Cleveland Cavaliers without LeBron: 5 Years Later

October 13, 2023

Andy Billman

5 Years Later the Cavs Are One of Top Teams in NBA

It has been five years now without LeBron.  Five years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers said goodbye to LeBron as he left for Los Angeles.  It feels a lot longer than that and that is because of the success of the Cavs. 

The second time around with LeBron leaving has been less dramatic for apparent reasons.  In the four-year gap when LeBron left for the first time for Miami, Cleveland’s highest win total was 33. Last season, the Cavs won 51 games, earning the fourth seed in the east. Yes, the Cavaliers are not perfect and are still young, but this core is thriving and on an upward trend.

As Tristan Thompson said last week, he has been impressed with how successful this rebuild has gone compared to when he was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2011, a club that could barely stay competitive night in and night out.  There was no hope for Cleveland basketball in those years when LeBron was in Miami, and what became the theme was the frustration of LeBron leaving instead of the play on the floor.  Everything was about LeBron not being here; it is amazing how the times have changed with this current club.

This club is young, talented, and has an identity beyond LeBron.  That is a considerable accomplishment. Just ask Thompson.  This team is focused on making the playoffs again, led by superstar Donovan Mitchell and his talented backcourt mate Darius Garland.  And then there’s Evan Mobley, who might have the most talent on the club currently and is still developing.  The sky is the limit for this young club.

The Lakers play the Cavaliers on Saturday, November 25th, and yes, it will be spotlighted with LeBron coming back to Ohio, but it will not be the stress of needing to win that single game as the Cavaliers have grown beyond that storyline.  The Laker game has become more of a feel-good rather than tension, which shows the Cleveland Cavalier organization’s growth and winning mindset.  It’s not about LeBron anymore; it’s about the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

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