Donovan Mitchell

Three takeaways from the Cavaliers’ 3-1 start

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One didn’t have to be a basketball connoisseur to realize that the Cleveland Cavaliers roster 2022-23 was much better after the Donovan Mitchell trade. They landed one of the best young scorers in the league and put together one of the most prominent backcourts in the East.

Cleveland Cavaliers roster 2022-23

The early returns have been impressive for J.B Bickerstaff’s team. Outside of a loss on opening night that saw Darius Garland leave early with an injury, the young Cavs have looked like a team that could make a lot of noise in their conference.

Right now, they sit on a three-game winning streak, a 3-1 record, and hold the second seed in the East. But how well have they fared beyond their record? Let’s break it down.

The offense is better than it looks

The Cavs roster has more than enough offensive talent to put the ball through the hoop. That Garland-Mitchell combination is a force to be reckoned with, but let’s not leave Evan Mobley outside of the equation. Even if he has yet to find his shooting stroke from beyond the arc, he can still score with ease.

Still, the Cavs have sat in the middle of the pack when it comes to scoring this season. They rank 16th in the league at just 113.2 points per game, which isn’t that impressive in modern basketball. Then again, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as they rank 27th out of 30 in pace at 95.7 possessions per game.


With that in mind, the Cavs have been one of the most efficient teams in the league. They don’t take that many shots, but they make them. Also, their Offensive Rating (115.3) is the eighth-best in the NBA, so that PPG stat could be misleading.

Garland has only played 13 minutes due to that eye injury, so their offense should get another big spark once he’s back on the floor.

The defense has been elite

Bickerstaff should credit his defense for the Cavaliers’ record so far. They’re holding their rivals to just 100.8 points per game, which is the second-lowest mark in the league. Moreover, they also boast the second-best Defensive Rating in the Association at 102.6.

Right now, just four players have a negative defensive box-plus minus on the team. Of those two, Garland has barely played, and Isaac Okoro is only playing 17.5 minutes per game. Even despite the limited size sample, their defensive success doesn’t seem like a fluke.

In all honesty, that’s far from a surprise. They boast a potential generational defender in Mobley, while Jarrett Allen has done an outstanding job of keeping scorers away from the rim. They alone combine for 2.8 blocks and 1.7 steals per 36 minutes.


Mitchell, who’s not known for his defense, vowed to become a factor on that end of the floor, and he’s delivered thus far. Whether he’ll be able to keep that intensity up remains to be seen.

Do they have what it takes?

Thus far, the Cavs have lost against the Raptors and then beat the Bulls (minus Zach LaVine), Wizards, and Magic. So, maybe we should take those wins with a grain of salt, and it’s still too early to determine whether they’re ready to compete at the highest level.

But they’ve won all three games by double digits and seem to have developed a nice rapport on the court, even without last season’s best player out there. That 12.7 Net Rating could be misleading considering their somewhat weak schedule thus far, but they most definitely pass the eye test.

Don’t sleep on the young Cavs, they’re just getting started.

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