Needless to say, I disagree.
Look, I can understand why people are down on the Cavs. I get it. They're a flawed team whose roster hasn't changed in basically two seasons. Anderson Varejao is holding out (Pavlovic just inked a reasonable deal). The East has improved (but, honestly, by that much?). I get the negativity. I have some of it as well.
But the Cavs are the 9th best team in the conference? Really? I mean, I can't honestly think that Simmons actually believes this (I honestly think he's just tweaking Cleveland fans). Worse than Indiana? Worse than Atlanta? Why would they slip behind New Jersey? Or Detroit?
Do people really think that Anderson Varejao means that much? Hustle points and flops are an 11 win difference?
Personally, I think the Cavs will match their win total of the last two seasons. 50 games. Two years ago they overachieved to reach 50, while last year they kind of underachieved. This year, I think they'll 'achieve' and get 50.
Sure, they're gonna have a brutal start (a West coast trip right out of the gate) and they'll miss Varejao. But for the first half of last season, LeBron played with a back court of Snow and Hughes. This year he's upgrading his PG from 'terrible' to 'lights out'. You think that won't help with some double teams?
Finally there's this:
At age 22 and entering his fifth NBA season, James has never been in better shape or worked harder on his game at this stage of the season. In theory, this is good news for the Cavs: A motivated superstar is perhaps the grandest weapon in the modern NBA.and this:
LeBron didn’t shoot much but he passed well and, most interestingly, Mike Brown ran a bunch of post up plays for him and he worked down there well. He may very well have the best season of his career if he keeps this up.Plus there were those reports that LeBron's been working on his jumper.
So you're telling me that the Eastern Conference Champion is returning everyone but their backup power forward, they're replacing Eric Snow's jumper with Daniel Gibson's and LeBron James is not only in the best shape of his career, but he's sporting an improved jumper AND he's working well in the post... they're going to get worse?
Don't get me wrong, I expect this team to struggle at times. I have no faith in Mike Brown's offense. I hate Larry Hughes with a passion. I wish they'd use the post more often (meaning, sometimes).
However, despite what you saw in the San Antonio series, the Cavs aren't terrible. They have issues, but they aren't awful. They may struggle at first (and I expect them to) but they'll be fine.
Game recaps start tomorrow.