LAS VEGAS -- The period of congratulating and backslapping for the Cleveland Cavaliers organization is drawing toward a close. The realization of what their incredible offseason means is starting to sink in.
LeBron James is back, Kevin Love may be on the way, and expectations and pressure are about to arrive right on their heels. It's what would be considered a happy problem -- one the team's principals have already started considering.
"Our team, we have a lot of work to do," Cavs All-Star Kyrie Irving said this week during Team USA training camp. "Everyone is going to be coming for us, and that is what you want as a competitor, especially in the NBA. When it comes to that point, I'll be prepared."
Irving and teammate Dion Waiters are both in Las Vegas this week with the pressing focus of the national team. Irving is in a fight to make the roster for the first time, and Waiters is part of the Select Team, an indication of his growing status, much like where Irving was in 2012.
But the duo's thoughts in some of the daily workouts are naturally drifting toward October, when they will share the floor with a vastly improved team that will also significantly change their roles.
A year ago, Irving and Waiters were seen as the cornerstones of the Cavs' future. Now they are the supporting cast for a four-time MVP. That fits nicely in a sentence and perhaps on the chalkboard, but both young guards are facing a major alteration in their worlds and, on a much more basic level, how much time they're going to have the ball in their hands.
I'm planning to go watch tape to see what D-Wade did when he played with LeBron. I need to learn how to be effective out there with him." -- Dion Waiters
At times Waiters and Irving have had issues just sharing between themselves during their two seasons together. Last season, coach Mike Brown ended up moving Waiters to the bench so he could get more time as the featured ball handler. The Cavs were underwhelming with this setup and now will have to deal with things getting diluted further.
"You do think about [changes] because you're going to be playing with the greatest player in the game," Irving said. "I've talked to several teammates about how we're going to have to change our games."
It's more complex than just looking at shot totals, but that is a tidy stat that paints a bit of a picture of what the Cavs' array of offensive options must manage.
Last season, James averaged 17.6 shots a game, which was marginally the least he put up in his four years with the Miami Heat. Teammate Dwyane Wade averaged 14.1 a game, four fewer than in his first season with James in 2010-11. Chris Bosh averaged 12.1. This generally worked fantastically as the Heat were the No. 2 offensive team in the league behind the Los Angeles Clippers during the regular season.