Kyrie-and-Dion-Eric-P.-Mull

Five Questions Heading Into Opening Night: On Cavs backcourt and Bynum

No. 2: Will Cavs young backcourt be as good as we want them to be?

Mike Brown is asking Kyrie Irving to play defense and by all accounts, Irving is more than willing to get his hands dirty. If this team is going to defend their way to the playoffs, a lot of that burden is going to be on Irving and his backcourt buddy, Dion Waiters.

Both of these guys excel with the ball in their hands, that goes without question. Last season, Waiters struggled early when he was trying to figure out how to play off the ball. But Irving is obviously the unequivocal leader on this team and he has to be the guy setting up the offense. Once the season wore on, Waiters became increasingly comfortable off the ball, something that will continue to help Irving immensely. 


As a rookie last season, Waiters showed up for camp in terrible shape, looking slow and sloppy. It was just the opposite this camp. He came in great shape and his preseason went well. His jumper looked good and he was making much better decisions. He has to learn to not rely on his jump shot so much, he is lethal when he is attacking; drawing fouls and being able to finish in traffic will be what helps this offense the most.

If he can do that, we may be looking at a break out season for the former Syracuse star. Meanwhile, if it appears like Irving made it look easy this preseason, it's because he has. He pretty much did whatever he wanted to, scoring inside and out. He looks healthy and fresh and I am especially intrigued to see him slide over to the 2-guard when Jarrett Jack is running the point. That could be a deadly combo.

Irving is well on his way to another All Star appearance and I am going to go out on a limb and say he will be in the discussion for the top three point guards in the league after this season. Look, we all know how good Irving is and is going to be. But last season, I think we saw complacency kick in toward the end. It didn’t hurt his stats at all, but he just seemed a bit off. Nothing wrong with that; he’s a young kid who had never really been on a losing team before. It happens. But we want Irving to be better than last season. And he wants it too.

ESPN ranked Kyrie Irving the eighth best player in the league. Irving wants to be the best player in the league. Lets hope for everyone’s sake it happens.

No.1: Andrew Bynum, what can we expect?

So, now it is time to address the 7-foot elephant in the room. I mean, I’ll be honest, I don’t have the slightest idea what Bynum is going to give the Cavs. I know what I want him to give us, but until he steps foot on the court it is all a mystery.

Lets say Bynum comes back 75 percent of his former self and offers Cleveland 60 games. Bynum at 75 percent is better than the majority of centers in this league. But his knees are such an unknown. By all reports, he has looked great in practice. Awesome. Let me know when he looks great in a game.

If I am Cleveland, they should be looking at Bynum like this: anything he gives us is a plus. It would be foolish to expect him to play like the former All Star he is. He had his best statistical season under Mike Brown; just give me something close to that. But those knees. Now, who knows what really happened last season in Philadelphia. His status changed as much as his hair did. And Bynum had a ton of motivation to suit up last season too; a healthy Bynum isn’t playing on an incentive-laden deal in Cleveland, for example.

But make one thing certain, a healthy Bynum makes this Cavs team very interesting. It gives them a legitimate star with Kyrie Irving and their young crew. I believe they are a playoff team with Bynum. Without him, I am not completely sold, but they are really close. I am dreaming of Bynum making his debut opening night in The Q, the place would erupt. Maybe his first play, they dump it into the low post and he goes to work. But like I said, until he laces up those Nikes, nobody knows.

For question No. 3 on the Cavs bench click here. To follow Nick Mancini on Twitter: @NickMance.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. 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, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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