Ever since Lebron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to go to Miami, the Cavs have been rebuilding and now almost three years later, they have assembled an excellent group of players. Kyrie Irving is a budding superstar and a franchise player, Dion Waiters is a fantastic secondary scoring option, Tristan Thompson is becoming one of the best rebounders in the NBA and has developed an offensive game and Zeller is a solid big man. With that four man core of first round draft picks, over the last two years, they are definitely on the right track and really only need one more thing to get back to the playoffs, improvement from their young players. That’s it, the pieces are there for a playoff team, especially once Anderson Varejao returns. The following are their young core players and what they need to do to improve in the off-season. If they do them, they could make the playoffs next year.
Kyrie Irving: He is a phenomenal shooter, ball-handler and scorer, but he has to become a better distributor. The skills are there, but he needs to be averaging more than 5.5 assists per game. If he can get to 7 by next year and get his teammates more involved the offense would run more smoothly. As Derrick Rose showed, when a high-scoring point guard becomes a better distributor, he makes everyone around him better and creates a much better offense.
Dion Waiters: Slow down! Dion Waiters is a tantalizing prospect, with skills that are few and far between and really do mirror Dwayne Wade. He is an incredibly gifted ball-handler and unstoppable at getting to the hoop, but he is simply too wild. He is so gifted, he just needs to let the game come to him, which will come in time. He also needs to improve his shot selection and pass once and awhile.
Tristan Thompson: A fantastic rebounder, athlete and defender, Thompson has improved dramatically in just his second season. He could stand to become a better post player, as they have no semblance of one on this team. He does not need to score 20 points per game or anything, but without a post presence, the guards are swarmed and if Thompson became a go-to player inside, he would open things up for Waiters and Irving.
Tyler Zeller: Zeller has almost peaked as a very solid NBA big man and is an above average scorer and rebounder, a hard worker and a player with a high motor and leadership skills. He will never be a go-to player or superstar, but if he could improve his strength, he could be even better. He has skill, but with his thin frame, he will have trouble banging inside and he must become stronger, or else he will be just a marginal starting center. If he beefs up, he could become a go-to big man.
* Note: All of these players could also improve on defense, but since they are all so young, their struggles are understandable, but need to be improved upon.