Cavs should follow the Lakers’ lead with their Russell Westbrook decision

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) /

Cavs’ LeVert is a poor fit with the other starters

The Cleveland Cavaliers have an incredibly-talented young foursome to form 80 percent of the starting lineup. Yet as talented as they are, pairing two defensive bigs and two offensive guards leaves the group with a few glaring needs. They need off-ball spacing and they need perimeter defense.

What they don’t need is a player who thrives with the ball in his hands, but that is Caris LeVert’s modus operandi. He’s not bad at it; he has a tight dribble, good passing skills and has a solid midrange jumper. The problem is that the Cavs have some elite options with the ball in their hands, and if both Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell are on the court, giving the ball to LeVert lowers their offensive ceiling.

There has been talk of letting LeVert handle the ball with Mitchell and Garland playing off of him, and their shooting and basketball intelligence can help make that workable. That’s not a way to optimize their offense, however; it’s a way to make a fit work in order to find gains in other areas. The Cavs will likely try this as Evan Mobley grows as an offensive force, letting him handle from the elbow with movement around. You make that sort of tradeoff because of Mobley’s elite defense. LeVert brings no such benefits to the table.

LeVert has said all of the right things about working on his defense and shooting, but his track record suggests he will be average at best for his position in both areas. LeVert’s strengths are duplicative and not needed with the starting group, and his weaknesses only exacerbate issues with the group. While he can certainly improve as a player, he’s starting far enough back that it seems like a stretch.