Cavs: Why starting Lauri Markkanen at the 3 is the right call

Lauri Markkanen, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Lauri Markkanen, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

It appeared to be somewhat of a suprise initially when the Cleveland Cavaliers started Lauri Markkanen at the small forward spot on Opening Night at the Memphis Grizzlies.

While this is a move that perplexed some, it is the right call to make. Starting Markkanen at the small forward position could work extremely well against a team like the Grizzlies. Although it is still unknown if Markkanen will remain in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season, this was the right move to make.

Granted, for reference, this is a lineup that should only be used against particular teams. If the Cavs are facing off against a team that plays a small ball lineup, Markkanen is not athletic enough to keep up with that. However, on a more traditional team like the Grizzlies, this starting five makes perfect sense, and likely will on most occasions, really.

There are two major reasons as to why this was the right call to make, by and large.

#1: Markkanen improves the Cavs three-point shooting and size in their starting lineup

The first reason why Markkanen in the starting lineup is a good thing is the three-point shooting and size he provides.

With Markkanen starting at the three, the Cavs will not run into a team bigger than them this season. Along with this, his size at the small forward position will do wonders in clogging passing and driving lanes.

His biggest value to the starting lineup is his three-point shooting. Despite his size, Markkanen does not particularly need to be in the post to be successful, and that’s frankly not his game. He shot 54 percent on corner threes last season and is a gifted movement shooter.

While he does not need to simply be a player that remains in the corner on offense the entire game, he will thrive in that position on the possessions that he does spot up.

The threat of Markkanen from the corner will do great things in clearing up driving lanes for Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. And with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, both being in the starting lineup, having a great shooter like Markkanen in that starting lineup too will keep the paint from being clogged.

#2: This gives Isaac Okoro more room to grow

The second reason why Markkanen in the starting lineup is a good thing is it gives Isaac Okoro more of an opportunity to develop his game.

It is likely that Okoro will be one of if not the first player coming off of the bench game-to-game. Giving him reigns with the second unit will allow the offense to run through him more and give him more experience than being in the starting lineup this season ever will.

If things go well for Okoro off of the bench, he very well may work his way into the starting lineup once again at some point. However, as we saw last season, while his potential is sky-high he is still very unpolished and his shooting has a ways to go.

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But giving him the reigns of the second unit will give him the opportunity he needs to improve and polish his game until he is ready to start.