maybe Golden State needs a year to figure it out, like LeBrons 2010 Miami team did. We have yet to see this team play together, and we have all seen how differently a team could play once the post-season starts. The point is, there is no guarantee the Warriors will be the team everyone envisions. It may take time….a lot of time.
As far as the Eastern Conference goes, who can stand in Cleveland’s way? Toronto is good, but they seem to fall under the playoff pressure. New York grabbed some big pieces, and may be a team that makes it far into the postseason. But can they really beat the Cavs in a seven game series? Boston is a deep team but have no real superstar to lead them through LeBron and Irving. And Chicago? Well, they just don’t seem to have enough. Can an older DWade, bad-shot Rondo, and Jimmy Butler get past the Cavaliers? Truth be told, they'd be lucky to make it to the second round.
It is clear that the only thing standing in the way of Cleveland lifting the championship trophy for the second year in a row is themselves. While it will not be an easy road (is it ever?) the stage is set again for the Cavs to mark their place in NBA history. The ceiling is as high as its ever been for the champs.