In the NBA, there are legitimate championship contenders, and then there are teams that are could-be-contenders but are probably one piece away from seriously challenging for the world championship.
The former category includes teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks, the league’s only undefeated team, the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors.
In the second category, there are two teams in particular that seem that close to true title contention, and they could look to be active in the trade market later in the season to find that one player who could put them over the top.
Last year’s Eastern Conference champs have a 4-2 record and are fourth in offensive rating, but that stat is misleading, as they only have three players who average double figures.
Last June, Boston lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals partly because it lacked any real scoring punch off the bench, and while Malcolm Brogdon has helped in that regard, it needs another player in a similar mold in the frontcourt.
To that end, it signed veteran sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari during the offseason, but he suffered an ACL injury and will not play this season.
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Mitchell and fellow All-Star Darius Garland (who is currently out with an eye injury) form one of the best backcourts in the NBA, while Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen give Cleveland a young and formidable frontcourt.
But other than Kevin Love, who was a candidate for last season’s Sixth Man of the Year award, the team lacks pop off the bench.
The addition of a veteran who can score as a reserve would go a long way towards helping the Cavs mature and become a true title contender.