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  • Writer's pictureDan Carney

Battle Of The Bonded: Who Wins First?

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

When Lebron left the Cavs before the 2010 season, Dan Gilbert infamously claimed that his team would win a championship before “ the self-proclaimed ‘King’” would. Two years later, he was wrong. ‘Bron won his first title with the Heat against the Thunder in just his second season with Miami. That team looked like it could win another three rings, at least, but then he left again! He came back to Cleveland to fulfill his promise of bringing home the Larry O’Brien trophy to his hometown. Then he left again! Now the King’s throne is high in the hills of Los Angeles as he chases another title with a third team. You know all of this because you weren’t in a coma (my apologies if you were… but good morning!). But what about the teams he ditched? Where do they stand? We take a look at the dust the modern-day G.O.A.T. left behind and try to see which turns to gold first: The Cavs or the Heat.

The Case For Cleveland

If you like scoring and fast-paced basketball, you probably didn’t watch many Cavs games this year. And if you like defense then, well, you didn’t tune in either. Cleveland may rock, but their basketball team does not (unless you count rock bottom). They scored the second least points per game and had the worst defensive rating across the Association, but is there a brightside? Collin Sexton had maybe the most underrated rookie campaign and absolutely deserves a look at All-Rookie first team as a two guard. Cedi Osman looks like he has above-average white guy potential, and somewhere Kevin Love is trying to remember what it’s like to live in LA and not the Midwest. Aside from these three guys, there’s not much potential on the roster. BUT (and this is a fat, fat but) what about the first pick? Cleveland is tied for the best chance to receive the first pick in the draft to select Zion Williamson, who ironically is often compared with the former Cav Lebron James. Even if they just get someone in the top three, it’ll improve the talent on their roster dramatically. It’s likely they could suck for another couple years, so if they build around the couple guys they have now, hit a homerun in the lottery, and find a stable coach… they could be playoff bound five years from now. The good news is that they can only go up from here. My prediction for next year’s team…? 23 wins.

Making It For Miami

The Heat were one of the more fun teams to watch this year, especially with Wade’s farewell tour and Derrick Jones Jr. trampoline-type hops (seriously, it’s insane), but I never saw them as playoff-bound. No Dragic meant increased playing time at the point for Justice Winslow, and it worked! Point-Justice looked great, but that was one of few highlights outside of Bouncy-Boots Jones (this would be the worst nickname in sports). Unlike the Cavs, the Heat have guys they’ve been trying to tap potential out of for a few years now, and it looks like they’re getting near their ceiling. Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside were supposed to be fringe to full-on All Stars by this time, but now Whiteside looks overpaid and Richardson overwhelmed. With their winning culture established under the great Pat Riley and brilliant Erik Spoelstra, it doesn’t look like they’ll tank anytime soon. They could really benefit from finding a diamond in the rough at the end of this year’s lottery and try to mimic what the Clippers accomplished this year: develop new guys under the guise of productive vets ready for bigger opportunities (suck on that homonym). Those are a lot of big “ifs”, but I believe in the front office. Miami continues to throw its hat in the ring for the big free agents every year, and its honorable, but so far unsuccessful. If Miami gets a rook they can develop, signs one or two vets, brings back Dragic, and signs a notable free agent in the next two to three years - then I can see them as contenders. Those are a lot of “ifs”, and who likes those! My prediction for next year’s team…? 44 wins.

First Ring

So who wins a title first? That’s a lot to answer. I’ll phrase it this way, “which team is more likely to win a ring in the next five years?”. My prediction is that Miami goes all in on a big trade or free agent within the next three years, and that the Cavs are still finding out if their draft picks turn into superstars. I’m going with Miami as the team to win first. But look out for the Cavs… if Sexton develops, they get one of Zion-Morant-Barrett, and maybe one or two more lottery picks in the next couple seasons… they could be scary. It’ll just take them a bit. Who knows, maybe Lebron will own the team by then.

Follow me on social media @danmancarney and SnapChat @dancarneydan and let me hear what you want me to talk about.

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