My prediction for the top 6 is looking about right, but I did not anticipate the Heat struggling so much with injuries early in the season. The East is looking as formidable as I thought it would before the season started.
Now, the Cavs...
I think this season is going about just how I expected. I got lost in the sauce a little after the 8-1 start, but I expected them to be around a 5-6 seed at this point. The only thing is, I don't really see this team improving at all right now. I think Evan Mobley is essentially the same player as last season and I'm wondering if he is always going to be a 15 and 9 guy, which is fine but I don't think that type of production merits a max extension (yes, I know the Cavs will eventually give him one). I think Darius has improved, but he does not really have the ability to take over a game right now, especially in the 4th quarter. Spida has been amazing, no doubt, but he has also had some nights where he disappeared in big moments.
The rest of the rotation has been a little disappointing, to be honest. Some nights I like Caris, other nights I want him traded. He actually is performing pretty well defensively, though. Same thoughts regarding Cedi and I think he is probably the most realistic player to be traded at this point. I think Kevin Love's disappointing season can be attributed to injuries, but an injured Kevin Love isn't worth much to this team outside of his amazing leadership. I am glad Dean is back, and dare I even say, Isaac Okoro is showing some signs of not being a very bad basketball player.
Though I sound a tad pessimistic right now, I actually really do like the construction of this roster outside of missing a piece or two. The two most glaring problems, in my opinion, are JB Bickerstaff and a missing wing who can guard the perimeter and hit spot-up 3's. I am tired of teams purposefully leaving Okoro/Stevens open in the corner just to watch them brick another 3.
JB at the end of games is slowly becoming Holtmann-lite. His out of timeout play calls in the 4th quarter are shockingly bad, and the Cavs seemingly can't keep close leads either. This team is performing too well in advanced statistics (currently 2nd in net rating in the entire NBA) to be hampered by coaching. I do not think the Cavs will fire him, but Dan Gilbert is notorious for saying "you have to take the roast out of the oven." That is what caused him to fire Paul Silas in Lebron's second year even with a winning record, but as of right now I think JB is too important for the culture of this team.
Prospective trade targets before the deadline in February: Bojan Bogdanovic (long shot as the Cavs do not have the assets for him), Alec Burks, Malik Beasley, Tim Hardaway Jr. (meh), Mo Bamba, Kenrich Williams (meh). Add in any others you have seen rumored, but I do not envision any sort of season-changing trade. The most I can see is an even trade where the Cavs give up some creative scoring for a defender and spot-up outside shooting.
Good news, though! The Cavs have the second easiest remaining schedule in the league. Hopefully they can push for 50+ wins and secure a top 4 seed for the playoffs because, well, you know how they perform on the road.
I agree Go Cavs!