This article is part of our NBA Team Previews series.
2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers Team Preview
After three straight losing campaigns, the Cavs finished the 2021-22 regular season three wins over .500 and 8th in the East. A very promising start fell apart as various starters went down with injuries. This summer, the Cleveland front office decided to swap draft picks and depth for star power, acquiring Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz. Things are looking up for the Cavaliers.
2021-22 Record: 44-38; Lost in the Play-In Tournament
2022-23 NBA Win Total Odds: 47.5 wins (DraftKings)
2022-23 NBA Title Odds: +3,000 (DraftKings)
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Check out our 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Rankings, which includes fantasy basketball projections for every player.
Cleveland Cavaliers Fantasy Basketball Preview - Top Players
After discussions between Utah and New York failed to gain necessary traction, Cleveland emerged as a suitor for the three-time All-Star guard. Mitchell joins a talented young roster with All-Star point guard Darius Garland, All-Star center Jarrett Allen and an extremely promising forward in Evan Mobley. It may take some time for Garland and Mitchell to figure out the give-and-take in usage, but neither player should take a massive hit. Mitchell is coming off his age 25 season with averages of 25.6 points on 45/36/85 shooting, 5.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 33.8 minutes. He ranked 18th in fantasy last season on a per-game basis, which figures to take a hit playing next to Garland, but Mitchell has never ranked worse than 44th. As a result, managers should still feel comfortable selecting Mitchell in the third round.
Last season was a breakout campaign for Garland, who made his first All-Star team. He set career bests across the board, averaging 21.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.6 three-pointers per game. What is just as impressive is that he shot 46.2 percent from the field and 89.2 percent from the free-throw line, making him a force in fantasy when combined with his averages. That said, he was aided by injuries to Collin Sexton and, to a lesser extent, Ricky Rubio that forced Garland into an even larger role out of the backcourt. Sexton is out of the picture this season, but he's been replaced by Donovan Mitchell, who the Cavs traded for while sending out Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji and picks. However, Garland will remain the driving force of the offense and has clear room to grow, given that he's just 22 years old. After ranking 23rd in eight-category per-game fantasy production last year, managers will likely still need to pay into the late second round to get him this year, even with Mitchell entering the fold.
The No. 3 overall pick last season, Mobley put together an excellent rookie campaign. He was voted to First Team All-Rookie and came in second place in one of the closest Rookie of the Year award races in recent memory -- Scottie Barnes claimed the award. Mobley got out of the gates strong and was consistent month over month. Overall, he saw 33.8 minutes per game and averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks and 0.8 steals. That was good for rank 75 in per-game fantasy production. Mobley's shooting efficiency (51/66/25) was a mixed bag, but clearing the 50 percent mark as a rookie is encouraging. He took just 1.3 three-point attempts per game, but improving in that area will be important while playing alongside a traditional center like Jarrett Allen. It will be more important for fantasy managers if Mobley can improve his efficiency from the charity stripe. He shot 69.4 percent on freebies during his lone season at USC compared to 66.3 percent as a rookie, so there's room for improvement, but it seems unlikely he'll be great in that area. The strongest part of Mobley's game is his defense. He's a great rim protector but also has the coordination and footspeed to hang on the perimeter against guards and wings. He also showed some passing ability, but he'll only handle the ball so much with Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell running the show. This season, fantasy managers have a right to be optimistic and select Mobley much earlier than he ranked last season. It's important to keep in mind that his rebounding and shot-blocking upside -- while great in the long term -- is a bit capped for next season given the presence of Allen on the inside, as he's a more traditional rebounding and shot-blocking big himself. But Mobley still has an opportunity to improve in that area, and with some offensive strides, he could quickly turn into one of the better two-way bigs in the game.
Allen looks like one of the best young centers in the league and an important building block for the Cavaliers. He averaged a career-high 32 minutes per game last season, putting up averages of 16.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He also shot an impressive 67.7 percent from the field, while not hurting fantasy managers with his 70.8 percent mark from the free-throw line. Although many teams in the league have shifted towards deploying smaller lineups, the Cavaliers are locked into going big with Allen starting alongside Evan Mobley. They clearly had success with that formula, making the playoffs last season despite a rash of injuries. Allen was no exception, playing just 56 games of his own. He doesn't have a history of injuries, though, playing at least 70 games in each of his first three seasons in the league. Allen might not be in the top-tier of fantasy centers, but he comes with an extremely high floor, making him someone worthy of an early-round selection.
Cleveland Cavaliers Depth Chart for 2022-23
- PG: Darius Garland, Raul Neto
- SG: Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert
- SF: Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman
- PF: Evan Mobley, Kevin Love
- C: Jarrett Allen, Robin Lopez
Cleveland Cavaliers Predictions for 2022-23
The injury bug hit the Cavaliers with a vengeance last season. Remember, come the end of January, they were 31-20. This team is too young and athletic for those freak injuries to occur again. And now, with Mitchell, they have a star who can create his own shot. The Cavs have size, speed and youth on their side. Mobley and Allen provide the type of rim protection that gives opponents nightmares. Garland, who is only 22 years old, is a rising star, as demonstrated by his new rookie max contract extension. The future is bright in Cleveland.
- 4th in the East
- Lose in first round of the playoffs
The Cavaliers will make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Teams like Boston, Milwaukee and Miami are due for the type of injuries Cleveland suffered last year. The Cavs young nucleus, led by Mitchell, will peak at the right time and wreak havoc in the playoffs.
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