Cleveland Cavaliers Best in the East

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been proclaimed by many to be the next NBA champions after their signings of Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. They should indeed be much better, but how much better is the question. Last year Lebron James did everything, racking up 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. This as absolutely ridiculous, and Lebron James by himself should have made Cleveland a playoff team.

However, the awful personnel around James last year proved otherwise, guiding Cleveland to a 42-40 record, just missing the playoffs.Enter Danny Ferry's offseason makeover. His first action was to resign Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a man with an incredibly hard to spell name who became an all-star center in the East by default(behind Shaq). He did indeed put up decent stats with 17 points and 9 rebounds a game, but he isn't a game-changer. He is too soft and too much of a defensive liability. However, there were no other decent centers on the market, and the Cavaliers want to win now, so this was a move they had to make.

It still would have been good to see them try to get Stromile Swift, who would have saved them money, and perhaps put up better numbers than Ilgauskas. Last year, Swift put up 10 points and 5 boards in only 21 minutes. Outside of Memphis's rotation, he might be able to put up All-Star numbers(at least in the East). Overall, resigning Ilgauskas was a move the Cavaliers had to make, and it was a decent, if pricey, signing.Ferry then signed Larry Hughes, who played very well in Washington last year, doing a little bit of everything. He put up a 19-6-5 stat line last year, which was absolutely incredible considering he never did better than 18-5-2 previously.

Apparently he decided to "break out" when he was 26 years old and in a contract year. He also became a bit of a thief last year, getting 3 steals per game and an NBA All-Defensive Team spot. Despite this, he is not at all a good defender. Dwayne Wade scored on him almost at will in the Heat-Wizards playoff series. He gambles to get steals, which can leave him out of position.

He will also never be a great one on one defender like Bruce Bowen or Ron Artest. He is good at getting steals, but not at defense. Ultimately, the Cavaliers did overpay for him, giving him 12 million per year, almost max dollars. This is too much money for a guy who may or may not mesh with Lebron James, is an injury risk(he has never played more than 73 games in his career), and played his best basketball in a contract year. He will make the team better, but not as much as Ferry hoped.Now Donyell Marshall is a solid signing.

He is a big man who is a very good 3 point shooter, and can get it done offensively. Unfortunately, he is not a very good defender. He should probably backup Drew Gooden, but he may start in place of him.

He will take pressure off Lebron James with his outside shooting, and will make this team better in the short term.The Cavaliers starting lineup will contain Eric Snow at PG, Hughes at SG, James at SF, Marshall/Gooden at PF, and Ilgauskas at C. Eric Snow was a good player with Philadelphia, but last year didn't get many chances behind Jeff McInnis.

He is a solid point guard who provides toughness and leadership. Unfortunately, he couldn't shoot a 3 if his life depended on it. The Cavaliers main need last year was outside shooting to keep the defense honest, but outside of Donyell Marshall, they didn't really address it. A great signing to cap off the offseason for this team would be Damon Jones, a 43 percent 3 point shooter last year.

The Cavaliers improved offensively with Marshall and Hughes(anyone is an upgrade over Ira Newble), but they took a step backwards defensively. Gooden and Newble are better defenders than Hughes and Marshall. The Cavaliers will be the Kansas City Chiefs of basketball next season.This offseason seems to have propelled the Cavaliers into the top 4 in the East, along with Miami, Detroit, and Indiana. However, their signings were not slam dunks, and Ilgauskas and Hughes will not be as good as advertised. Nonetheless, with Lebron and their recent signings, the Cavaliers should be much improved, just not the best in the East.

.Vikas Paruchuri is a sports columnist who writes on the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. He maintains a website at with sports analysis and opinion columns.

By: Vikas Paruchuri

Baseball World

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