The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be a top-five seed in the Eastern Conference next season.
Following their trade for Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs have one of the best young rosters in not only the East, but the entire league.
Their starting lineup features three All-Stars 25 years old or younger (Mitchell turns 26 in a week), and another 21-year-old who will be an All-Star sooner rather than later.
Darius Garland, 22, and Donovan Mitchell make up one of the best scoring backcourts in the league. Garland is coming off a year in which he set career-highs in points (21.7), assists (8.6), rebounds (3.3), steals (1.3), field goal percentage (46.2), and free throw percentage (89.2).
Mitchell averaged just under 26 points a game, assisted over five dimes a game, and shot 44.8 percent from the field and 85.3 percent from the stripe.
Good, young, scoring, and playmaking backcourt? Check.
In the frontcourt, they’re led by two near seven-footers, the 21-year-old Rookie of the Year runner-up in Evan Mobley, and the 24-year-old first-time All-Star in 2021 in Jarrett Allen.
Both were two of the best defensive big men in the league last season — Mobley was the sixth-best center with a defensive efficiency rating of 107.3 and Allen didn’t play enough games to qualify, but had an even better rating of 106.4.
On the other side of the floor, both guys shot over 50 percent from the field, while Allen was second in the league with a shooting percentage of 67.7.
Mobley can also stretch the floor a little. He’s not Steph Curry, but he did knock down 23 threes in his first season — so you at least have to guard him out there.
Good, young, scoring and defending frontcourt? Check.
Did I mention none of these guys were older than 25?
On the bench, the Cavs aren’t too shabby, either. They have an immediate scoring punch in Caris Levert, who’s averaged a career 14.6 points per game across his eight seasons.
They also have Ricky Rubio, who revitalized his career last year with the Cavs before tearing his ACL in December. The Cavs still awarded him with a three-year extension in July, and will be looking forward to his return sometime during the season.
And then there’s Kevin Love, who also somewhat revitalized his career last season in a full-time bench role, pouring in over 13 points and seven rebounds a game in limited minutes.
Altogether, the Cavs have put together one of the best, young rosters in the NBA, and have their guys locked up for the foreseeable future. Garland just signed a five-year extension that will keep him around until 2028. Mitchell is locked up until 2026. Mobley will enter restricted free agency in 2025 (but he’s not going anywhere). And Allen will be in Cleveland until at least 2026.
This team will be really good this season, and will only get better over the next few. Last year, the young Cavs were one of the biggest surprises in the league. As high as a three-seed in late February, they were looking like a serious contender.
They finished the regular season as an 8th-seed, and couldn’t get past the play-in tournament.
But they were way ahead of schedule, and will only be better in 2022.
This year, the Cavs aren’t going to surprise anyone.
They aren’t going to be in the play-in tournament. They aren’t going to be fighting for a playoff spot.
This time around, they’re going to be in. A top-six seed for sure, and maybe even hosting a first-round series as a top-four seed.
The Cavs may not enter the year as title favorites, but they’re definitely going to be in the mix.
And with their young roster locked up for the next couple of seasons, this team will be a perennial contender in the league for years to come.
We haven’t seen a good Cleveland team without LeBron James in nearly three decades. That’s about to change.