INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Kevin Love understands what’s in front of him and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"There are a lot of expectations," Love said during his introductory press conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts on Tuesday. "LeBron (James) is the focal point, but we have a lot of darn good players."
During the previous four seasons combined, the Cavs compiled the worst record in the NBA. During this summer, they added Love, LeBron James, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion (soon, anyway) and several others. They also signed Kyrie Irving to a contract extension.
How far can these new Cavs go?
It’s a good question, and Love didn’t want to get too specific. But let’s not kid anyone here — the Cavs are thinking championship.
They do have the necessary ingredients of so many title-winning teams before them. James, Marion, Miller and James Jones each possess at least one championship ring. Anderson Varejao possesses big-game playoff experience. Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and several others offer youth, ability and enthusiasm.
Oh, and LeBron is the best player in the game. Love is a superstar, and if Irving isn’t yet, he is well on his way.
So the Cavs have it all — veteran winners, true leaders, talented youngsters, depth and real stars. As Cavs general manager David Griffin put it, mildly, "We’ve built quite a bit of momentum this summer."
Now, positive outlooks and winning-on-paper aside, there are some questions — questions that can only be answered once the season begins (and perhaps, ends).
With zero playoff appearances, will Love, Irving, Waiters and some of the others be able to step up on the NBA’s biggest stage?
Will first-time NBA coach David Blatt be able to find enough shots for everyone? Don’t forget, along with LeBron, Love and Irving, Waiters is capable of scoring 20-plus in games, too.
And how long will it take for this thing to get going? Will the Cavs tear it up right away? Or will chemistry be a problem? If not late, then at least early?
Also, as Cavs fans have been asking for weeks, who will defend the rim? And who will start at point guard if Irving misses time?
But the truth is, all those questions are really just mindless nitpicking. It’s discussing (and even overreacting) to potential negatives just because we can, just because we have the time.
Reality is the Cavs already are a team that’s built to win championships. Right now, today. And Love is the type of piece all championship hopefuls dream of. He’s 6-foot-10, just 26 years old when the season starts, buries 3-pointers like a shooting guard, and can lead the league in rebounding. He proved all that during his first six NBA seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and no other power forward can match him in the latter two qualities.
It’s why the Cavs traded No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and second-year forward Anthony Bennett to Minnesota as part of a package for Love.
Place Love next to LeBron, and you’re immediately in business. Place Love next to James and Irving and the others, and you have no reason to doubt this team will be anything but a smash hit.
If the Cavs were located in Los Angeles and went by "Lakers," every sports fan everywhere would be guaranteeing great things. But because it’s Cleveland … well, you know the story.
But that’s OK. It’s probably better that the buzz is merely everyday big, and not major-media-market big. There is actually a difference.
Only one thing really matters right now, anyway.
"I’m committed to this team, committed long term to the end goal and that’s to win championships,” Love said.
The Cavs, clearly, are committed to that, too. And it sure helps to have a lot of darn good players.