Assessing the title contenders after the Kevin Love trade

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On August 7th, sports journalists all over the internet reported the Cleveland Cavaliers had agreed to terms with the Minnesota Timberwolves to send star forward Kevin Love to Cleveland for 2014 first overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 first overall draft pick Anthony Bennett and a 2015, lottery protected, first round draft pick.

The trade will shift the landscape in the entire NBA but especially in the Eastern Conference.

Prior to this trade the Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster was loaded with young talent. That talent, if developed properly, would keep the Cavaliers in the playoffs and title contention for the next decade. This year, however, that talent would do well to reach the finals of their conference.

Trade rationale

With this year in mind, the Cavaliers made the blockbuster trade to acquire Kevin Love. With Love on the roster, even without two former first overall draft picks, the Cavs have leapt into title contention.

The main impediment to title contention for the Cavs, prior to and after the trade, is learning to play as a team with a roster filled with new players. Prior to the trade, the Cavs were in position to field a team filled with inexperience, not only in playing in the NBA but in playing with one another too. After the trade, the Cavs are in position for two stars, who have established a rapport with one another, LeBron James and Kevin Love, to establish a team identity and brotherhood.

Learn to play together

I still don’t expect the Cavaliers to come out of the gate meshed and ready to play championship caliber basketball. With Love, Mike Miller, James Jones and Anderson Varejao reuniting with LeBron James, who is bound to be the centerpiece of the Cavs team, there will be some continuity. Still though, LeBron has never played with the Cavs’ third star, Kyrie Irving and the handful of players added since James’ departure in 2010.

In all likelihood, the Cavs will start hitting their stride after the all-star break and be ready for title contention by the time the playoffs come around. This means the Cavs won’t have the best record in the East by playoff time, but will be the most feared and championship capable team in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana Pacers
Cleveland Cavaliers
Washington Wizards
Chicago Bulls
Miami Heat
LeBron James

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