NBA: Why the Cleveland Cavaliers Are Title Contenders in 2016–17

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the NBA’s 2015–16 champions, and now all attention turns to whether or not the trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love can pull off a repeat performance. While the three-headed monster helped the Cavaliers end Cleveland’s brutal 52-year championship drought, the repeat may be tougher than ever, as the rest of the NBA is improving at a rapid rate.

The Golden State Warriors have created their own “super team,” while the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, and many other teams seem poised to push the Cavaliers. Fortunately, the Cavs still have plenty going for them, and we’re going to take a look at what exactly makes Cleveland a serious contender to get the job done and win yet another championship.

Obviously there are still questions surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Regardless, this team has more than enough talent to push any team in the NBA, and of course, we can’t forget the fact that James himself can essentially carry a team if needed.

Chemistry finally peaking for Cleveland

NBA: Why the Cleveland Cavaliers Are Title Contenders in 2016–17

(L-R) Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James represent one of the best big threes in the league | Jason Miller/Getty Images

The 2015–16 season was huge for Cleveland’s “big three.” James, Irving, and Love didn’t always click 100%, but down the home stretch, when it mattered most, these three were on the same page. If Love had an off game, James and Irving stepped up.

The trio was extremely dominant, and while each player didn’t explode every game, they all knew their roles and played them well. The chemistry between these three was crucial to their success last season, and it will carry over into the 2016–17 season.

What these three have built together in Cleveland can’t be understated; it’s enough to give them the benefit of the doubt over basically every other team in the NBA. While repeating as NBA champions is a tough task, if you want to bet on any single player to do it right now, it would have to be James. The fact that he has Irving and Love on his team is just an incredibly nice bonus.

Benefit of playing in the Eastern Conference

NBA: Why the Cleveland Cavaliers Are Title Contenders in 2016–17

LeBron James (L) and Kyrie Irving pump each other up | Jason Miller/Getty Images

Let’s clarify that while the Western Conference is indeed better than the Eastern Conference, the East has improved quite drastically over the 2016 offseason. Teams like the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, and the Toronto Raptors are just a few that could actually make a push against the Cleveland Cavaliers this year.

With that said, those four teams still aren’t on the same level as groups like the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and even the Memphis Grizzlies. The West truly has talent from top to bottom, which will make life tougher for each of the Eastern teams we mentioned. In turn, it makes the road to the NBA Finals just a bit easier for the Cavaliers.

To go along with that thought process, if and when the Cleveland Cavaliers is able to work through the Eastern Conference, they will inevitably face a team in the West that overcame a brutal stretch to get to the finals; one that probably was tougher than what the Cavs faced.

Consensus

NBA: Why the Cleveland Cavaliers Are Title Contenders in 2016–17

LeBron James celebrates a shot | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers are, and should be, one of the favorites to win the NBA title once again. There’s no question that they are exceptionally talented and have a player in James who is likely the best in the league. To go along with that, when you have two players competing alongside of him in Irving and Love, who are also capable of taking over at times, it pushes the team to the next level.

The Cavaliers’ road to back-to-back championships won’t be an easy one, but counting out James due to the improvement of other teams is a bad idea.

Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com and Basketball-Reference.com.