It’s a new season and a new complexion for the Cavs as the preseason is about to start. Coach Tyronn Lue has hinted that Kevin Love will now be playing center, which will slide Jae Crowder over to the power forward spot and Tristan Thompson to the bench. With Derrick Rose expected to be the starting point guard while Isaiah Thomas is out and Dwyane Wade to play the 2 there are three new faces that will see the hit the court first in the season opener. Let’s take a look at how the team will operate to start the season.
Backcourt: Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade
While both may have exited their primes, make no mistake that Rose and Wade are formidable starters for an NBA team. Both finished last season averaging 18 points a game while grabbing about 4 rebounds and 4 assists each per game. Rose is a former MVP and Wade has appeared in 12 all-star games. The point here is that Rose and Wade have the talent to be difference makers. Perhaps the only knocks in Rose and Wade’s games would be their poor three-point shooting and a decrease in explosiveness from previous years, and the former is teachable and improvable especially on a Cavs offense run by LeBron. I’m really looking forward to seeing a dominant veteran presence and basketball IQ from this tandem. Wade is going to have flashbacks of playing with LeBron while Rose will finally remember what it is like to play for a winning team. I think this will boost both of their confidences and will improve their decision making and effort that are necessary to win big games. There should be a lot of expectations from Rose and Wade and I think they will have an answer.
Frontcourt: Kevin Love and Jae Crowder
This is going to be an intriguing setup. Ultimately Love should situate fine at center given that he spent much time playing there last season and will need to have an increased presence in the post this season. But two questions arise here: will this frontcourt be undersized and can they hold their own defensively? I think both questions can be answered positively for the Cavs. The NBA, in its shift to the three-point offense, has made small-ball a commonality, so a 6’6” forward and a 6’10” big really shouldn’t play a long-lasting negative factor in the offense in terms of size. Meanwhile, Crowder is one of the best all-around defenders in the league and brings a sense of energy to the starting lineup that the Cavs lacked last year. This in turn should provide Kevin Love with an urgency to play defense especially when Crowder can replace the offense lost from Tristan Thompson behind the arc. Crowder’s ability to drill threes is critical for the success of this offense, but not to the point where we struggle incredibly if he isn’t putting up those shots. This frontcourt allows the Cavs to become a team that does not live or die by the three, but rather become a defense-orientated, high-post duo that can elevate a team with perhaps one or two triples a night each.
Everywhere: LeBron James
LeBron doesn’t have a frontcourt/backcourt distinction, he is the distinction. LeBron will be a PF one play and then handle the ball on the next. LeBron can make up for either side if it is struggling, and sometimes even perform better in that role than the original starter. The Cavs know and will take advantage of the fact that LeBron can change the face of a lineup by just playing basketball. LeBron’s court vision is superior, he is physically a monster on the court, and he can finish arguably better than anyone. Therefore, I don’t think LeBron is any more of a guard than he is a forward or even a center. But LeBron is undeniably the centerpiece of this starting lineup and without him I think the entire play style and tempo would have to be tweaked for the Cavs to be competitive.