The 2017-2018 Cleveland Cavaliers could be the greatest Cavs team ever

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 10: Dwyane Wade /

The 2017-2018 version of the Cleveland Cavaliers could be the greatest Cavs team ever when the smoke settles on this season’s NBA Finals.

Tip-off time, basketball fans.

The Cleveland Cavaliers begin their defense of their Eastern Conference Championship with the Golden State Warriors in their cross hares.

Dan Gilbert took a beating for letting David Griffin walk at the end of the season, yet all he did was promote Koby Altman (after a failing to hire Chauncey Billups) and the 34-year-old made the Cavs better.

This may seem like sacrilege, because after all, the team that won the NBA championship just two seasons ago set the standard.

But these Cavs can be better. Granted, the lottery tickets Dan Gilbert bought this offseason all have to pay out, but you’ve got to like his odds. It’s like he’s playing Pick-3, and not the mega millions.

Defining “better” is all relative. Remember, though, division championships, power rankings and ESPN’s BPI aren’t worth a rip. For the Cavs, it’s a title a bust.

Being better means being better than Golden State’s “Big Four” when the final whistle blows on the season, and this team, as its constructed, is capable.

Winning the whole enchilada gets LeBron his second ring in three years with his hometown team. Anything short of a Larry O’Brien Trophy, though, will cast doubts over the future of basketball in Cleveland.

LeBron, D-Rose, D-Wade, Isaiah Thomas–they can all walk at season’s end.

Fortunately, the early preseason returns are good.

Derrick Rose, despite multiple knee injuries, is still very, very quick. He can still create his own shot and finish around the hoop.

Dwyane Wade also appears to have something left in the tank. If coach Ty Lue can successfully mange his fuel levels, he will be a valuable weapon in the Finals.

Isaiah Thomas is an all-star player when healthy, who still carries a chip on his shoulder. If he comes back in January and the same type of player the basketball world saw one year ago, lookout, the Cavs will be deadlier.

If Thomas can start during the playoffs, Derrick Rose will likely be headed for the bench. Imagine the options the depth gives Lue. Derrick Rose or J.R. Smith can be his first substitution.

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Kevin Love will start at center. He’s not the offensive glass cleaner Tristan Thompson is, but he’s a terrific defensive rebounder and his ability to knock down shots from beyond-the-arc can be game changing

There’s also Kyle Korver. He’s a deadly shooter who won’t be asked to do anything else other than to cash in some corner 3-pointers. New 6-foot-9 forward Jeff Green can play as well. At 31, Green’s athletic, possesses a high basketball IQ, will be a better passer than most think, and he can guard other athletic wings.

Heck, Jae Crowder‘s name hasn’t even been mentioned yet. Crowder is expected to start. He’s a tough player who’s earned a defensive reputation around the league, and he’ll be better than you might expect from beyond the arc.

God bless Richard Jefferson, but the fact the Cavs were able to release him speaks volumes as to how much better and deeper the team has become.

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It might take until May to see this plan together, but if the Cavs knock off the Warriors during The Finals, this team should be seen as the greatest to ever wear a Cleveland uniform.