Central Division Power Rankings To Start The NBA Season

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Oct 28, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots a free throw during the second half at FedExForum. Cleveland Cavaliers beat Memphis Grizzlies 106-76. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

No team in the Eastern Conference comes into this season with higher expectations than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Despite suffering numerous injuries throughout their run last year, the Cavs still pushed the Golden State Warriors to the brink in the NBA Finals.

All of the core players from last season’s team have returned, and the Cavs were able to add to their depth by signing the likes of Mo Williams.

No team in the NBA boasts a better big three at the moment than the Cavs. LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA, having been to the Finals in six consecutive seasons.

Kyrie Irving is among the league’s best scorers, capable of putting up 40 any night he steps on the floor.

Kevin Love is also a formidable threat, providing the Cavs with rebounding and stretching the floor for Irving and James.

One key to the Cavs season will ultimately be how they integrate their star players. If they are going to return to the Finals, they’ll ultimately need to increase Kevin Love’s role on the team.

Too often last season, the Cavs restricted Love to a stretch four role. Love is one of the best low-post players in the game, capable of scoring in numerous ways and providing his teammates with pinpoint passes.

Involving him in the offense more would force defenses to consider doubling him down low. This would inversely open up the shots for the likes of Irving and James.

The Cavs will also need an improved effort on defense from their star players. Irving and Love are both sub-par defenders, leaving their defense exposed against good teams.

As the Cavs demonstrated in the Finals, they’re more than capable of adjusting their style depending on who they’re playing. Getting them to do this on a consistent basis is critical.

The Cavs, however are not limited to their big three. Timofey Mozgov emerged as one of the league’s premier big men during the playoffs and is more than capable of functioning as the interior presence they desperately need on the defensive end.

Tristan Thompson, who recently re-signed, also emerged as a solid contributor, giving the Cavs rebounding and another nice interior defense. With him, Mozgov, and Love, the Cavs boast one of the better front courts in the NBA.

Ultimately, the only thing holding the Cavs back is health. Kyrie Irving is expected to miss the start of the season. James has many miles on him and will likely see his regular season burden reduced after being run into the ground last year.

Other important players, such as Iman Shumpert, Anderson Varejao, and Kevin Love also have track records of being injured throughout their careers. Thus, if the Cavs are going to truly challenge for the title this year, they’ll need to protect their key guys over the course of the season.

The Cavs will end up with the best record in the Eastern Conference. How good their record is, however, will ultimately be decided by whether the teams around them can push them throughout the course of the season.

Record: 60-22.

Next: Win In 6 Podcast #26: Win Total Over/Unders For NBA Season

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