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Kendrick Perkins of ESPN was on the television Monday bellowing as usual, and the topic he was hitting on was getting zero positive feedback.

He loves the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he seems to be a man on an island at that network because he was the only person who did not want to talk Lakers, Nets, Celtics or Warriors.

So it goes with ESPN’s preseason coverage, which focuses on the most dysfunctional franchises and the myriad number of problems they are facing.

Cleveland Cavs Roster 2022-2023 NBA Season

The Cavs have a problem, too: They have a roster that is short of one big man who was a huge contributor last season, but they have jettisoned that player, Lauri Markkanen, as part of the trade that general manager Koby Altman made to bring All-Star Donovan Mitchell aboard from Utah.

This may have been the most momentous deal off the offseason (apologies to Malcolm Brogdon and the Celtics) because the Cavs were the proverbial team that was one player away from being one season away. Well, that player is in Cleveland now, and the scoring punch that he will bring to that backcourt playing alongside Darius Garland is going to result in a monumental improvement over what they were getting from Collin Sexton.

Add in the fact that Evan Mobley was a serious contender for Rookie of the Year last season and was at his best playing alongside shot-blocker extraordinaire Jarrett Allen before Allen got hurt, and the Cavs now have a combination of size and speed that is going to make them a team to be reckoned with because of the matchup problems they are going to present to opponents. Last season, they were playing three seven-footers alongside each other, and nobody could match up (Minnesota seems to be following that model for the upcoming season with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert teaming up).

But Cleveland is adding a player who averaged 25.9 points last season for a Utah team loaded with offensive options, and those types of guys do not simply fall off of trees, which is why Altman surrendered Markkanen, Sexton and Ochai Agbaji along with three unprotected first-round draft picks and two pick swaps in order to outbid the Knicks.

So the Cavs should be starting Garland, Mitchell, Mobley, Allen and either Caris LaVert or Isaac Okoro, with Kevin Love, Cedi Osman and Raul Neto and Robin Lopez the key contributors coming off the bench. Building chemistry among those players will be job No. 1 in training camp for head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who is on Betway’s Coach of the Year board at +1400, a number that will shrink if the Cavs come out of the gate with a head of steam.

Cleveland Cavaliers Odds, Picks & Predictions 2022-2023 NBA season

When folks talk about the top teams in the East, the conversation is generally inclusive of four teams: Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Everyone else gets squeezed out for a variety of reasons, and a big part of that is the dysfunction a couple of those teams are experiencing, and their various recent track records.

And when there are 30 teams to discuss, almost all of whom have high hopes this preseason (the Jazz are excluded), the conversation sometimes skips teams that play in smaller markets. And in recent decades, people only wanted to talk about the Cavs when LeBron James played there.

Cavs odds to win East & Championship

So while we can debate the merits of whether this team is championship-worthy (they are +3000), a better bet might be the Cavs winning the East, which is an enticing wager at odds of +1500.

Folks in Ohio who spent their evenings last season transfixed by this team (until Allen went down with a broken finger) know what we are talking about here, and the advice we can give to Ohioans is to let the big networks ignore the Cavs at their own peril, and try to take profits along the way.

A dirty little secret in the sports gambling industry is that the folks who set the game lines spent an inordinate amount of time trying to peg the games and teams that will draw the most action, and Cleveland is not in that group by any stretch of the imagination. So use that to your advantage, especially early in the season when the Cavs open with eighth straight games against East opponents, only two of which (a pair against the Celtics) are games in which they figure to be legitimate underdogs.

4 NBA Futures bets for 2022-2023 Season

NBA MVP Odds, Pick & Predictions

Where else can you go wagering-wise with this team aside from Bickerstaff for Coach of the Year? Well, team success is a huge determining factor when it comes to MVP voting, and this has become a Giannis-Doncic-Jokic debate for far too long. Look, we at the home office happen to like LeBron James for this award because of his price (+1400) and the fact that he is the only player in human history who refuses to age, but a case can be made that Mitchell (priced at +8000) is the type of flyer wager you may want to jump on, especially after seeing what he brings in the first couple of exhibition games against the Sixers. He will become a featured scorer for the Cavs, whose height advantage will have them among the league leaders in second-chance points, many of which will come from Mitchell.

NBA Most Improved Player Odds, Pick & Predictions  

In the Most Improved category, keep an eye on Allen as he enters his seventh season. Allen is on the board at +6000 for Most Improved Player for 2022-2023 NBA season. He will be among the league leaders in blocks, and the key for him becoming a real factor in this race will be showing a marked improvement from the stats he put up last season (16.1 ppg and 10.8 rebounds) in the 56 games before he was injured and the Cavs’ hopes deteriorated.

NBA Defensive Player of the Year Odds, Pick & Predictions

Allen is on the board at +3000 for Defensive Player of the Year, and if all goes well for him he will be in the conversation for both NBA Most Improved Player & Defensive Player of the Year awards. When you have a player in those circumstances, he will differentiate himself in one category or the other as the season progresses, and the trick then will be remaining in the conversation. Hedging with both of those wagers may be a nice option.

Cavs Odds to Make the Playoffs

The Cavs are just +275 to win the Central Division, and them finishing with a better record than the Bucks seems iffy, especially at that price. They are -275 to make the playoffs, which shows the bookmakers know they are a good team.

But will they be a great team with Mitchell? That is not the worst wager in the history of wagers, and it is what we like to call betworthy.

This team will not stay off the radar forever, and one of the better bets that you can made with your buddies will be whether the NBA changes the TV schedule to get them on more national broadcasts. Currently, they are scheduled to appear on ESPN and TNT just five times, the first when they go into Los Angeles to play LeBron and the Lakers on Dec. 6.

If the Cavs can be in peak form in early January when they have a monster six-game road trip to Denver, Phoenix, Utah, Portland and Minnesota, we will see a bunch more of them on national television in February and March.

And rest assured that their odds then will not be as high as they are now, so what we counsel doing is betting on them now while the prices are high. Then sit back and take solace in the fact that you were high on this team when everyone at ESPN (with the exception of Perkins) seemed to forget that they even existed.

They may not be NBA Finals-worthy, but folks were saying the same thing about the Suns two seasons ago and the Heat in the prior year, and we all remember how that played out. This is a very dangerous Cavs team if they stay healthy and make one more roster tweak around the trade deadline to bring in an extra 3-point shooter. Those guys tend to become available, and not always via trades. It can come from a G-League callup, a Euroleague buyout or a guy whose contract in the Chinese Basketball Association has favorable out language in it. As we approach the preseason, channel Perkins (who spent a season with the Cavs in 2015) and count on the fact that his bluster was finally on the money this particular September.