Earlier this week Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio flirted with the idea of the Cavaliers going with a starting five consisting of some of their youngest players. His lineup read like this:
PG – Kyrie Irving (2nd year)
SG – Dion Waiters (1st year)
SF – Alonzo Gee (4th year)
PF – Tristan Thompson (2nd year)
C – Tyler Zeller (1st year)
So this lineup would have an average NBA experience of just one year, but also remember that Gee only has one season under his belt in which he has played in over 40 games. He then named power forward Anderson Varejao, small forward/guard C.J. Miles and shooting guard Daniel Gibson as the first reserves to come off the bench.
Although I love the thought of having a starting five that is so young and able to play at an NBA-ready level, Gee (in my opinion) could be a more valuable asset off the bench and Thompson is still not ready defensively to be a starter.
In regards to Gee, he is a borderline starter who still has a ways to go in developing his outside offensive game. Watching how Gee played last year, he has starter potential. I think the best roster scenario for the Cavs right now would be to have Gee come off the bench. He is better at the three than Miles, but would provide the brightest spark when the starters come off the floor due to an otherwise lackluster bench.
Reading Amico’s opinion of how the youngsters could formulate a starting five of their own, it got me thinking who I have as my starters right now. It’s early to give predictions because some players didn’t attend Summer League or we just didn’t get a good enough look at them, but I think it’s fun to at least give it a thought.
So without further adieu, here is who would be my starters, where they would fit in the lineup and an explanation why I chose them as a starter (I’ll also add a few bench players like Amico did):
PG – Kyrie Irving
2011-12 statistics (with Cavaliers): 51 games (51 starts), 30.5 minutes, 18.5 points, 5.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, 46.9 field goal percentage, 39.9 three-point percentage, 87.2 free throw percentage
The ceiling for the reigning Rookie of the Year seems limitless at this point. Despite injuring his right shoulder last season and a minor setback at the beginning of Summer League practice, Irving has made himself look like an NBA veteran since joining the Cavaliers. He made good of his opportunity in playing as a member of the USA Select Team, opening eyes as he spun his way to the rim daily against Team USA players. He has showed that he is ready to become one of the premier floor generals in the Association, and it all started with a great rookie campaign.
SG – Dion Waiters
2011-12 statistics (with Syracuse): 37 games, 24.1 minutes, 12.6 points, 2.5 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, 47.6 field goal percentage, 36.3 three-point percentage, 72.9 free throw percentage
Despite a disappointing showing in Summer League play, Waiters seems to be back on track as far as getting back into shape goes. Head coach Byron Scott is saying that after practicing with some members of the Cavs and other NBA players last week at the Los Angeles Clippers’ practice facility, he is showing great strides in his conditioning. If you think it’s silly that a player who didn’t start a single game in his two years at Syracuse will be a starter right away for an NBA team, then just look at the Cavaliers’ roster. Daniel Gibson isn’t what you call starter material, and getting the Irving-Waiters backcourt relationship started right away will be what’s best for the team. Remember, they did use their No. 4 pick on him.
SF – C.J. Miles
2011-12 statistics (with Utah Jazz): 56 games (14 starts), 20.4 minutes, 9.1 points, 1.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, 38.1 field goal percentage, 30.7 three-point percentage, 79.4 free throw percentage
If you haven’t listened to C.J. Miles’ radio interview with ESPN Cleveland’s Kenny Roda, then here it is. Miles is very excited to be suiting up in Wine and Gold this season and has made it clear that he wants a starting position no matter if it’s at shooting guard or small forward. Miles hasn’t been a prolific shooter or avid defenseman throughout his seven-year NBA career, but his perimeter shooting could really help compliment Irving to start the game. Gee (although not signed yet) is a player who is on the rise and fought hard with Omri Casspi for that starting three position last season, but I think he is better suited coming off the bench. He should get more minutes than Miles, but having him come into the game late in the first quarter/early in the second quarter is the best fit for the Cavs.
PF – Anderson Varejao
2011-12 statistics (with Cavaliers): 25 games (25 starts), 31.4 minutes, 10.8 points, 1.7 assists, 11.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks, 51.4 field goal percentage, 67.2 free throw percentage
Andy was on pace to have the best statistical season of his NBA career before he missed the rest of the season with a wrist injury. Now, after a strong showing in the Olympic games with Team Brazil, he is ready to carry the success he had last season and in London into this season. The Cavaliers, who may have snuck into the playoffs as an eighth seed if Varejao stayed healthy, badly missed Wild Thing’s defensive presence throughout the last 41 games. He was a big reason why the Cavs sat near the top in the league in the rebounding category. Varejao is a much better pick than Thompson as a starting four mainly because Thompson has not yet developed into the hard-nosed defender that they hoped they would get when they drafted him with their fourth pick.
C – Tyler Zeller
2011-12 statistics (with North Carolina): 38 games, 28.2 minutes, 16.3 points, 0.9 assists, 9.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 1.5 blocks, 55.3 field goal percentage, 80.8 free throw percentage
Zeller is one of the most athletic big men to come into the NBA in awhile. He hustles down the court and can shoot from outside, but yet he was overlooked in the draft this year as he fell to the Dallas Mavericks at pick No. 17. He was the third center selected in the draft (behind Andre Drummond and Meyers Leonard), but I believe he was the best big man in the 2012 draft class. In a league where the center position is changing into a third forward, the Cavaliers will be at a huge advantage with Zeller in the starting lineup. A positional advantage is something that the Cavaliers need to get a quick lead building early on in the game.
Bench – Tristan Thompson (PF), Alonzo Gee (SF) and Samardo Samuels (PF)