The season finally ended for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night as they dropped their season-finale to the Nets 123-109 at Barclays Center.
With the loss, Cleveland finished the season 22-50 and ended the season losing 16 of their final 18 games, including an 11-game losing streak.
The Cavs started with optimism as they began the season 3-0 and was 9-9 after 18 games. However, the Cavaliers would lose 12 of their next 13, including 10 straight.
Along the way, Cleveland was decimated by injuries, including Kevin Love(missed 47 games), Larry Nance Jr. (missed 37 games), Dylan Windler(missed 41 games), and Matthew Dellavedova(missed 59 games).
Also, they had their share of drama. Kevin Porter Jr. had an altercation with GM Koby Altman, which led to the team trading him to Houston back in January.
Andre Drummond and the team agreed to separate in February, and after not being able to trade Drummond, the two sides agreed to a buyout in March.
However, there were many bright spots. Collin Sexton, 22, had career-highs in points(24.3) and assists(4.4) per game. He demonstrated the ability to put the ball in the basket at a fairly high level.
Also, Darius Garland, 21, played well this season and had an excellent command of the offense. When Garland did not play, Cleveland’s offense was not the same. The second-year guard also had career-highs in points(17.4) and assists(6.1). Garland was one of only four players in the NBA this season with 17.0-plus PPG, 6.0-plus APG, .390-plus 3FG%, and 84-plus free throw percentage (Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and Kyle Lowry).
Rookie Isaac Okoro, 20, finished the season strong for Cleveland and had a career-high 32 points against Phoenix earlier this month. Okoro was a very confident player near the end of the season, and hopefully, he can take that next step for Cleveland in his second season.
Jarrett Allen, 22, who came to Cleveland in a trade with the Nets in January, averaged a double-double(12.8 ppg & 10.0 RPG) for the first time in his career. Allen will be a restricted free agent in the offseason, so Cleveland can match any deal that comes his way. Expect Allen back with the wine and gold next season and beyond.
The future is not bleak in Cleveland. Their head coach J.B. Bickerstaff appears to be the right voice for this team, but it should be interesting to see what happens in the front office. There have been reports that Cleveland could look to add to the front office that is led by GM Koby Altman. However, we’ll have to see how that situation plays out.
Cleveland will have a lottery pick in this year’s draft, so that should help. But, they have to find a way to get a franchise-caliber player, which this team lacks. Cleveland is not a prime free-agent destination. Therefore, they must draft well.
The young core of Sexton, Garland, Allen, and Okoro is nice, but they need more. Also, they have to figure out what to do with the 32-year-old Love, who has two years and $60 million left on his contract. It will be challenging to move that contract, so the team may have to buy out Love before the start of next season.
The Cavaliers have some hope, but they still have a lot of work to do if they want to get into the playoffs and make some noise in the Eastern Conference.