Photo Credit: HoopsHype
After an astonishingly bad start to the 2018-2019 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have become…respectable? While the Cavs are still a dismal 17-53 for the season, there is a reason to be hopeful for next year and beyond about a return to contention for the Cavaliers.
With the franchise cornerstone Kevin Love going down with a foot injury four games into the season, the Cavs entered tank mode from the start. Without Love, Cleveland struggled mightily, but since he has come back and due to the unexpected increase in the level of play by Collin Sexton, these post-all-star break Cavs have actually been formidable. Since Love has returned, in games he has played in the Cavs are 6-6 including a blowout of the Toronto Raptors.
In this last month of games, Collin Sexton has put up impressive shooting splits 44/38/86. Sexton has proven to have the potential to be a premier NBA scorer in the future. His combination of speed, finishing ability at the rim, and three-point shooting should only improve in the years to come, and he’s already at least league average in those areas. The other member of this duo, Kevin Love is back to doing Kevin Love things. The veteran big man is putting up 18 points, 10 boards, and 2 assists since his return, and has freed up space for younger players like Clarkson, Sexton, and Osman to operate. When these two share the floor together, the Cavaliers basically play their opponent to a draw (-0.2 point differential) which has been a significant jump from the team’s net rating on the season.
With Sexton’s improvement and Love’s return, the Cavs have reason to be hopeful for next season and beyond. They will most likely have a top 3 pick in the draft and another pick in the 20s (Houston’s). They also have the option to deal Love for more picks and young players over the offseason. This Cavs team that has made a significant jump as of late, could be much more talented and ready to compete for a playoff spot next season.