Projecting the Cavaliers bench unit after new free agency additions

Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images /

A closer look at the Cavs bench’s offense and defense

On the offensive side of the ball, fans can expect Georges Niang and Caris LeVert to be showing up on a nightly basis. As we had mentioned earlier, Niang’s shooting percentage was 40.1 percent from three. Having played in 78 games last year, that’s notable for a player who most likely play at the 4. Niang’s accuracy gives the Cavs a new weapon to use against opposing defenses. His consistency as a knockdown shooter is definitely something the Cavs have been missing since Kevin Love’s buyout.

Caris LeVert is another player that can be expected to perform on the offense. With an average of 12.1 points per game this past season, LeVert overall splits were down, but he became more comfortable as the year wore on, especially when he was mostly coming off the bench.

The introduction of Donovan Mitchell to the team last year ultimately led to Caris taking his new role on the bench, however, despite his early struggles and mid-range inconsistencies, he actually shot a career-high 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. Now, the Cavs are not counting on LeVert to go out and put up more steady numbers on a constant basis. But fans have seen what Caris can do, and his role on the team has the potential to flourish next year as a sixth man.

Caris LeVert and Ty Jerome had 3.9 assists and 3.0 assists per game respectively last year. With both of them off the bench, the Cavs also can ensure they have some steady facilitators to manage the ball. Ty Jerome also brings some much needed size to the Cavs’ guard rotation, too.

Additionally, Jerome can also provide some of that long distance shooting Cleveland has been so keen on finding this offseason, at least in some catch-and-shoot chances. Considering the deal the Cavs brought Jerome in on – his addition to the bench is a cost effective enhancement for the team. Looking at the framework of this second unit, it appears that their strengths lean more toward the offense, but that does not mean they’ll be slouching on the other side of the ball.

Cleveland took pride last year in being one of the best defensive teams, mainly due to the frontcourt pairing of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the starting lineup. One issue the Cavs appeared to face in the playoffs was with rebounding. Cleveland needs some players off the bench that can rebound. Wade and to some degree Niang could aid Cleveland in that department for stretches, and whether or not they’re on the floor together, both could be intriguing options to next Mobley or Allen.

Defensively speaking, this year is pivotal for Okoro. Cleveland drafted him in 2020 due in part to his defensive prowess. It really is no secret that Okoro has not been performing up to the expectations that were set for him. Although, if the Cavs can create a bench unit where LeVert, Niang, and Jerome are the main scorers, or one of Garland or Mitchell are the lead playmaker, this could lead to a resurgence in Okoro as a defensive minded threat against opposing teams.

Okoro’s ability to switch on targets and pressure the offense was one of his key attributes coming into the NBA. He’s demonstrated those capabilities often, and with less pressure on offense with these new additions, Okoro could thrive.

Overall, the Cavs seem to be taking this offseason seriously. The competitive window in the NBA is always fluctuating, and while it is sad to see some fan favorites in Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens go, these new additions to the roster show us the Cavs are dedicated to improving the team in aspects they fell short in last year.

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We will have to see how the coaching staff builds out the roster for the upcoming season, but if they were to play a bench mob consisting of the likes of Ty Jerome, Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, and Georges Niang, with a few starters mixed in at times (one would assume), that would be well-balanced.