Who would've thought that the words "underdog" and "Cavaliers" can exist in one sentence?
Having the consensus best basketball player in the world should put a team in an advantageous position. Even without Kyrie Irving, who was finally traded to the Boston Celtics, Cleveland is still a dangerous group, especially with how the Eastern Conference have drastically weakened this offseason. But what if we tell you that its most talented players actually make the Cavs the ultimate dark horse entering the 2017-18 NBA season?
Take a look at Kevin Love. Despite putting up his best numbers as a Cavalier in points (19) and rebounds (11.1) last season, the stretch forward's name is once again in trade rumors with the arrival of Jae Crowder. If there is anything that the 2017 All-Star had done consistently during their last two playoff runs, it was the decrease in production. Which begs the question: has Love really been effective in Cleveland? The way we see it, he represents the team's lack of two-way players.
What about Derrick Rose? Every season after his last surgery has been a make-or-break campaign for the former Most Valuable Player, whose upcoming stint with the Cavs is viewed as a one-year rental. From being a celebrated superstar, Rose isn't even the second-most scrutinized member of his team. Nothing less than a championship can salvage what's left of his legacy, although no one is betting on him to pull it off.
If Isaiah Thomas isn't the epitome of being an underdog, then we don't know who else is. The last pick of the 2011 draft is coming off an MVP season (28.9 pts, 5.9 ast, 2.7 reb; finished fifth in voting), and yet Danny Ainge easily shipped him with a bunch of assets for someone who is bigger but had almost the same numbers as him (25.2 pts, 5.8 ast. 3.2 reb). Looks like Isaiah's career will forever be defined by how his heart and the chip on his shoulder can overcome his size.
And finally, LeBron James. As superhuman as he is, the man is rendered powerless in the face of his kryptonite, the Golden State Warriors. Losing arguably the best teammate he's ever had certainly did not help. It's quite ironic that better teamwork is beating the man considered as the consummate teammate, just like how his weak spot (shooting) is the strong point of his greatest adversary. Only the basketball gods can draw up a situation where the King humbly bows down in defeat.
With the odds horribly stacked against the Cavaliers, it would take more than being "all in"—perfect games, perfect chemistry, and perfect health—for the retooled Cleveland squad to turn into something that will threaten "The Golden Democracy."