Cleveland's core is loaded with young, if unproven, talent. At 22 years old and with three seasons under his belt, Kyrie Irving is a seasoned veteran compared to Andrew Wiggins (19), Anthony Bennett (21) and Dion Waiters (22). Rounding out the frontcourt, Tristan Thompson and Zeller, both of whom are under 25 years of age, join veteran bigs Anderson Varejao and Brendan Haywood. Matthew Dellavedova, 2014 first-round pick Joe Harris and Carrick Felix will pick up the slack left in Jack's wake. Now comes word that the Cavs are pursuing Ray Allen to further entice James. For this exercise, we'll project the Cavs to snag James' pal Mike Miller for the room exception (worth $2.7 million) and Anthony Tolliver as the stretch big with the remaining sliver of about $2 million in cap space.
You want to see James' impact on the offensive end? Cleveland plummeted in the offensive efficiency ranks from fourth in 2009-10 all the way down to 29th the season after James left -- moving from one of the best offensive machines to one of the most pathetic outfits overnight. That's the power of James. For the most part, Cleveland hasn't recovered on that end of the floor. In the four seasons without James, the Cavs have never ranked higher than 23rd in points per possession.
Adding James, of course, would change all that. He's the most versatile, talented offensive force in the game. There's nothing on the court he can't do except maybe ignore a wide-open shooter on the perimeter. That's pretty much it.
But whether he's a good fit with Cleveland's personnel is a different story. Irving is not a good off-ball shooter and primarily needs the ball in his hands to be effective. He shot just 31.2 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers last season, ranking 76th among 77 guards in catch-and-shoot efficiency last season. Only Michael Carter-Williams was worse. Yuck. He'll need to spend the summer working on improving that area of his game if he wants to maximize his value next to James. Will he have the motivation to reinvent himself after landing a $90 million contract?
Cleveland coach Blatt, widely labeled as an offensive guru in his career overseas, certainly has the brains to pull it off. A graduate of the Princeton offense, Blatt would do well to use Cleveland's athleticism and youth to his advantage by pushing the pace and moving the ball offensively. Irving would have to cede primary control to James, but the Cavs would be stocked with able and willing passers in James, Miller and Varejao.
Wiggins is the wild card. New Cavs GM David Griffin already has labeled Wiggins as a "big 2-guard," which would ease the overlap on the wing between James, Wiggins and Bennett. Wiggins projects to be a solid 3-point shooter after shooting 34.1 percent at Kansas, but he's nowhere near as sharp as Miller, who is an all-time elite marksman. Getting out in transition and cutting to the basket in the half court -- a Blatt specialty -- would be Wiggins' best plan of attack in a James/Irving-centric offense.