In the course of an 82-game season, who can say why a team goes cold or suddenly heats up? In two words: I can.
The Cleveland Cavaliers recently pivoted away from a six-game losing streak and into a 6-game win streak, and the catalyst for this transition isn’t an easy conclusion to reach. Maybe getting LeBron James back did help, but let’s not forget how in his glorious return from some possibly fictive injury that could only be treated by flying here and there—on airplanes no less!— he failed in carrying his team to victory. Moreover, this rather recent return loss to the Phoenix Suns mirrored the Cavs opening game loss of the season to the New York Knicks. The King returned, and the King was vanquished, twice. I think, based off this rather quantitative body of evidence that it’s pretty obvious how when LeBron returns from anything, betrayal or injury, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as a franchise, lose. Therefore, if he’s to get credit for the six-game win streak, then maybe he should get credit for the six-game losing streak too. After all, they couldn’t have done it without his 33 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in the sixth game of said losing streak. Who knows? Maybe without him the streak would have only risen to five losses in a row.
In light of these observations, the case is rather clear that LeBron, a four-time MVP, isn’t quite the answer to Cleveland’s troubles. I mean, what does an MVP have to do with winning anyway? The Oklahoma City Thunder has an MVP, and they might not even make the Playoffs. Kevin Garnett of the Brooklyn Nets is an MVP, and he eats people. Derrick Rose is an MVP, and he’s riding Jimmy Butler’s coattails. Lastly, the Los Angeles Lakers started the preseason with two MVPs, and yet they only have 12 wins to show for it. I think it’s pretty safe to assume based off these case studies that MVPs may be an overestimated, or even outdated, factor in today’s game. In fact, the Atlanta Hawks make such a case every time they win with a bunch of Utah Jazz cast-offs and a busted up Al Horford. The one thing all these MVPs have in common is they break down time and time again. Most Valuable Player or something starting with MVP that means ‘I’m really, really fragile and will only let my teammates down for various stretches of a season because I’m too hurt to put on a uniform.’
So, on the one hand, the reason behind the Cavs turnaround could be the return of the world’s best player from injury. But we’ve already seen how such is not the case. Therefore, let us consider the proverbial other hand, which happens to be Doug Collins’ opinion that the Cavs, despite acquiring the likes of an MVP and Kevin Love in the offseason, finally believe their roster is built for a championship run because of another less celebrated transaction. What transaction was that? you ask. The answer, unlike my dragged out opinion, happens to be one word: MOZGOV.
Lots of teams may have former MVPs, but only one team has a Timofey Mozgov.
Yes, I hear what you’re saying. You’re saying, but, Bryan, the Cavs lost their first three games with Timofey on the roster. And, I would say, you’re right. However, I would add that it takes time for a team to adjust how they play when new teammates are always being added, especially when one of those new teammates averages 8.8 points per game. By the way, Mozgov also averages 8 rebounds per game. That’s almost a double-double! The Cavs may have been filled with doubt, but now they have a center who is made out of pixie dust and happy thoughts. Meanwhile, LeBron James is just a man who averages more everything than anyone, but statistics aren’t something to believe in—they’re empirical and shit.