NBA Futures: Can Even DeAndre Jordan Save the Crumbling Cavaliers?
Cavaliers Badly Need DeAndre Jordan
You may have to re-read this in disbelief but the Cavaliers are giving up 113.3 points in their last 15 games, good for dead-last in the league. They are 5-10 in that span and allowed 148 points from the Thunder, 133 from the Raptors, and 127 from the Wolves, all losses.
To say the Cavs need some much-needed help on defence is an understatement. But even with Jordan, they have plenty of work to do. Cleveland's struggles have become so bad they held an emergency player meeting in which the likes of Kevin Love drew the ire of his teammates for his absences in recent games. The porous defence and in-fighting are terrible signs for a team that is still considered by many as the best from the East.
LeBron James in the Midst of Worst Stretch as a Player
One might say, it isn't James's fault. After all, one player, no matter how great, can only do so much. But James has just been as much to blame as his teammates. James earned the dubious honour of having the worst defensive rating among players who played over 30 minutes.
James started the season hot and was one of the top candidates for Most Valuable Player (MVP) but his numbers have dwindled as of late. In his last 15 games, James is down to averaging 24.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists with 4.7 turnovers per game and a plus/money of -8.3. His Player Impact Estimate (PIE) is down to 18.8 and he is only shooting 27.4 per cent from deep.
At 33, James may be nearing the end of his peak. He has played over 1,200 games at 40 minutes per game. Even if he's physically close to perfection, the grueling mental grind of having to constantly carry your team is likely wearing on him especially on the defensive end. The loss Kyrie Irving and the subpar play of his team don't help matters.
Adding Jordan will shore up the Cavaliers desperate need for a center. Jordan is currently second in the NBA in rebounds with 14.9 and while his blocks are down to just one per game, he'll be a massive upgrade over what the Cavs have now.
The addition of Jordan will also help the Cavs slow down the pace the way James wants and will solve their rebounding issues (currently ranked 25th with 48.5 rebounding per cent). Most importantly, Jordan gives the Cavs a bonafied presence at the rim.
Even if Jordan doesn't swat that many shots, his presence alone will deter teams from relentlessly attacking the basket thus helping the Cavs defend the perimeter. Yet as of right now, there haven't been significant news regarding attempts at trading for Jordan. The 2017 NBA All-Star has also been linked to other teams like the Portland Trail Blazers. The Cavaliers can't afford to lose out on Jordan. No NBA team has won a championship with a 29th-ranked defence. None.
Cavaliers are Still Eastern Favourites
*All odds via Sports Interaction
In spite of their struggles, the Cavaliers remain the cream of the crop in the East. Right now, the Cavs are -125 favourites to win the Eastern Conference Finals. But they went up to +600 as NBA Finals winners, a distant second-place to the Golden State Warriors at -333.
Oddsmakers are confident the Cavs will make their fourth straight NBA Finals but are even more confident they won't beat their archnemeses. Behind the Cavs are the Boston Celtics at +240 to win the East and +850 to win the NBA Championship.
The Celtics are almost the opposite of the Cavs. They have the league's best defence with a 99.7 defensive rating and what's even more remarkable is they are missing their second-best player in Gordon Hayward. At those odds, it may be worth taking a shot on them to upset the Cavs.
In a distant third are the Toronto Raptors at +700 to make their first NBA Finals and at +2500 to win it all. The Raptors most recently blew out the Cavaliers 133-99 in their first meeting of the season. The new and improved Raptors lead the Eastern Conference with a net rating of +6.7 (third overall). While they haven't completely shed their labels as playoff underachievers, this might be the best Toronto team ever.
Betting On NBA Basketball in 2018
NBA fans head to online sportsbooks open to Canadians and read our reviews on these sites to find the books that cater to their style. It's best to try more than one book to take advantage of the different odds and props they offer.
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