COMMENTARY | It's all well and good to try to assess how the Cleveland Cavaliers' new roster might jell next season, or how Mike Brown's defense-first strategy might lead to more wins.
But the surest way to forecast how the Cavaliers season might play out before actually seeing them play together is by analyzing statistics.
It's too soon to predict where the Cavaliers will end up in the standings but if past stats are a good indicator (and they usually always are), there is reason to be equal parts optimistic, concerned and downright frightened about the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Good: Team Rebounding
If there is one area that Cavaliers fans can feel confident about going into next season, it's team rebounding.
While the Cavs ranked a disappointing 22nd in the league in rebounds per game last year, that statistic doesn't tell the whole story. Anderson Varejao was leading the league in rebounds per game through 25 games (14.4) before getting sidelined with a blood clot in his lung. Varejao's absence put the rebounding responsibilities on Tristan Thompson's shoulders. Thompson responded by averaging 9.4 rebounds, which was fifth among power forwards.
Although formidable by themselves, Varejao and Thompson will be joined this season by Andrew Bynum at center. In his last full season, Bynum averaged 11.8 rebounds with the Los Angeles Lakers, which ranked second amongst centers. In addition, the acquisition of Earl Clark, an over-sized small forward, will increase the rebounding production at that respective position.
For a team that has struggled in almost every facet of the game the past three years, the Cavaliers are assured to be one of the league leaders in rebounding if they can keep everyone on the floor.
The Bad: Wing Players' Field Goal Percentage
When Kyrie Irving looked like he was on an island as the team's only reliable perimeter scorer last year, it's because he was.
After a solid start to the year in his first seven games, Dion Waiters' field goal percentage plummeted. Even though Waiters steadily improved throughout the year, he still ranked 21st out of 22 shooting guards (41.2 percent) in field goal percentage. Similarly, small forward Alonzo Gee ranked 21st out of 23 small forwards (41 percent). And while the Cavaliers added potential starter Earl Clark at small forward, Clark only shot slightly better (44 percent) than Gee last year and is just a career 41.4-percent shooter.
The Cavaliers drafted another small forward in Sergey Karasev with the 19th pick this year. Karasev is the best shooter out of the bunch, but it's unknown if the rest of his game will be NBA-ready by the start of the season.
If the Cavaliers are going to make real improvements in the win column next season, they are going to have to pray that between Waiters, Gee, Clark and Karasev, someone can score with some kind of efficiency at shooting guard or small forward.
The Ugly: Injury History
The not-so-subtle shadow hanging over the Cavaliers season is the injury history of the team's key players. Andrew Bynum, who missed all of last season for the Philadelphia 76ers with knee injuries, is just the tip of the iceberg. All-Star Kyrie Irving's laundry list of injuries the past two seasons have limited him to just 110 games; Anderson Varejao has only played in 81 games total the last three years; Dion Waiters missed 21 games in his one year in the league; and if the Cavaliers' medical staff didn't have enough to worry about, incoming No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett is coming off shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff.
The Cavaliers have stocked their roster with some legitimate talent but if they can't keep their star players on the court, it's going to be another ugly season in Cleveland.
Adam Redling is a freelance writer from Cleveland, OH. He covers the Cavaliers for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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