During these five raucous nights of celebration in Northeast Ohio, the last thing that anyone has thought about is whether the Cavaliers can successfully defend their first ever championship.
At a glance, it doesn’t seem likely. They most likely would’ve lost this series in five games if Draymond Green hadn’t been suspended, after all, and probably would’ve seriously considered a complete revamping of the roster in the off-season.
But Draymond was suspended, and against all odds, the Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the almost entitled Golden State Warriors.
And because of this, they’re set up very well to have another serious go at the title next season, and here’s why:
Of the impact players in the postseason rotation for the Cavs, only two will be free agents in the off-season; JR Smith and Richard Jefferson.
And JR just signed with Rich Paul, the representative for both LeBron James and Tristan Thompson, so don’t expect him to go anywhere.
Jefferson announced his retirement in the locker room following Cleveland’s Game 7 victory. But at the parade two days after the victory, he was almost crowd-pressured into playing one more season, so it’ll be no surprise where he ends up playing next year.
Kevin Love was another player that probably would’ve moved on had the Cavs lost, but coach Tyronn Lue confirmed that he’ll indeed be a Cavalier next season in an interview following Game 7’s triumph.
They Have the Most Valuable Player Ever
If the NBA awarded its Most Valuable Player award to the player that was actually the most valuable to his team instead of who had the best season, LeBron would have every one since 2009.
It’s a shame that it’s not awarded according to its title, but LeBron’s value is showcased by simply looking at the Cavaliers’ wins with and without him (via SBNation).
The league has never seen a player as valuable as The King, and although he’ll been 32 in December, he’ll still be the best player in the association for the foreseeable future.
Kyrie Had His Coming-Out Party
Kyrie’s always been a flashy fan-favorite with some of the best handles ever, but it wasn’t until this postseason that he established himself as a top-tier point guard.
Irving averaged over 25 points, almost 5 assists and nearly 2 steals while shooting an efficient 48% throughout the playoffs, and his utter domination of back-to-back league MVP Steph Curry in the Finals put everyone on notice as to who may be the dominant guard in the coming years.
His ability to score from anywhere on the floor, create his own shot, and playmake when necessary was put on display for the world to see, and it proved too much even for the 73-win Warriors.
Now with postseason experience and an epic Finals performance under his belt, expect Kyrie to be an upper echelon point guard for the next 5-7 years, and don’t be surprised to hear his name in MVP talks as LeBron ages.
There’s STILL No Significant Competition in the East
Bar a Kevin Durant shock move to Boston, there’s still no real competition for the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, meaning they’re almost guaranteed a spot in the 2017 Finals.
Their main threats come from out west, in the forms of the Thunder, the Spurs, and of course, the Warriors.
Oklahoma City was a historic collapse away from reaching the Finals for the second time in five years. But LeBron teams are 17-4 all-time against Durant teams, including the 2012 Finals, where James’ Heat won in 5 games. Consider the Cavs the favorite here.
San Antonio looked poised for another deep playoff run, but ran into a brick wall in the Thunder. Given how stacked the Western Conference is, it looks unlikely that the Spurs will navigate their way through.
And that leaves the Warriors, who crumbled under the pressure of possible back-to-back titles. They will obviously be looking for revenge, but based on the last 3 games of the series, LeBron and Kyrie look like they have their usual potent defense all figured out.
Cleveland has all the pieces to win another title, and the circumstances appear to be just right. And barring some serious injuries, it looks like they’ll provide a city so used to losing with a perennial winner for a change.