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2008-09 NBA Draft Kit: Cleveland Cavaliers Preview

October 21, 2008 | By Jordan Frank | comment on this post

The 2008-09 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit is getting down to the nitty gritty, and today Jordan puts the Cavs under the microscope.

The Cavs ended last year on a sour note after losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. While everyone knows that LeBron James is one of the best players in the league (if not the best), the Cavs needed to solidify their backcourt in order to make a serious push to a title. Cleveland started by trading for Delonte West at the deadline last season, but it really made a splash this offseason by trading Joe Smith and Damon Jones to Milwaukee as part of a three-team, six-player deal that brought point guard Mo Williams to Cleveland. The Cavaliers are hopeful that Williams, who averaged 17.2 PPG and 6.3 APG last season, will not only be the best playmaker that they have had at the point guard spot since Andre Miller, but that he will also be a second scoring option behind James who can create his own shot.

In addition, the Cavs were able to lock up restricted free agents West and Daniel Gibson before the start of the preseason. With the addition of Williams and the re-signing of West and Gibson, expectations are sky high for this team heading into the 2008-09 season.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG: Mo Williams
SG: Sasha Pavlovic
SF: LeBron James
PF: Ben Wallace
C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Key Bench Players: Gibson, West, Wally Szczerbiak, Anderson Varejao, Lorenzen Wright.

Position Battles

The Cavs have a major battle at the shooting guard spot. With West missing two weeks of training camp due to a “mood disorder,” Pavlovic had a prime opportunity to snatch the job. However, West is back and Pavlovic has been inconsistent – on Saturday night he hit just 1-of-8 shots for six points while committing five fouls. Wally World also has a shot at the starting SG spot.

Stud: Wow, real tough choice here, but I guess I’ll have to go with Bron-Bron. James is coming off a ridiculous season in which he won the scoring title by averaging 30 points per game and added 7.9 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.8 steals and 1.5 three-pointers for good measure. James is the top player in fantasy leagues — especially those that don’t track turnovers — and is only 23 years old. It is scary to think that he may not even have hit his prime yet.

Dud: In 22 games with the Cavs last season, Wallace averaged 4.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. Crippled by injuries all season, Big Ben averaged fewer than 10 boards per game for the first time in seven years. He definitely seems to be on the decline and I would expect Varejao to steal a ton of time from him and eventually unseat him as the starting power forward.

Sleeper: I don’t see a true sleeper on the roster of the Cavs, but I would target Varejao in late rounds. Last year, he averaged a career-high 8.3 rebounds per game in 48 appearances. He also saw more PT last season, averaging 27.4 minutes, and even cracked the starting lineup 13 times after the trade of Drew Gooden to the Bulls. If Varejao can unseat Wallace as a starter, I like him as a solid double-double guy.

Rookies to Watch: The Cavs drafted J.J. Hickson, a freshman power forward from N.C. State and traded for the rights to Kansas senior Darnell Jackson. Jackson is out at least a month with a fractured wrist. At this moment, it isn’t certain if Hickson will have a spot in the rotation with the addition of Wright and with Wallace and Varejao also ahead of him.

Fantasy Stories to Watch

Can Williams be the productive second scorer the Cavs have been searching for? Can LeBron be even more dominant this season? Who will step up in the Cavs frontcourt? These are all questions we’ll be tracking early this season.

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