The signing of former Miami Heat center Chris Andersen makes the blow-up of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the near future a near-certainty. The ages of the Cavs players reveal they have limited time remaining as title contenders with their present roster, before their careers expire. The Miami Heat, among other teams, could benefit from the situation.
From the ESPN team database, players on the Cleveland roster include (ages in parenthesis): Birdman (38), Richard Jefferson (36), Mike Dunleavy (35), James Jones (35), Channing Frye (33), Mo Williams (33), LeBron James (31), J.R. Smith (30), Kevin Love (27), Iman Shumpert (26), Jordan McRae (25), Tristan Thompson (25), Kyrie Irving (24) and Kay Felder (21).
Four men are 35+, another four 30 to 33, while only one is under 24 years of age. Time is definitely on Miami's side for the next few years, as its young core of talent reaches their prime years. Meanwhile the Ohio team would mostly consist of guys in their mid-30's and over in 2020.
This season could be problematic for the Cleveland players over 30. Father time makes its presence felt then, as athletes lose an important step towards the end of the long 82-game grind. The great ones adjust in other ways, but the season does takes its toll on the body.
Pat Riley did a masterful job this summer by putting together a young mix of raw talent, along with breakout performances by underachievers. He saw the supporting cast for LeBron faces potential problems as the extra year takes its toll on veterans' bodies. The young duo of Love and Irving are still in their prime, but have been injury-prone in the past few seasons.
A cautious Riley signed people without major physical issues this time around. Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Derrick Williams, Rodney McGruder, Briante Weber all have legs in their 20's under them for this campaign. With their depth and versatility, the Heat could keep playing times down to simply outlast down an aging Cavaliers team as the season winds down in the spring.
In three years the current Cavaliers team will have six players over 36 years old, and no top draft picks to replace them. At that time the Miami Heat will have a core of experienced talent at the peak of their game. The Eastern Conference race will look very different by 2019, with teams like the Celtics, Raptors and Heat featuring key players 's in their mid-20's. 2016-17 and 2017-18 favor the Cavaliers, but after that the tide may turn as the new generation takes their turn in the NBA spotlight.
Taking responsibility for Miami's change is Dan Craig, of the 46-11 Skyforce. Below he carefully watches Waiters in the gym for the first time as a part of the Heat's team-centric development program.
Meet Mr. Waiters!— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 2, 2016
Find us on Snap ( MiamiHEAT) to go behind-the-scenes of Dion's first day on the job. pic.twitter.com/PwkdMFZUsX
If Craig's history with the Skyforce is an indication of the Heat's philosophy next season, Waiters will learn balance and unselfishness rules whenever he puts on a Heat uniform.
"According to his players he has established something resembling a collegiate atmosphere within the Skyforce. It is reflected in the fact that no one among the squad’s night-in, night-out core group averages more than 16 points a game or less than 8 points and it is reflected in a defense that gives up fewer points per game than any other NBADL team."
"There is not a guy on this team who says ‘I want mine,’" Mullens said. "Nobody is saying ‘I got to shoot more.’ There are some little guards on this team who steal some of my rebounds, I’m not liking that – and some other guys who mess up my assists, but that’s cool."