Since the Kevin Love trade has been officially announced, it is finally safe to talk about the full Cleveland Cavaliers starting lineup. With Love now in the mix, the Cavs are looking at a starting five of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, LeBron James, Love and Anderson Varejao. Last week ESPN projected the top 10 players for the 2014-15 season, and Irving and Waiters both ended up No. 5 at their respective positions. LeBron then finished ahead of Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, giving the Cavs the best projected starting lineup in the NBA.
To round off the Cavaliers lineup, Kevin Love was named the No. 2 power forward by ESPN and Bradford Doolittle. The list, which was topped off by Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, was put together according to WARP, or Wins Above Replacement Player. WARP looks at evaluating players by looking at a roster with them around it surrounded by four average players. This season it also looks more at the real plus-minus of that player as well, measuring a player’s efficiency on both ends of the floor.
With Davis clocking in with a WARP of 14.3, Kevin Love finished just below the former No. 1 overall pick with a WARP of 14.2 and a win percentage of 69 percent for the Cavs when he’s in the lineup. Here is what Doolittle had to say about Love’s projections this season:
Love’s 20.2 WARP ranked third in the league behind James and Kevin Durant in 2013-14. The new methodology used for ranking purposes generates WARP scores a bit lower at the top end of the scale, but even though it’s RPM-based that doesn’t mean Love is penalized by an inability to impact a team’s bottom line. His plus-6.4 RPM was elite, and he was positive on both ends of the floor. There are a lot of reasons Minnesota never made the playoffs with Love, but he was in no way one of those reasons.
There’s a great crop of power forwards following Love on this list, as the top five concludes with Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and Josh Smith. Rounding out the top 10 are LaMarcus Aldridge, Thaddeus Young, Serge Ibaka, Kenneth Faried and Amir Johnson