Cleveland Cavaliers: Assembling their all-time starting five

LeBron James, then of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reacts after a made basket in-game. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LeBron James, then of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reacts after a made basket in-game. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Forward Larry Nance, then of the Cleveland Cavaliers, looks to pass. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

The all-time Cavs starting PF: Larry Nance

This was another really tough choice for me on this one, for my all-time Cleveland Cavaliers starting power forward. Eventually, I went with a Cavs legend in Larry Nance.

Nance was acquired via trade with the Phoenix Suns which at the time involved Nance, Mike Sanders, and a 1988 first-round pick from the Suns going to Cleveland from a deal with the Detroit Pistons then reportedly for William Bedford, in exchange for a pick swap then, and the Cavs also sent their second-rounders in 1988 and 1989. Also in that deal, was notably, Kevin Johnson, Tyrone Corbin and Mark West, as was h/t the New York Times‘ Sam Goldaper.

Anyhow, the key decision here came down to Nance and Kevin Love, who is still with the Cavs now, and is a teammate of Larry Nance Jr., who is a really solid all-around big, but is not the same level of player his father was for the Cavs.

Related Story. Revisiting Larry Nance Jr.'s three best games of 2019-20 thus far. light

Nance, who was actually the first winner of the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest in 1986, was a high-flyer, just like his son is, but even while Jr. has improved his J, the thing that is the most enticing with Sr. was his sweet mid-range J, especially when along the baseline.

That was cash, and had Nance played later on, I definitely believe he’d have developed a three-point shot, too, as that mid-range J was butter, and he shot 75.5 percent from the free throw line for his career.

While I’m not sure if Nance would’ve developed into the floor spacer Love, who has a career three-point shooting clip of 37.0 percent, is, Nance, much like John “Hot Rod” Williams and Daugherty, was more than capable of knocking down those aforementioned mid-range shots.

He could also hit turnarounds, rise up to shoot over defenders in the low post, he had a nice runner, and even with him being slender, could of course, finish with authority as a real high-flyer that would be I believe just as dangerous as Love was in his years playing with James with Nance being a constant threat above the rim and being quick.

In his tenure with Cleveland, Nance (a three-time All-Star in his career, including two times with Cleveland) had 16.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.5 blocks and 0.8 steals per game, according to Basketball Reference.

Anyway, the difference to me here is I’d take Nance’s defensive activity over Love’s inside-out scoring/elite defensive rebounding and feasibly, better passing feel in a tight decision.

Nance was a good passer, too, but again, his ability to protect the rim, use his length as a 6-foot-10 big to get in passing lanes as a helper, and him still clearing the glass well causes me to go with Nance over Love for the 4 for the all-time Cavs starting unit.

I’d imagine Nance (a three-time All-Defensive team member), similarly to Jr., could switch out on to perimeter players in pick-and-roll coverage pretty competently in today’s league, and drop effectively, too.