Now that All-Star forward Kevin Love’s trade to Cleveland is official, the world finally knows exactly what the Cleveland Cavaliers roster will look like.
For a while, fans and media alike weren’t sure if LeBron James would pair up with Andrew Wiggins, a freakish rookie guard with tremendous upside, or Kevin Love, a highly-skilled, savvy and proven veteran power forward. Now we all know the King will play with two All-Stars, Love and Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, giving him a new “Big Three” that may be even better than his former partners in Miami, All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Most NBA followers already believe Cleveland is the favorite to win the Eastern Conference and send LeBron to his fifth straight Finals appearance, where he’ll probably once again face the World Champion San Antonio Spurs for the title. The only question that remains is whether his new cast of star players and a change of scenery will be enough to give LeBron his revenge over the Spurs and his third championship ring? Perry Green and Stephen Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this question.
Riley: I think it’s obvious that the Cleveland Cavaliers are not only the new favorites to win the East, but are also the favorites to win the NBA title next season. Look how close LeBron and the Miami Heat came to winning it all last season, and LeBron had to do almost everything by himself. Wade was struggling with injures, Chris Bosh was not great, only okay, and the rest of the veteran cast of Miami looked either too old or not good enough to pull their weight against the deep and talented Spurs. Well, now King James has two young All-Stars who are more than willing to take the load off his back and make it that much easier for him to add another championship to his illustrious career.
Green: It will be hard for me to argue that Cleveland won’t win the Eastern Conference. The East is so weak in comparison to the Western Conference and I don’t see many challengers for the Cavs, outside of Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. But let me make this clear: there’s no way this newly-built Cavs team can beat the Spurs or any of the top Western competitors in a seven-game series. You don’t just throw three All-Stars together with a new head coach and cast of role players and expect them to be better than elite teams who have been playing together for years. I don’t care how talented your star players are: team chemistry and continuity goes a long way in the playoffs, and that’s something Cleveland will lack all of next season.
Riley: It didn’t take long for LeBron to reach championship status when he joined Wade and Bosh in Miami, so I don’t see why it would take any longer now that he has linked up with Kyrie and K-Love. LeBron is already a champion, so he knows what it takes to become one. He will be there to lead and show his new teammates the way, just as Wade and Pat Riley did for him four years ago. This team is just too talented and too skilled to not win a championship, and I don’t see any team being able to stop them—that includes Western Conference contenders.
Green: If I remember correctly, LeBron didn’t win a championship in his first year with Miami. He got past the weak East, but was embarrassed by the Dallas Mavericks in a 4-2 series loss in the Finals. Why? It was simple: Miami didn’t have the team chemistry that Dallas possessed. The Heat weren’t sure who was supposed to take over games in the clutch—was it going to be Wade or LeBron? They didn’t know, and it hurt them against a motivated Dallas team that was much better playing together at that time. I see the same thing happening again this season with the Cavs. Who will run the offense? Who will take over when it’s time for someone to take over? Will it be King James, K-Love or Kyrie? Until we get that answer, don’t expect Cleveland to see a title anytime soon