How the Cleveland Cavs Went from Fringe Pretenders to Title Contenders

How the Cleveland Cavs went from fringe pretenders to title contenders

How the Cleveland Cavs went from fringe pretenders to title contendersThis time last month, the San Antonio Spurs were busy putting the finishing touches on a dominant NBA Finals romp over LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

On the periphery, the Cleveland Cavaliers had just won the NBA Draft lottery for the second straight year. They were still irrelevant on the court but at least, it gave them another building block for the future.

Ah, yes…the future, or in this case, the present.

A lot has happened in the NBA in the past 30 days. The Spurs were crowned champions. The Cavaliers drafted Andrew Wiggins first overall in the NBA draft. And LeBron James?

He’s taking his talents home to Ohio.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that won just 33 games last year, now have Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and LeBron James.

In 30 days, the Cavs turned from a middling franchise with 60/1 odds to win the NBA title to the unquestioned title favorites at 3/1 odds. Granted, the defending champion Spurs will have something to say about that and their 4/1 odds to repeat is proof of its contender status.

But this isn’t about the Spurs, it’s about LeBron James and the Cavs. Rumors swirled before he announced his return to Cleveland to Sports Illustrated. The rumors spurred on bettors hoping to get the Cavs at big odds before he announced his return, it forced sportsbooks to drop their odds on the Cavs to slow the action.

When the news finally broke, the Cavaliers became the title favorites.

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat are no longer title contenders. Their odds have dropped to fringe playoff hopefuls and that’s even with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade coming back with a fortified cast that includes Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Napier and Luol Deng. It’s a nice lineup but without the NBA’s best player, it leaves the door wide open for other teams in the East.

The Heat were favorites to win next year’s championship. Sportsbooks had them at 7/2 odds as soon as the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Finals. Now? Miami’s somewhere between 20/1 to 25/1 odds to make an improbable run to the title.

Those odds are probably inflated at this point because the Heat’s roster isn’t even complete yet. More signings will be made before the season starts in November. Only then will we have a better idea on where the Heat stand relative to the rest of the Eastern Conference.

That’s a problem the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have anymore. They’re the favorites now because of one man.

His name is LeBron James. And yes, he’s back home.