WESLEY BRYANT | SPORTS COLUMNIST
After their recent roster acquisitions, the Cleveland Cavaliers can now be in the conversation for an NBA title.
The trade that saved their year can be simply put as creating something out of nothing. The Cavs now have something that they didn’t have as much of before, which is height and toughness. While unfortunate, the loss of Anderson Varejao to injury really helped the Cavs.
By losing Varejao, the Cavs were forced to address the situation. As one well known quote says, “Something good can come out of a bad situation.”
The Cavs, as constituted before the injury, wouldn’t have been able to compete with the few elite teams in the East and the rest of the Western Conference.
Furthermore, the Varejao injury, paired with a six-game losing streak, the time was right for the Cleveland front office to make a big change. By acquiring J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in a three-team deal that involved getting rid of Dion Waiters, the Cavs have addressed the need for mental-toughness.
Smith is a player capable of scoring 20+ on any given night.
Also, he will do whatever it takes to win a game. He is very similar to Dennis Rodman in terms of his craziness. The great Rodman himself even sent out a tweet crowning Smith as the new Dennis Rodman. These two wouldn’t mind brawling it out on the court and would do some strange things for a victory. Remember the time when J.R. Smith intentionally untied Shawn Marion’s shoelace? So do I.
Even with LeBron as the mature calm, leader he is, he wouldn’t go the extra mile to faze his opponents like Smith. Every team needs that one player with the mentality of a Rodman or Smith and the Cavs definitely have that now.
The Cavaliers hit the jackpot again two days later by getting 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets to address a serious need for height. Having Mozgov means that the Cavs can compete with the likes of Paul Gasol, Roy Hibbert and all other seven-footers in the league. In no way do I applaud a player getting hurt; Varejao is a decent center at 6’10, but the lack of height was evident and his job at center was overwhelming. When the game was close, Cleveland never gave him the minutes to close out because he couldn’t matchup with the opposing teams height. However, Mozgov is able to take on that load and is currently averaging nearly a double-double in rebounding and scoring as a starter.
Though it’s probable that the Cavs won’t have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, with a weak Eastern Conference, the Cavs can still make some noise in the postseason.
It’s still unknown if the all-time leading three-point scorer, Ray Allen, will sign with them. Signing Allen would be key, but we have to deal with what’s happening now and that involves the current roster.
To sum this roster up realistically, in a weak Eastern Conference, Cleveland can advance to the Finals. However, it will be tough beating the likes of the Spurs, Warriors and other contenders in the West in a seven-game series.
At the end of the day, losing Varejao forced the Cavs to their roster in order to become a title-contender, which will give them a better shot at beating whoever comes out of the difficult Western Conference.