The Cavaliers began their training camp on Monday in Independence, Ohio with the full roster available to practice. Key players like Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao were ready to practice full go. Now the question is whether they can stay healthy for at least the majority of the 82-game season. That being considered, here are five other questions I have going into training camp.
1. What kind of impact will Dion Waiters have?
Dion Waiters, the No. 4 overall pick, has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. In a draft where the Cavaliers passed on Harrison Barnes and Thomas Robinson, Waiters has to prove himself as the correct pick for the Cavaliers future. He needs to show that he can start in the NBA, show that he is in shape, and most importantly, show that he fits in with Kyrie Irving. All reports indicate that Waiters came into camp about 10 pounds lighter and in shape. That’s key for a guy who, even back in the summer league, looked overweight. So let’s see how he looks throughout camp and see what his rookie season is like. The first twenty games or so will be very telling of what we can expect.
2. Who starts at shooting guard and small forward?
Right now, if I had to guess, I’d pencil in Dion Waiters and Alonzo Gee as starters with C.J. Miles being the back up at both positions. Waiters will be the shooting guard and Gee will be the small forward. That lineup is one that does not come without questions. Waiters hasn’t started a game since high school, and Gee isn’t (at least in terms of size) a prototypical small forward. Plus, neither guy is great defensively, and that could put a lot of pressure on the Cavaliers front court. This, as it was last season, will be a hard position to watch for Cavs fans. But will they improve? – that is the question.
3. When will/Will the Cavs make a major trade?
This is a question that I don’t expect to be answered for a while, but it’s a topic that should linger over the Cavaliers all season. The Cavs have tradable assets that contending teams could want. Players like Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson would provide rebounding and shooting, respectively, to teams that could acquire either of these guys at a relatively low cost. It may come down to what the Cavs get in return, especially for Varejao. If the Cavs get offered two second round draft picks for Varejao, they absolutely should say no. But if they get a first round pick and/or an intriguing prospect? That’s where things could get interesting.
4. Who will start in the front court?
Like the question about the trade, this is a question that should play out over the course of the season. Early on, I expect it to be Tristan Thompson at power forward and Anderson Varejao at center. However, somewhere around the midway point of the season, things could change. Tyler Zeller, depending on how he plays, could emerge as the starting center by the All-Star Break. If that happens, it could be either Thompson or Varejao starting at power forward. Personally, I expect Varejao to go back to being that instant energy off the bench at some point, and cede his starting role to the young lions. But we will see, and don’t expect this question to be answered for a while.
5. Who will be Kyrie Irving’s backup?
This question is one that doesn’t have a good answer. Behind Kyrie, the point guards on the roster are Daniel Gibson, Donald Sloan, Justin Holiday, Kevin Anderson and Jeremy Pargo. Gibson is more of an undersized two-guard, Sloan just isn’t that good, and Pargo probably won’t be on the roster. Granted, I expect Irving to play 37-40 minutes a game, so back-up point guard shouldn’t be a big deal most nights. But if Irving gets in foul trouble, who takes over his minutes? Or even more worrisome, who takes over the starting spot? I don’t see an answer currently on the roster, so maybe they are still planning on adding a veteran. But right now, Kyrie’s back-up situation is largely up in the air and should be a large concern for General Manager Chris Grant.