[This is a regular feature called "The State of the Cavaliers." In it, we'll rank each player on the roster, based on recent on- and off-the-court production, news, and intangibles related to the Cavs' quest for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.]
LeBron James bounced back from the flu, which . . . like everything bad that happens to LeBron . . . initially sent a panic through the hearts of Cavs fans.
The progression went something like this: He's sick-sick! He's "throw up"-sick! He has Swine Flu!
But after last Friday's game, he appears to be back in form . . . and he also caps our very first State of the Cavaliers rundown. Here's the complete list:
#1.) LeBron James.
It's tempting to give someone else a shot at #1 since LeBron has only played in four of the six preseason games, but you can't ignore how superhuman James is. On Friday night, he proved he was over the flu by scoring 22 points and grabbing six rebounds in just 19 minutes. He's averaging a team-high 15.0 points.
#2.) J.J. Hickson.
J.J. has also missed a few preseason games . . . but really, who hasn't? J.J. has been one of the best surprises in camp so far. He's played four games, and been pretty impressive in all of them. He's averaging 12.8 points a game on (a team-best) 61% shooting. He's also averaging 4.3 rebounds a game.
#3.) Jamario Moon.
Not sure why Jamario had to have his wisdom teeth out in the middle of his first training camp with the Cavs . . . but regardless, he's exceeded expectations in the four games he has played in. He's averaging 11.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, and he's somehow nailing 60% of his 3-pointers.
#4.) Anthony Parker.
AP is one of the three players on the Cavs 20-man preseason roster (and the only starter) to play in all six preseason games. He has yet to have a real "breakthrough" moment so far, but he's been both solid and consistent . . . and that's what we're going to need from him, considering the uncertainty surrounding Delonte West. He's shooting at a 53% clip.
#5.) Shaquille O'Neal.
Shaq isn't operating at full speed yet. And that's fine, it's preseason . . . his 18th preseason. But he is working hard to fit in with the team, on the court and off. That's not to say he isn't playing well. He's in pretty good shape, and is averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. Hard to argue with that.
#6.) Daniel Gibson.
Boobie was actually having a pretty great preseason before going down with a bruised tailbone in last Wednesday's game against Washington. Sure, he's still not lighting anything on fire with his point-guard play, but he's been OK . . . and has also averaged 10.8 points and 3.3 assists per game. He's shooting 43% from beyond the arc.
#7.) Jawad Williams.
If there was any doubt about giving Jawad one of the two opening roster spots . . . it may have evaporated last Wednesday, with his 21-point explosion (on 6-of-12 shooting). Overall, though, he's been pretty inconsistent. In fact, he's shooting a touch under 30% over the first six games.
#8.) Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Z's adjustment to coming off the bench will take a little time, especially since the second unit will feature several players new to the Cavaliers system. So it's not surprising that Z has gotten off to a slow start this preseason. However, he did put together a decent game filling in for Shaq this past Saturday night. He had 12 points (on 5-of-9 shooting).
#9.) Anderson Varejao.
Andy missed 3 1/2 games, with a different doctors note for each one. He missed one with back spasms, one-and-a-half with a wrist contusion, and one with the flu. It'd be nice to see Shaq and Andy work on building some chemistry with each other in at least one of the last two preseason games.
#10.) Mo Williams.
When Mo has played, he's been very good . . . averaging 11 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.3 rebounds . . . but he's only been in three games. And groin injuries, like the one Mo's been struggling with all month, can linger.
#11.) Darnell Jackson.
Darnell hasn't really made a mark for himself this preseason. He started both games over the weekend. On Saturday, he scored 10 points (on 4-of-11 shooting) and eight rebounds . . . but the night before, in San Antonio, he played 23 minutes of uneventful basketball.
#12.) Leon Powe.
Yeah, Leon hasn't played a second of basketball this preseason . . . and probably won't until after the All-Star Break, but he seems to be ahead of schedule in his recovery. And that's exciting news. You can read Brian Windhorst's comments on his status here.
#13.) Andre Barrett.
At this point, it's still unclear whether Andre will make the 15-man roster heading into the season . . . but with Mo's groin and Delonte's issues, the Cavs are probably leaning toward using their last roster spot on a point guard, meaning Andre's in. In four games, he's averaging 5.8 points and 4.3 assists.
#14.) Danny Green.
Danny only played in one game before going down with a "glute contusion." There's no word on when he might be back on the court.
#15.) Delonte West.
Delonte's back with the team. At least we have that going for us.