On July 1st, Klutch Sports Group reported on Twitter that LeBron James had signed a 4 year, 154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. This was a huge announcement, as LeBron is one of the best players of all time, if not the best. Although he is “out of his prime”, LeBron is still without a doubt the best player in the world. So that’s why it was such a big deal when he left his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, for Los Angeles.
Speaking of Cleveland, can they still be a playoff team in the East without LeBron? Well, they still have Kevin Love, an all-star and olympian. However, he is 29 and not the same player he used to be. They also have the 8th pick in the draft, point guard Collin Sexton. Aside from them, they have a plethora of role players, including Kyle Korver, J.R Smith, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson, George Hill, Cedi Osman, etc.. Rodney Hood is also a restricted free agent.
So the Cavs have a decent roster, but is it playoff worthy? The eastern conference is extremely weak, so maybe they can. If were thinking about teams, then there are only 10 teams with a chance. The Raptors, Celtics, Sixers, and Bucks are all finals contenders, so they should make the playoffs no problem (unless injuries). The Wizards, Pacers, and Heat are all also good teams. That is seven of the eight possible playoff teams.
For the final spot, it goes down to the Cavs, Detroit Pistons, and Charlotte Hornets. The Knicks could have pushed for a playoff spot if Kristaps Porzingis was healthy. He is supposed to miss considerable time at the beginning of the season with a torn A.C.L. As for the three remaining teams, I think it goes down to the Pistons or Cavs. The Hornets have Kemba Walker, but that’s pretty much it. However, they could surprise a lot of people. Along with Kemba, Charlotte acquired Miles Bridges with the 12th pick in the draft, who I believe will be very good if he can improve on his ball handling and shooting. They also drafted Malik Monk last year, who when given the opportunity was incredible. With a full season of opportunity, he could make a big impact. Other young players who could do well are Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon, and Devonte’ Graham. Along with good role players (when healthy) Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, the Hornets could surprise a lot of people and squeeze into the playoffs. For the Pistons, they hired former Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who could make a huge difference. If Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson both stay healthy, then it would make a huge difference. Also, last year’s lottery pick Luke Kennard is in a similar situation to Malik Monk. He could also make a big impact. They drafted Khyri Thomas, a good 3 and D wing, and if Stanley Johnson improves, then they could truly make the playoffs. As for the Cavs, I already covered them. So I think the Cavs actually have a big chance to make the playoffs, and the 8th seed is up for grabs. In conclusion, I think the Cavs are a playoff level team, but only in the East.