Despite early struggles, Cavs remain favorites

The Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled out of the gate in the young season, continuing a trend of recent struggles to the start of the regular season. While there is little reason to be concerned for Cavaliers fans—the Cavaliers have been to three consecutive NBA Finals—one is forced to wonder whether the Cavaliers are just not as good as they were in years’ past and if the team has a realistic shot at the title.

As of press time, the Cavaliers currently sport a record of 3-5, good for 10th in the Eastern Conference. It surprises no one that the team is struggling to figure out its identity. It has been just a few weeks into the season and the Cavaliers have many new additions to their lineup. Derrick Rose just recently got back in the lineup after dealing with an ankle sprain. Until Isaiah Thomas comes back, Rose needs to be an important weapon for the team. While not a great driver, he is a fantastic ball handler and a weapon driving to the rim.

One area that is certainly troubling for the Cavaliers is their defensive. Despite Rose, JR Smith has also been a notoriously bad defender and Kevin Love has also had his struggles. These issues become even more apparent when you see that the Cavaliers are currently ranked number 27 in the league in defensive efficiency. They have given up over 100 points in each of their last five games to the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks. For a team with championship expectations, that is just unacceptable.

With the best player in the NBA on your team, things are never going to be too bad. LeBron James is having a stellar start to the season, averaging 24 points, seven rebounds and nearly nine assists per game. These are elite numbers for the superstar, and he alone will continue to keep this team alive despite any other struggles that arise.

Thomas, the prized guard they received in the trade for Kyrie Irving last year, is still recovering from injury and has not joined the team. Once he does return, the Cavaliers will have plenty of time to develop a more permanent rotation and get back on track in the East.

Despite the early struggles, the Cavaliers are still the favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference. Their major challenger, at least in the preseason, is the Celtics, who have been dealing with injury situations of their own.

While there are certainly improvements in the Eastern Conference as a whole, the Cavaliers are still the obvious pick to win the conference.