Should Caris LeVert or Max Strus start at small forward for Cavs?

Max Strus, Miami Heat. Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images
Max Strus, Miami Heat. Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Max Strus, Miami Heat. (Photo by Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) /

Cons for Strus to start

Let’s get the elephant out of the room. Max Strus really isn’t the perimeter defender that the Cavaliers would like from their starting small forward. He averaged 0.5 steals per game in 28.4 minutes per night last season, and there are reasonable concerns about how he was playing in zone a decent amount with Miami, and in playing in Erik Spoelstra’s system.

Also, Strus was inconsistent, to some degree in the 2022-23 season. He shot 35.0 percent from deep last season, which was a 6.0 percent drop-off from the 2021-22 season. He also only averaged 9.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in the playoffs this year. He shot 40.2 percent from the field and 31.9 percent from distance, percentages that aren’t that impressive to say the least. Now, his NBA Finals performance weighed his splits down, but there were still some ups and downs for him throughout the 2022-23 campaign, which were somewhat concerning as a shooter.

More generally, though, Strus is also not really that good at drawing fouls, as he only shot 1.1 free throws per game last year. He isn’t that good of a finisher inside, and one of his only key strengths in his game is shooting the basketball from the perimeter.

Max Strus is only 6-foot-5 as well, so against certain matchups and in the playoffs, that could be an issue that proves to be too detrimental for Cleveland to overcome.