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No Limit to Cleveland Cavaliers’ Potential
Posted By Jabari Davis On July 20, 2013 @ 5:00 am In NBA Summer League | No Comments
HOOPSWORLD catches up with Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Jarrett Jack at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.Watch More Video Here
When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers will qualify for the playoffs in the 2013-14 season, newly acquired reserve point guard Jarrett Jack doesn’t lack confidence in his response.
“I’m not one to put a cap on much,” Jack told HOOPSWORLD. “Why would I want to just say, ‘We’re just going to make the playoffs’? I don’t want to limit what we can do, the possibilities are endless, and we’re just going to embrace it.”
For an organization with just a .386 winning percentage over the past three seasons, these might sound like bold words to the naked ear, but context and timing are what Jack’s self-assured tone are all about. Compare these comments to those made by owner Dan Gilbert a few years ago, and Jack’s confident statement really doesn’t seem so extreme.
“I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win a championship before the self-titled ‘King’ wins one,” Gilbert said. “You can take that to the bank.”
Much has taken place over the past three years since Gilbert issued that statement to fans on July 8, 2010. Obviously, we’ve witnessed three-straight runs to the Finals by James’ Miami HEAT, with consecutive victories in the most recent two. On the flipside, the Cavaliers, having gone just 64-166 in the three seasons since that bold proclamation have won the NBA Draft lottery twice in that same period. Kyrie Irving (2011) and Anthony Bennett (2013) earned the distinctions of first overall pick, but are also joined by six additional fellow first-round picks on the roster. Andrew Bynum’s signing will ultimately give them nine former-first round picks, and for the first time since James’ exodus, Cavs fans have a reason to join in Jack’s excitement over this team’s potential.
Reserve guard C.J. Miles echoed this sentiment when asked for his thoughts on the roster.
“Exciting, man,” Miles said. “We were excited last year, we had some injuries and things like that, but this year we’re really excited. Added some more veterans, added some guys that have some winning experience to really help us bring along the young guys that we have and then, with Kyrie coming, and Dion, and just everybody putting it together, we feel like we got a real good chance of being able to make a big leap next year.”
A projected starting lineup of Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson and a motivated Bynum is very intriguing, especially when you add Jack, Miles, Anderson Varejao and Earl Clark into the mix off the bench. Former Coach of the Year Mike Brown returns to the helm after a three-year absence, but will be armed with a nice balance of youth and skill this time around.
Beyond the established talent, Brown also has the services of several talented rookies at his disposal. Bennett, a bit of a surprise with the first pick, is a dynamic player with the power to finish with authority at the rim, and a soft touch on his mid-range game. Sergey Karasev is a 19-year-old who is not participating in summer league since he’s busy leading his Russian team to the Finals of the World University Games in Kazan, Russia. Second-year players Tyler Zeller and Waiters have each shown flashes during the first four games of summer league, as well.
The reunion with Bynum is actually the more intriguing dynamic of the offseason. Even though Bynum experienced by far his best statistical season under the tutelage of Brown in 2011-12 as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, the two were reportedly at odds throughout the season. Bynum seemed to struggle with the accountability of being a “main guy” beneath the bright lights of Los Angeles, and Brown seemed to find difficulty maintaining order in a locker room chock full of strong personalities and longtime NBA veterans.
That shouldn’t be such an issue with this group, as it will likely be in the running for one of the younger teams in the league for several years to come. Even on a team with promising young players like Irving, Waiters and Bynum, the veteran presence of guys like Jack and Miles could prove to be of immeasurable importance throughout the year.
“The biggest thing I think is just the camaraderie with the guys,” Miles said. “Really building that family atmosphere, really getting guys to cover each other and play hard for each other, really having guys having each others’ back and growing with each other. Everybody plays harder for guys they like.”
Miles is exactly right, and it will require exactly this type of reassuring influence throughout the year if these Cavs want to make a run at a playoff spot in 2013-14.
“Just togetherness, selfless play and just try to be the hardest working team every time we step in between the lines,” Jack said.
Developing this type of bond and simply being on the same page at such an early stage is key. Chemistry and guidance have proven to be almost as significant as skill during the long stretches of an NBA season. These Cavaliers seem to be not only on the right path, but on their way to building a successful franchise from the ground level.
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