What the Cavs hope is a nine-month journey to a title begins this week with the start of training camp. Here’s a guide to camp of who and what to watch.
They have star power. They have depth. They have a definite goal.
Now it’s up to the Cavs to put it all together to see if they finally can win an NBA title.
The Cavs begin that process Tuesday, when training camp opens at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Almost a month later — Oct. 27 against Boston — the Cavs open their 40th season.
It figures to be a season unlike any other with two of sports’ biggest superstars, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, leading the Cavs a season after a franchise-record 66 wins ended in playoff frustration.
Here’s a quick guide of what to watch during the next month:
- Most of the attention in camp will be focused on how O’Neal fits in with James. Both future Hall of Famers have said they’ll have no problem meshing their games. But saying it and doing it are two different things. The guess is that the two should not have a big problem, but there could be some hiccups along the way.
- Will Head Coach Mike Brown stick with his smallish starting backcourt of Mo Williams and Delonte West? It produced 66 wins last season and career year for each, but it also got exploited by the bigger Magic in the conference finals.
When 6-foot-6 Anthony Parker signed, the immediate speculation was he bolstered the bench by being able to come off it as a strong shooter and good defender.
Brown could opt to move Parker into the starting five, especially if West’s arrest last week ends up causing his absence from the team at some point.
- O’Neal coming on board means Zydrunas Ilgauskas must adjust to life coming off the bench. What will be interesting to see is what Brown and his staff come up with in terms of using Shaq and Z on the floor at the same time, and how often they do it.
The Mo Show
Williams proved last regular season he could make the jump from a good player on a bad team to real good player on a championship contender. Then the playoffs started, and Williams looked like a guy with limited postseason experience.
His dismal shooting in the playoffs and inability to make a difference for the Cavs in the conference finals spoiled an otherwise memorable season.
Now, he’s got to bounce back this season and be ready to deliver when the playoffs begin in April.
Who will surprise?
While the Cavs know they have a strong core of front-line players to lead them, it won’t hurt their championship cause to have some other guys step forward and contribute.
Two Cavs to keep an eye on are guard Daniel Gibson and second-year forward J.J. Hickson.
Gibson enters his fourth season looking to regain the form that made him a valuable bench player his first two seasons. He never got in a groove as a shooter last season and even fell out of the rotation for a time. With Williams, West and Parker ahead of him in the backcourt, Gibson will have to earn his minutes.
Hickson’s up-and-down rookie season was ruined by a back injury that shut him down early, then limited him during the summer. The Cavs are confident the 21-year-old’s back will be fine. Now, it’s up to him to make the mental jump from a first-round pick with great athleticism to a guy the Cavs can count on in the rotation.
With just three healthy veteran interior players ahead of him, Hickson will be given a chance to prove he’s matured and ready to tap his potential.
The Sporting News released it’s all-decade teams for each of the major sports. Forty percent of its NBA All-2000s team can be found in Cleveland — James and O’Neal. They are joined by guards Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant and forward Tim Duncan. Bryant beat out Duncan for NBA athlete of the decade.
The all-decade second team features Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade as the guards, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett as the forwards and center Yao Ming.
Other NBA decade award winners from The Sporting News are San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (coach), Detroit’s Joe Dumars (executive) and Spurs (team). Boston’s 97-91 win over the Lakers in Game 4 of the 2008 final was the game of the decade.
Cavs 2009-10 roster
No. Name Pos Ht Wt Birth From Exp
2 Mo Williams G 6-1 190 12/19/1982 Alabama 6
13 Delonte West G 6-3 180 7/26/1983 St. Joseph’s 5
23 LeBron James F 6-8 250 12/30/1984 St. Vincent-St. Mary HS 6
17 Anderson Varejao C-F 6-11 260 9/28/1982 Brazil 5
33 Shaquille O’Neal C 7-1 325 3/6/1972 Louisiana St. 17
00 Darnell Jackson F 6-9 253 11/7/1985 Kansas 1
1 Daniel Gibson G 6-2 200 2/27/1986 Texas 3
11 Zydrunas Ilgauskas C 7-3 260 6/5/1975 Lithuania 11
14 Danny Green G 6-6 210 6/22/1987 North Carolina R
15 Jamario Moon F 6-8 200 6/13/1980 Meridian CC (Miss.) 2
18 Anthony Parker G-F 6-6 215 6/19/1975 Bradley 6
21 J.J. Hickson F 6-9 242 9/4/1988 North Carolina St. 1
31 Jawad Williams F 6-9 218 2/19/1983 North Carolina 1
44 Leon Powe F 6-8 240 1/22/1984 California 3
Training camp invitees
3 Rob Kurz F 6-9 232 3/5/85 Notre Dame 1
5 Coby Karl G 6-5 215 3/6/1983 Boise St. 1
12 Andre Barrett 5-10 172 2/21/1982 Seton Hall 4
20 Darryl Watkins C 6-11 258 11/8/1984 Syracuse 1
24 Russell Robinson G 6-1 190 1/24/1986 Kansas R
50 Luke Nevill C 7-2 265 2/19/1986 Utah R
Date Opponent, time
Tue., Oct. 6 Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 10 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Oct. 12 Olympiacos (Greece), 7 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 14 Washington, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 16 at San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 17 at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
Tue., Oct. 20 vs. Dallas in Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 21 vs. Boston in Columbus, 7 p.m.
Dates to remember
Tuesday Practices begin
Saturday Wine & Gold Scrimmage, Akron’s Rhodes Arena, noon
Oct. 27 Season opens, vs. Boston, Quicken Loans Arena, 7:30