The Cleveland Cavs are one of the big surprises in the NBA, as fans wonder if the team could somehow qualify for the postseason for the first time in four seasons.
So, can they make the postseason?
ESPN looked at the team’s chances (subscription required), and while author Kevin Pelton acknowledges Cleveland is slam dunking on expectations, the team might fall just short of a postseason spot in a competitive Eastern Conference.
1. The Cavs were predicted to win 26.5 games before the season tipped. At 11-10, it looks like they’ll shatter that number, assuming everyone stays healthy. It’s impressive, considering the brutal road trips the team has been forced to play in the early portion of the schedule.
2. Felton writes J.B. Bickerstaff’s crew is predicted to win just 42 percent of their remaining games, which would put their win total at 37. The writer contends that the number might not be enough to make it to the play-in game.
Cavs shouldn’t make trade to get low seed
3. The playoffs, or the play-in game is a great goal for a young team. At some point, these guys need to know they’re capable of winning. If Cleveland keeps going about its business, they’ll be in the conversation.
4. That said, I hope the Cavs don’t make a short-term move this season just to make the playoffs. I don’t think they’ll do it, nor should they.
5. I know we’re weary of the lottery, but another trip wouldn’t be the worst thing. The Cavs have a potential annual All-Star on the team in Evan Mobley. They’re saying he’s a mix of Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett. Bosh was great, but the Garnett comparisons are what perks my ears.
6. Now, they’ve got to find someone to pair with Mobley–preferably a wing. Long term, it’s not Cedi Osman.
5. Ricky Rubio is probably going to have some serious trade value closer to the deadline. I’d be hesitant to trade him. I know he’s not a cornerstone piece, but the guy makes things happen on the court. He’s always moving. He looks to pass first, but can score. Behind Mobley, he’s the player I enjoy watching the most.
6. If we’re to be blunt about what core of a championship team looks like in the future, Mobley and Darius Garland is where you’d start.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently spread on local radio, but questioned whether he could be a No. 2 option behind Mobley.
Windy said he wasn’t sure yet, but definitely a top four player. Again, this goes back to the point, the Cavs need to find someone else, and that’s why another trip to the lottery wouldn’t be the worst thing.