Number One Pick, to Possibly the Playoffs

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed center Andrew Bynum to a two year deal worth up to 24 million dollars. With only six million dollars guaranteed, the Cavs have definitely motivated Bynum to get healthy so he can play, and not to sit out like he did last year. If Bynum were to get healthy and be anything like he used to be with the Lakers, this could be huge for the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving has superstar potential and he may have gotten a possible star center if both are healthy.

One thing Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, and general manager, Chris Grant, have done is improved the Cavaliers’ roster. The Cavs shocked the world by drafting UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick. On draft night, many analysts thought the Cavs would take Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, or Ben McLemore with the first overall pick to address their needs, but they did not. Later in the first round at 20th overall, the Cavs then selected guard Sergey Karasev. Walking away from draft night, Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant had not addressed their need at center. But, with the signing of Andrew Bynum, the Cavs hope that they no longer have a need at center.

Besides draft night and the signing of Andrew Bynum, the Cleveland Cavaliers also brought in some key free agents that will help the club. Guard Jarrett Jack (who had success last year with the Golden State Warriors) and forward Earl Clark (who started the majority of games for the Los Angeles Lakers last season) will certainly contribute off of the bench. By drafting Anthony Bennett along with Sergey Karasev, and signing Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark, this puts a lot of importance on the Andrew Bynum acquisition.

Andrew Bynum said in his Cavalier introductory press conference that the Cavs would be a playoff team. Quite frankly, he may be right. When looking at this young roster along with the veteran presence of guys like Anderson Varejao, Jarrett Jack, and Andrew Bynum, this Cavs team definitely has a fine future, but could make the playoffs next season. The Cavs have a possible 12-man rotation in line that could do some damage to teams looking to make a run.

With a projected starting lineup of Kyrie Irving at the point, Dion Waiters at shooting guard, rookie Anthony Bennett at small forward, Anderson Varejao at power forward, and Andrew Bynum at center, along with Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee, CJ Miles, Sergey Karasev, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Zeller coming off the bench, this Cavaliers roster would be the deepest in the league. One of the keys to winning in the NBA is having a solid bench, and the Cavs will certainly have that come next season. This is where the Bynum signing comes into play. If healthy, the Cavs should definitely contend for a six to eight seed in the Eastern Conference. However, if Bynum’s knees do not come around and he is once again injured for the majority of the season, the Cavs will have a difficult time contending for the playoffs.

Anderson Varejao would likely start at center if Bynum were not to play, and Tristan Thompson, Earl Clark, or Tyler Zeller would get the start at power forward. If that were the case, it would not harm the Cavs too much, but a Bynum/Varejao combination leading the front court would give the Cavaliers the best chance to win. Even with the current set up that the Cavs have, they still have tough competition to make the playoffs. The first five seeds in the Eastern Conference to me are a lock in Miami, Brooklyn, New York, Indiana, and Chicago. However, seeds six through eight are toss-ups between Atlanta, Toronto, Detroit, Washington, Charlotte, and Cleveland.

Nick Gilbert, the son of Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert, will most likely be right when he predicted that the Cavs would not be back in the draft lottery next season. I see them snagging a playoff position in the six through eight seed spot but losing in the first round of the playoffs. Although they may not contend this year, I see a bright future for the Cleveland Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving as the face of the franchise.

-Addison Hunsicker

Image Source: (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/thumb/msid-21202222,width-300,resizemode-4/Andrew-Bynum.jpg)

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