Cleveland Cavaliers 2021-22 Season Preview

BY STEPHEN SCHEPPNER, SPORTS STAFFER

The Cavs are back, baby.

Cleveland Cavaliers 2020-2021 Record

22-50 (13th in the Eastern Conference)

2020-2021 Season Recap

The Cleveland Cavaliers had somewhat of a disappointing season, hanging around near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Finishing with a 22-50 record and receiving the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft, the Cavaliers matched people’s expectations. However, the 2020-2021 season saw the improvement of the young backcourt duo, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. The two showed major improvement across all fields of the game. Garland finished last year’s campaign with career highs in points (17.4), assists (6.1), rebounding (2.4) along with 45% from the floor and 39% from beyond the 3-point line. Sexton, once again led the team in scoring with 24.3 points per game as well as showing flashes of being the heart and soul of the franchise. The Cavaliers snuck in on the James Harden trade and acquired young center Jarrett Allen from the Brooklyn Nets. Allen finished top 15 in the NBA as a center in field goal percentage, blocks, and rebounding. The 2020-21 season also produced Allen’s first time averaging a double-double in his young career. 

Additions Going into 2021-22

Evan Mobley (3rd Overall Pick)

Lauri Markkanen (Sign and Trade)

Ricky Rubio (Trade)

Denzel Valentine (Signed)

Losses Going into 2021-22

Larry Nance Jr. (Sign and Trade)

Taurean Prince (Trade)

Matthew Dellavedova (Free Agency)

Damyean Dotson (Free Agency)

Possible Depth Chart Overview

PG        Darius Garland              Ricky Rubio       Kevin Pangos    Kyle Guy (2-way player)

SG        Collin Sexton                 Denzel Valentine           Dylan Windler

SF         Isaac Okoro                   Cedi Osman                  Lamar Stevens

PF        Lauri Markkanen           Kevin Love                    Dean Wade

C          Jarret Allen                   Evan Mobley                 Tacko Fall (2-way player)

Key Focus Points Going into This Season

Will “Sexland” Continue to Improve?

Darius Garland and Collin Sexton were the two bright spots in the Cavaliers backcourt. The young duo proved to have grown together from Garland’s rookie year and could possibly be the backcourt of the future in Cleveland. With both averaging career highs last year, the two are due for another strong year. Sexton, will look towards being more efficient and taking more of the defensive pressure off Darius as Sexton is the main scorer of the two. However, Garland will look to improve on his overall scoring and defensive ability. Averaging 17.4 ppg last year is exceptionally good, but as the number 2 behind Sexton, he will look to up that into the high 19s or 20 ppg. As well as the scoring, the on-ball defensive will need to improve for Garland to make another huge jump. Yes, he averaged a career high in steals, but those steals came from playing good help side, off ball defense.

Will Jarrett Allen produce to his contract?

Jarrett Allen was acquired at the trade deadline in the 2020-21 season. He immediately burst on the scene. His arrival forced the Cavaliers to part ways with big man Andre Drummond, and focus on Allen being the focal point at the Center position. Allen last season finished top 15 in the NBA as a center in field goal percentage, blocks, and rebounding. Last season also marked the first time Allen averaged a double-double in his young career. Allen is expected to take the majority of the minutes at the center position even with the arrivals of Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen. With him taking the majority of the minutes and having a full year with J.B. Bickerstaff at the helm, expect Allen to make another big leap in the points and rebounding statistics. As well as move into the top 10 center talks in the NBA. 

Can Lauri Markkanen Revive his career in CLE?

Lauri arrived in Cleveland after a sign-and-trade deal centered around Larry Nance Jr. Markkanen, while not having a bad career, has had a rollercoaster ride in Chicago. Markkanen, in his rookie year, showed flashes of his potential. However, it was not until his sophomore season when he showed his greatest potential. Averaging a career-high in minutes (32.3), rebounds (9.0), and points (18.7). Ever since that year, Markkanen has only improved in his field goal percentage. Coming into this crowed Cleveland Cavalier frontcourt does not favor Lauri. With the addition of 3rdoverall pick Evan Mobley, the extension of Jarret Allen, and names like Kevin Love and Dean Wade still on the roster, it will make it challenging for Markkanen to find a consistent role. Realistically, Markkanen will be a starter on a bad team or be a sixth man and come off the bench. Expect Markkanen to continue on his path and be a near 15 ppg scorer and an average stretch big. 

Here’s a taste of what folks can expect from Cleveland this season:

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