Cleveland Cavaliers: Quantifying A Season Of Unquantifiable Expectations

I was considering the idea of recapping all Cavs games this season without referencing the final score. I’m sure nobody really noticed, but I didn’t mention the score in relation to either of the Cavaliers first two preseason games. It was going to be my subliminal way to express how little I valued the importance of those scores specifically this season. After standing in my boardroom contemplating this idea recently though, an area of my house which also doubles as the place in my kitchen near the microwave, I decided that I wouldn’t go quite that far.

Not that I would ever pretend that this website is an online location where someone would go to actually find out what the score was in the most recent Cavs game, but I just figured it might be pretty difficult for me to purposefully not mention the score at least once in discussion of each of these upcoming games this season. I’m an all-in or all-out kind of guy, so I ended up voting down this option to omit. 

I do still stand steadfast in my belief that the final scores we will see, read, and talk about this season will indicate less in terms of progress and growth than they ever have before in the history of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball though. Not that I’m still standing in my kitchen waiting for my Boston Market Macaroni and Cheese to finish cooking specifically, just my stance on this particular topic in general.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving shoots baskets during practice at the NBA basketball team's training camp, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, in Independence, Ohio.
From plus minuses to PER’s, we now have metrics for seemingly everything we see in sports these days. All of which are designed and consumed under the pretense that these logarithms tell us how a person, player, or team, we just watched play a game of basketball actually performed in the process. The most universally accepted indcator of this success is the win / loss record still though, but even that doesn’t tell us the whole story. There is no statistical equation, in fact, that will properly and completely analyze the progress these Cavs will or won’t make on a daily basis in their effort to rebuild this organization as the season goes on. The only way we will truly be able to understand our chances as fans to witness the greatest rebuilding effort since the Chicago fire of 1873 is to collect our data the old fashioned way. We just have to watch.

Cleveland Cavaliers Tristan Thompson, left, shoots baskets under the watchful eyes of coach Jamahl Mosley during practice at the NBA basketball team's training camp, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, in Independence, Ohio.
This season for the Cavaliers is about growth, progress, developing chemistry, building confidence, and beginning to actually define what the word potential might mean in relation to this team and its young players. Growth for a team who’s most highly regarded star is a nineteen year old kid who was taking Sophomore ECON in Durham four weeks ago. The possibility of progress for a young power forward who probably isn’t old enough to realize just how freakishly athletic he is yet, in addition to not being old enough to purchase a sixer of Bud Light according to the State of Ohio. Chemistry between a core trio of complementary pieces all drafted in the first round who are all twenty-three years old or younger. A trio who’s best opportunity to succeed in their basketball careers may just be coming now in this new chance to all play together.  

Cleveland Cavaliers' Omri Casspi, from Israel, shoots over Detroit Pistons' Will Bynum, right, in the third quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, in Cleveland. Casppi scored 18 points in the Cavaliers' 90-89 loss to Detroit.
What this season is about is embracing the opportunity to watch Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Omri Casspi, and others develop an elevated on-court confidence in not only themselves, but also a confidence in each other. The entertainment, excitement, and hope that this Cavaliers team will provide its fanbase will be buried deep beneath the box score. It will only able to be obtained through simply watching the moments that make up the experience. It’s a season where becoming captured by statistics will prevent you from the ability to say that you were there when it all started again. You experienced the pain, and were there for the beginning.

NBA Basketball in its purest form will be on full display at Quicken Loans Arena this season. It will be filled with imperfections, growing pains, but also blended with brilliance as well. What Chris Grant has engineered right now will give this team the opportunity to take that first step forward in an appropriate and effective fashion. Exciting basketball without the rushing that always seemed to result in horrible contracts. An amnesty clause for the sake of clarity, at the expense of at least five more wins. A free agent signing of a player eight years past his prime for the provision of leadership and stability in an evolving locker room that needs as much to grow. The decision to keep a young Power Forward from Jamaica on the roster and in a rotation because he plays with a chip on his shoulder the size of this city.

I predicted on Joe Lull’s 92.3 FM Cavaliers Roundtable Preview that the Cavs would finish 11th in the East and win 23 games. I felt I owed Joe a number considering the gracious invite he extended me. Those are numbers that would still in all likelihood provide the 7th most ping pong ball chances at the first overall pick next June. They also represent growth by an organization who won with a winning percentage that would’ve resulted in 15 wins during a hypothetical sixty-six game season last year. My quantified prediction would suggest eight more wins technically, four teams finishing behind the Cavaliers out East, playing hard all season long yet still not shooting your rebuild in the proverbial foot when it comes time to add an additional piece. 

With the fear of so much to lose hanging over our heads like Mark Price’s retired Cavs Jersey in the Quicken Loans rafters on our way into most seasons during the last decade, this one provides none of that. There is nothing more we can lose. There is no further this team can fall. There is only one direction things can go this season, and that direction is up. A direction I firmly believe that we will all agree this team is indeed heading once this season comes to its rapid close. Even if the metrics tell us otherwise.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.