COACH: Mike Brown | 2007-08: 45-37
Cleveland Cavaliers

Is Mo Williams' arrival a sign of good things to come for the Cavs?
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
"I think this makes them the favorite in the East."
-- NBA insider

Those words, uttered moments after the Cavaliers acquired Mo Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks in one of those wild-and-crazy three-team trades on Aug. 13, may have some validity.

Think about it. Two seasons ago, thanks to one of the greatest playoffs series in history by LeBron James, the Cavs knocked off the Pistons and made their way into The Finals, where they promptly got a four-game beatdown from the Spurs. As brilliant as LeBron was against the Pistons, the Spurs put him on lockdown. The Cavs, lacking no other consistent option on offense against the Spurs, sputtered.

Williams instantly becomes option No. 2. Last season, Williams averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 assists for the Milwaukee Bucks. In the season before that, Williams averaged 17.3 points per game and 6.1 assists. For a team who has had only one man (take a wild guess) average more points and more assists than that the past two seasons, those numbers look like manna from heaven to Cavs fans.

After all, everyone knows the Cavs can play defense, but they didn't have the balance or firepower on offense to compete with the elite teams. Sure, you'll get a great game from Zydrunas Ilgauskas or a big three from Daniel Gibson, but consistency with the rock has been the Cavs' biggest concern. Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry knew this, and hence, the move for Williams.

"Mo is a player that excels as a traditional point guard, but also brings an extra dimension with his scoring and versatility. His ability to push the tempo, get inside the lane, shoot from the perimeter and distribute the ball will be very valuable for us."

That he does. As's Joe Gabriele notes, Cleveland hasn't had a consistent offensive threat that can take the heat off LeBron in his five years on the Cavs. LeBron, who learned of the trade as he was helping lead Team USA to gold at the Olympics, went all Fonzie on the trade, giving it an Ayyyyy.

''It can help us. I think Mo is a very good point guard,'' James said.

''He can create for himself and create for others, so it's a great move. I think it's an 'A.' ''

Williams' A-game wasn't always on display in Milwaukee, as he has missed 54 games in the past three seasons with a variety of maladies including a strained shoulder, a sprained thumb and something called pubic symphysis (you really don't want to know, but it sounds painful). If Williams misses his average of one month of games again, it could be the Cavs' offense that is painful to watch.

By re-signing Delonte West, the Cavs have a capable point to back up Williams or start alongside him if the Cavs don't mind moving Williams to shooting guard. They also have Daniel Gibson to provide firepower off the bench. Besides staying healthy, another thing Williams doesn't do particularly well is play D. But for a team that led the NBA with a +4.15 rebounding differential and was seventh in blocked shots at 5.2 per game, the Cavs' guards can have perimeter mistakes on defense erased by the front line of Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace and the Gumby-like Anderson Varejao.

And then there's Wally Szczerbiak, who could be an important part of the Cavs plans this year, ironically, if he's not a part of the Cavs' plans this season. Szczerbiak is in the final year of a six-year deal. His expiring contract could be used as a valuable trade chip if the Cavs feel they need a final piece to make a run for the Finals. Heck, the Cavs offered Szczerbiak for Vince Carter just before the 2008 Draft. So, it's out there.

Of course, the whole thing still revolves around LeBron, who will be a sure-fire MVP candidate. If he and Williams can sync quickly, the Cavs should be a major handful for the rest of the NBA.

-- Rob Peterson

Single-game tickets are now on sale for the 2008-09 season to the general public.

Could one of the keys to Cleveland's season be where Zydrunas Ilgauskas positions himself on the key?

Ilguaskas, who, somehow still carries the "injury-prone" tag despite only missing 23 games in the last six seasons, has parked himself on the low post for most of his career, banging, bruising and bullying his way to the block. At 7-3, you would expect nothing less.

Yet, last season, Big Z, slowly (insert joke about Z's speed here) began to move away from the hoop. When called upon, Z has added a reliable 15-foot elbow jumper to his arsenal.

Z is following in other bigs' footsteps such as Jack Sikma, Bill Laimbeer and Patrick Ewing, who, as they grew older, moved themselves out of the post and developed mid-range or in the case of Sikma and Laimbeer, long-range games. Don't worry, Cavs fans, Z won't be shooting threes. Still it gives credence to the adage: old centers don't die; they just (shoot) fade away (jumpers).

By having Ilgauskas set up on the high post could open the Cleveland offense further by creating a solid pick-and-roll set and by opening the lane for guys like LeBron, Williams and West to slash through the lane. It also preserves his 33-year-old body, which, less face it, will hold up longer if he's not always in the post banging, shoving and pushing. Leave that to Wallace and Varejao, who seem to like mixing it up down low.

-- Rob Peterson

1000 In last year's Playoffs, LeBron James became the 170th player to reach the 1,000-point plateau for the postseason, but the third youngest in history behind Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker.
LeBron is the most talented player in the East. His size and strength make him a beast to defend and game plan against.
Throw in the fact that they finally have a half-way decent point guard and some above average role players Ė Ilgauskas, Szczerbiak, Varejo, Pavlovic - and this could be a very dangerous team, one that if things go right could find themselves back in the NBA finals.
Big Ben isnít what he use to be but is still studly enough to anchor one of the better defenses in the East.
-- NBA Scout
LeBron James has spoken out in favor of the Mo Williams acquisition, which is really all we needed to hear. With so much of the Cavs offense running through King James, Williams should be free to do what he does best - score.

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Record: 41-41, 5th in Eastern Conf.
Playoffs: Lost in Conf. Semis to Miami, 4-3
Scoring Leader: L. James, 24.9 PPG
Rebounding Leader: Z. Ilgauskas, 9.8 RPG
Assist Leader: D. West, 6.1 APG

Simulated Season Details
PG Maurice Williams 17.2 3.5 6.3
SG Wally Szczerbiak 11.5 2.9 1.4
SF LeBron James 30.0 7.9 7.2
PF Ben Wallace 4.2 7.4 0.6
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas 14.1 9.3 1.4

G Daniel Gibson 10.4 2.3 2.5
G Delonte West 10.3 3.7 4.5
F Anderson Varejao 6.7 8.3 1.1
F Sasha Pavlovic 7.4 2.5 1.6
F JJ Hickson Draft
F Darnell Jackson Draft
C Lorenzen Wright Free agent
F Dwayne Jones Free agent
G Damon Jones Trade
F Joe Smith Trade
Points Scored 96.37 (24th)
Points Allowed 96.73 (9th)
Field-Goal Percentage .439 (27th)
Opponents' FG% .455 (11th)
Rebounding Diff. +4.15 (1st)
TV: FSN Ohio
Radio: WTAM 1100 AM
Web: Official site
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