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Cleveland Cavaliers fantasy basketball season recap

Luka MVP market doesn't reflect Finals 'mismatch'
Jay Croucher and Drew Dinsick both think the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks is a mismatch, which isn't reflected in Luka Doncic's Finals MVP betting market.

by Zak Hanshew, Rotoworld

Previous team recaps: DET, WAS, POR, CHA, SAS, TOR, MEM, UTA, BKN, ATL, CHI, HOU, SAC, GSW, MIA, PHI, ORL, LAL, IND

At a glance:

Record: 48-34 (4th, East)

Offensive Rating: 114.7 (16th)

Defensive Rating: 112.1 (7th)

Net Rating: 2.6 (11th)

Pace: 97.6 (24th)

2024 NBA Draft Picks: 20

The Cavs finished with a winning record for the third straight season, and they made the playoffs for the second straight. Cleveland finished with a 44-38 record as the 9 seed in 2021-22, 51-31 as the 4 seed in 2022-23 and 48-34 as the 4 seed again in 2023-24. Injuries to multiple key players contributed to a quick, second-round exit in the playoffs, and coach J.B. Bickerstaff was promptly fired.

Cleveland’s offense was middle-of-the-pack, and the defense was a top-10 unit once again. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley suffered injuries and were forced to miss extended time. Garland had one of the worst seasons of his career regarding raw stats and efficiency, but Mobley thrived when available. Jarrett Allen was a solid contributor, and Donovan Mitchell had the best fantasy season of his career.

With a new coach set to come in and looming free-agency questions for the summer of 2025, where do the Cavs go from here? How should fantasy managers approach this team in 2024-25 drafts? Let’s dive in!

Fantasy Standout: Donovan Mitchell

For the fourth straight season, Mitchell’s per-game fantasy value improved. He finished as a top-10 player for the first time in his career behind strong averages across the board. His scoring regressed from 28.3 points to 26.6, but he provided career bests in rebounds (5.1), assists (6.1), steals (1.8) and blocks (0.5) to go with 3.3 triples and solid shooting percentages.

He didn’t reach the heights of the 71-point game he posted in his first season with the Cavs, but he had six 40-point games and a 50-burger, putting his elite scoring skills on display. Mitchell also dropped 50 of his teams 96 points in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first-round series against Orlando.

Mitchell has one year left on his contract, and he has a player option for the 2025-26 season. He’ll likely test out free agency next summer if Cleveland doesn’t extend him, but he should be back with Cleveland for at least one more run in 2024-25. He was drafted as a mid-second-rounder in 2023-24 fantasy drafts, and that ADP feels appropriate heading into next season.

Fantasy Revelation: Evan Mobley

Mobley burst onto the scene in the 2021-22 season and delivered a top-85 per-game fantasy season. In Year 2, he finished 52nd, and in 2023-24, he finished inside the top-40 with his best fantasy campaign to date. Mobley was monstrous on a per-game basis, but he logged just 30.6 minutes across 50 games due to lingering injuries.

His scoring has remained consistent over his first three seasons, and he averaged 15.7 points in 2023-24. Mobley’s rebounds and assists increased for the second straight season, and the big man posted career highs in both categories. He also shot the ball at the most efficient clip of his career, knocking down 58.0% of his shots from the field and 71.9% from the charity stripe. He set a new career high in rebounds when he pulled down 19 against the Hawks on November 28.

Mobley’s production was similar in the playoffs, and his outlook is encouraging heading into the 2024-25 campaign. We haven’t seen his best basketball yet, and he can be a second-rounder or better if he takes another step forward in his fourth season and stays healthy.

Fantasy Disappointment: Darius Garland

Garland broke out in 2021-22 when he provided a top-40 fantasy season. His breakout was shortlived, however, as Donovan Mitchell arrived the following season. Garland’s production fell off negligibly in Mitchell’s first season with Cleveland, and the former finished 11 spots worse on a per-game basis. In 2023-24, Garland’s numbers hit the skids, and he finished outside the top 100.

From 2021-22 to 2023-24, Garland’s assists fell from 8.6 to 7.8 to 6.5, and his points fell from 21.7 to 21.6 to 18.0. His percentages took a major hit, too. Garland shot 44.6% from the floor, the second-worst mark of his career, behind only his rookie season. His 83.4% clip from the charity stripe was a career-worst, and 3.1 turnovers were his second-worst.

Injuries likely played a big part in Garland’s poor showing, as he appeared in only 57 games due to a number of injuries. He was drafted as a mid-third-rounder in 2023-24 fantasy hoops drafts, and his ADP will surely fall heading into next season. We shouldn’t expect him to shoot this poorly and turn the ball over so much again, and that will make him a value pick in 2024-25 drafts.

Fantasy Recaps/Look-Aheads

Jarrett Allen: Mr. Reliable finished as a top-40 player for the third straight season behind averages of 16.5 points (career-high), 10.5 rebounds (second-best mark of his career), 2.7 assists (career-high), 0.7 steals, 1.1 blocks and 63.4/74.2 shooting splits. Most importantly, Allen was available for 77 games, the second-most of his career.

He took a step forward as a scorer, taking on a heavier offensive load with Evan Mobley out of action for an extended period during the regular season. Allen poured in a career-high 33 points against Minnesota on March 8, and he did damage as a rebounder with three 20-rebound efforts. Allen was unfortunately unavailable for eight of the Cavs’ 12 playoff games due to a rib injury, but he’s expected to be fully healthy to start the 2024-25 campaign.

Max Strus: After a career-best season that included a productive Finals run with Miami in 2022-23, Strus landed a lucrative deal with Cleveland in the offseason. He hit the ground running and averaged 12.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks and 32.0 minutes (all career-bests) in his first season with the Cavs. Strus knocked down 2.4 triples and shot 41.8% from the floor and 79.4% from the charity stripe en route to the best fantasy finish of his career.

Strus had some big games and enjoyed stretches of the season as an early-rounder. He ultimately finished just outside the top 125, but managers who could stomach his poor percentages got a useful 12-team-league player. He’ll be worth a pick in the last rounds of fantasy drafts in 2024-25.

Caris LeVert: LeVert finished 145 in per-game fantasy hoops value, the second-best finish of his career. His scoring has been hit-or-miss throughout his career, but he’s always been able to chip in across the board, and that showed in 2023-24 with averages of 14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.6 triples. The efficiency was lacking as LeVert shot just 42.1% from the field and 76.6% from the charity stripe. He offered some strong performances when Darius Garland and/or Donovan Mitchell missed time, but he was still effective when they were available. LeVert is worth a look in deeper leagues in 2024-25, and he’ll have streaming appeal when those ahead of him on the depth chart miss time. He’s not a must-roster option in 12-team leagues.

Isaac Okoro: It’s been four seasons, Okoro has played a lot of games and been a regular starter, and it’s just not happening for fantasy hoops. He brings defensive energy and three-point shooting, but he’s not worth rostering in most fantasy leagues. In 2023-24, he averaged 9.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.2 triples while shooting 49.0% from the field and 67.9% from the charity stripe while logging 27.3 minutes per game. He’s a far better real-life option and can go undrafted in 2024-25 drafts.

Restricted Free Agents: Pete Nance, Isaiah Mobley, Emoni Bates, Isaac Okoro

Unrestricted Free Agents: Tristan Thompson, Marcus Morris Sr., Damian Jones