With the 2018-19 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we're dedicating one day to each team in the league.
After looking at the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, we're shifting our Central Division focus to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2017-18 season record
50-32 (No. 4 in Eastern Conference)
Projected 2018-19 season record
30.5 wins (No. 12 in Eastern Conference)
Channing Frye (free agency)
Collin Sexton (No. 8 overall pick in 2018 NBA Draft)
Jeff Green (free agency)
LeBron James (free agency)
3 key storylines
Kevin Love as the No. 1 option
After being the man in Minnesota for six years, Love spent the majority of the past four seasons with the Cavs as the team's second or third option behind either LeBron James, Kyrie Irving or both.
As life after LeBron begins for the Cavs, Love will be the guy for Cleveland this upcoming season.
In his final season with the Timberwolves, the five-time All-Star averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. While the numbers might not be as gaudy, expect Love to adopt a similar approach to the game in the 2018-19 season - his commitment to the team in the form of a four-year contract extension shows that he believes this team can be in playoff contention come April.
If Collin Sexton becomes an All-Star the Cavs rebuilding process will be accelerated. The last time LeBron left, Cleveland ended up with Kyrie Irving. Irving's development put the groundwork in place for a LeBron return eventually leading to a championship.
If LeBron decides to come back again it likely won't have anything to do with Sexton, and the chances of James leading Cleveland to another championship four years from now is very slim - although we should know to never ever count LeBron out - but if Sexton maximizes his potential Cleveland might not dwell on the fact that the King left them twice.
Sexton has the ability to guard at a high level, something the Cavs haven't had at the point guard position for decades. If he can become a solid number two scoring option behind Kevin Love, Cleveland might be a perennial playoff team - which might just be good enough to attract another free agent in the coming years.
Contract year Rodney Hood
Rodney Hood has shown the ability to be a prolific scorer, averaging 16.8 points in 39 games with Utah before being traded to Cleveland last season. Hood showed flashes in Cleveland, too, scoring in double figures in 13 of the 21 games he appeared in for the Cavs.
Hood did not receive the contract offer he sought this offseason, however, and in turn, signed a one-year $3.4 million qualifying offer to remain with the Cavs. The 2018-19 season will be a 'prove-it' deal for the swingman, who told Cleveland.com, "I believe strongly in myself that after this year I'll be able to make Cleveland my home and we'll get a better deal next summer."
5 games to watch
Oct. 19 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
After opening the season in Toronto, the Cavs travel to the Target Center to face the up-and-coming Timberwolves. As Love adjusts to his new role, what better time for him to get comfortable in his new role than when he visits the city where he had his best years?
Oct. 21 vs. Atlanta Hawks
The top two point guards from the 2018 draft class take center stage when Trae Young and the Hawks visit Sexton and the Cavs for the team's home opener. The two were compared throughout the 2017-18 college season and even more throughout the draft process, so plenty of eyes will be on the first of many battles between the two rookies.
Nov. 7 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Sexton has said that Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is one of his favourites in the league and one he relates to because of the energy he plays with on a nightly basis. The two fierce competitors should square off for the first time when OKC visits Quicken Loans Arena early in the season.
Should Westbrook still be out after his offseason knee procedure, the two teams meet again three weeks later in Oklahoma.
Nov 21. vs. Los Angeles Lakers
After two stints in Cleveland that amounted to 10 seasons, five NBA Finals appearances, two MVPs and one NBA title, Ohio's native son LeBron James returns to "The Q" as a member of the opposing team for the first time in over four years. Emotions will be high, but the city of Cleveland will not hesitate to show its appreciation for all that James has done throughout the course of his career.
Nov. 30 vs. Boston Celtics
Sexton also made headlines this offseason when he opted to wear No. 2 with the Cavs, the number last worn by All-Star guard Kyrie Irving. Sexton has been quoted saying that he isn't concerned with filling anyone's shoes, but the matchup between Cleveland's point guards of the past and future will be a good one.