Updated 12:13 AM EST, Thu, Jan 21, 2021

Cleveland Cavaliers Roster, Season 2014-2015 Predictions & News Update: Does the Starting Lineup Carry Enough Depth?

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There was no extravagant welcome party this time around. No blaring music or EDM-esqe light show smothering an arena-sized audience. No signs that read "Yes. We. Did." as so many Heat fans drew up when LeBron James initially landed in South Beach four years ago.

"The King's" return to Cleveland didn't carry the same hyperbole, and that's probably a good thing. His smug persona is gone and he isn't claiming the Cavaliers will win "Not one, not two, not three..." championships.

Instead, James greeted roughly 30,000 fans last month and assuredly said winning a title for his hometown "would be the greatest achievement of my life on the court." It's a bold statement for a player whose won two of the last four NBA Finals. Then again, James is the only one who can make the claim with validity.

Few on Cleveland's roster are happier than Kyrie Irving. Irving, James, and venerable All-Star Kevin Love make up a revamped Big Three that lacks experience over James' trio in Miami but carries an exuberance Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh haven't shown the last two seasons.

Irving was the bright spot in an otherwise horrid shooting team. The Cavs ranked 22nd in points per game, 23rd in point differential, and 27th in field goal percentage last year. Were it not for Irving's 20.8 points and 6.1 assist per game average Cleveland wouldn't have even sniffed the playoffs.

The point guard's never been a leader. A lot of that may be because proven leaders don't often find their way into Cleveland, especially with James leaving a season before Irving arrived. Fortunately for Irving won't shoulder the pressure alone anymore.

General manager David Griffin brought in a slew of veterans to mitigate for holes in the forward positions and on the bench.

Griffin signed guards Mike Miller and James Jones a day after officially signing Irving to a five-year contract extension. Miller's limped through stints in Miami and Memphis, and recently mulled fusion surgery to repair bulging discs in his back. Hardly the image of consistency Cleveland signed him to be.

Still, Miller shot 41.2 percent from three-point land and averaged 5.4 points per while with the Heat. He fills Cleveland's void of clutch shooter off the bench. That's all dependent on if-and that's a big if- Miller contributes anywhere near his 29 minute per game career average. The only way Miller hits the pine for extended periods is if Ray Allen decides that retirement isn't for him just yet.

Shawn Marion brings above average defense to a roster abundant with power forwards. Six to be exact.

Besides Love and Marion, the Cavs carry Tristan Thompson, Erik Murphy, Dwight Powell, and Malcolm Thomas. The latter three may not make it to opening night. Thompson was a major contributor last year, leading the team in rebounds while starting every game. He'll suffer a setback in terms of playing time, but has a great opportunity to pick the veterans' brains.

Marion's productive has declined but he remains a double-digit scorer in every one of his 15 seasons. He hit 35.8 percent of his three-point attempts with Dallas last year and reinforced his status as a formidable defender.

Griffin and first-year coach David Blatt can mix-and-match all they want with bench roles and with whoever starts at shooting guard (Dion Walters or they pick up between now and November). Cleveland's success hinges on the Big Three's success.

As individuals scorers we knew what to expect: Love and James would average between 25-30 points a night while Irving hovered near 20. As a team, it may be the same story.

Dwyane Wade's PPG dropped by a miniscule one when James arrived. Rebounds rose by 1.6 per. Fans expecting a drop-off from Love or Irving shouldn't fret. James makes everyone around him better and his new teammates won't be an exception.

In his letter to the city of Cleveland, James said "We're not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I'm realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010." All of that is true. The Cavs aren't ready right now and it will be a long process, much longer than 2010.

What Cleveland is ready for is a playoff run. They'll blow by the Milwaukee's and New York's and struggle with the Chicago's and Toronto's. The division crown is out of the question, but home-court advantage in the postseason surely isn't.

Few doubt the Cavs' talent. The only question is whether James and company can exceed sky-high expectations.  

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