Every offseason, a team should get the front office together, the players, and coaches as well, and pull out the whiteboard.
At the top of that whiteboard, in big, Expo-marker print, should be written the word “GOALS.”
The Cavaliers should certainly take part in this ritual.
Last June, the Cavs’ goals might have looked humble.
“Get to 30 wins”
“Figure out if Sexton and Garland are long-term pieces”
“Explore the Kevin Love market”
“Be ready to compete for a playoff spot by 2026”
One incredibly fun season later, and the Cavs should up the ante.
This is a team, with just one or two more moves, that is ready to compete now.
Think back to the first half of the season.
Cleveland hovered between second and fourth place in the East, higher than the Philadelphia Sixers, Boston Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks.
Injuries derailed the team down the stretch, but by and large, Cleveland was competing with the big dogs.
So what might be some realistic goals for the Cavs next season?
1. End the LeBron-less Playoff Drought
This is a biggie.
It’s been 24 years since the Cavs went to the playoffs without Cleveland’s star pupil leading the charge.
LeBron’s presence in Cleveland has been something of a Damocles’ Sword; the specter of him leaving always hung over the front office.
And when the sword dropped, it fell hard.
When LeBron left for the Heat, the Cavaliers could have been mistaken for the Lost Tribe of Israel, wandering around in the wilderness searching for something, anything.
Out of the league.
Decent enough, though somehow he managed to play for three different teams last season.
For years, Cleveland wallowed away until LeBron returned in 2014.
And since LeBron departed again in 2018 for the Lakers, it looked like it would be more of the same from Cleveland.
But flash forward four years and Koby Altman has managed to steer the ship towards a legitimate destination: postseason basketball.
As long as Cleveland paid its injury dues last season and the tax man doesn’t come back around in 2022-23, the team should easily nab its first playoff appearance without the King in over two decades.
2. Finish Top-Five in Defense
What do the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns all have in common?
The Cleveland Cavaliers are holding opponents to 102 points per game.
That's the best scoring defense in the entire NBA. pic.twitter.com/anqdc25SNx
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) February 10, 2022
They a) made it past the first round of the playoffs (and for the Dubs and C’s, even further than that), b) they were all clustered at the top of their respective conferences, and c) they all finished with the league’s top defenses in 2021-22 (per defensive rating).
The next team up on that list?
The Cleveland Cavaliers.
Spearheaded by Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, the Cavaliers had a terrifying defense last season.
So why can’t they do it again?
While the ideal goal might be to finish top three in team defense, a realistic one is to simply maintain the same level while adding back injured players to the rotation.
3. Send Three Players To The All-Star Game
Last season, Cleveland sent two players to the All-Star Game: Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen.
Could they send a third next year?
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the BEST young big 4 in the NBA and it isn’t debatable. pic.twitter.com/ZE8clCfX8v
— 𝗢𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝗖𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗙𝗮𝗻 (@CLE_Optimistic) June 14, 2022
If Allen and Garland continue playing at a high level (Garland I would go ahead and pencil in), then why not?
The key is Evan Mobley.
Every year, at least one sophomore player makes the leap to the mid-season game.
Last season, it was LaMelo Ball.
But if Mobley returns in the offseason with some improvements to his offensive game, he’ll have no problem leading the pack of sophomores.
Last season, Golden State sent three players.
Why can’t the Cavs?