This was a team that had the third overall pick in last year’s NBA draft after compiling a 22-50 record.
However, the Cavaliers did not have a strong close to the season after going 35-23 before the All-Star break.
Tuesday’s loss to the lowly Orlando Magic dropped Cleveland to 43-37.
Giving them just an 8-14 record in the second half of the year.
Even with this latest slide, the Cavaliers’ 2021-22 season exceeded all expectations heading into the season.
And even provided fans with some hope for the future.
Cavaliers Projected To Be Cellar Dwellers
In ESPN’s preseason power rankings for the 2021-22 season, the Cavaliers came in at 26.
ESPN had them forecasted to finish 26-56 while FiveThirtyEight had them at 25-57.
Caesars Sportsbook set their over/under win total at 26.5.
While their young talent showed promise last season, they had not shown enough to hint at a possible playoff team.
There was also the potential issue of fit.
Analysts were skeptical about all those big men sharing the court and finding minutes for all of them.
Cleveland would quickly go out and prove those concerns to be inconsequential.
The offense ranked in the bottom third of the league, but they also only got 11 games out of Collin Sexton.
Markkanen and Mobley provided enough shooting to pair with Allen.
Darius Garland since the All-Star Break:
▫️ 25.2 PPG
▫️ 10.4 APG
▫️ 3.5 RPG
▫️ 1.6 SPG
▫️ 42.8% FG
▫️ 38.2% 3PT
▫️ 87.2% FT
▫️ 55.5% TS%
Only Cavaliers Player with a Positive +/- since the All-Star Break pic.twitter.com/zHd01dQupi
— 🧣 (@Precision80) April 6, 2022
While Darius Garland seemingly took the next step towards stardom as an NBA guard.
Defensively is where the Cavaliers really shined.
Allen and Mobley were a two-headed monster in the paint.
They spearheaded a defense that has allowed a meager 105.4 points per game – the fourth-fewest allowed in the league.
Similar to last year, the offense will need some work, but Cleveland’s defense is among the league’s best.
For a team projected to finish in the bottom five of the league, a potential playoff appearance is a win.
Cavs Finally Have Hope For The Future
Another win for the Cavaliers this season has been the further development of their young players.
Mobley is a candidate for Rookie of the Year honors thanks to his sensational two-way play.
Defensively, he performed to the level draft experts expected and then some.
Mobley swatted 1.6 shots per game this season and deterred any who entered the paint.
He also tacked on 0.8 steals per game and displayed the ability to switch onto smaller, faster guards and wings while holding his own.
The NBA has released its latest Rookie of the Year rankings:
1. Evan Mobley
2. Cade Cunningham
3. Scottie Barnes
4. Jalen Green
5. Franz Wagner
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) April 6, 2022
Offensively, he displayed a versatile game as he did in college.
While only shooting 25% from deep, his jump shot seemed fluid and should lead to more success in the future.
Overall, he shot 51% from the field for 14.9 points per game.
Mobley appears to be a future star but he is not alone on the Cavs roster.
As mentioned earlier, Garland took another step forward in his third year as a pro.
He averaged 21.7 points per game on .461/.379/.890 shooting splits while dishing out 8.7 assists.
Allen and Markkanen seem to also be cornerstone pieces at the ages of 23 and 24, respectively.
Isaac Okoro, their 2020 first-round pick, has the makings of a starting-caliber three-and-D wing.
The 6-foot-5 Auburn product knocked down 35% of his threes this season while guarding the opposing team’s best wing scorer.
For the first time in the post-LeBron era, Cleveland has hope for the future.