2 dark horse candidates to eventually break into Cavs’ starting lineup

Caris LeVert and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Caris LeVert and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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After a successful offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers are entering the 2023-24 NBA season with improved depth and 3-point shooting. These factors will play a significant role in building around Cleveland’s developing trio of Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Donovan Mitchell.

The latest additions to the Cavs in Max Strus, Georges Niang, Damian Jones, and Ty Jerome all are seemingly ideal fits next to each of Cleveland’s core players. Additionally, re-signing Caris LeVert improves their depth even further.

At the beginning of the 2022-23 season, LeVert started at small forward, but due to injuries and overall fit LeVert moved to the sixth-man role as Isaac Okoro entered the starting lineup. Dean Wade also played the starting role in a total of 13 contests, as well.

In total, the Cavs instituted 22 starting lineups throughout the regular season, per Basketball Reference. With a slew of new players, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff will likely experiment with the best fit upon the opening tip.

Who could end up starting for the Cavaliers?

Currently, the most probable Cavaliers starting five will be Garland and Mitchell in the backcourt, the frontcourt duo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, and Max Strus filling the three spot.

Off the bench, LeVert and Isaac Okoro will head the second unit with Niang serving as backup stretch big.

In the starting five, Strus’ long-range ability is greater than that of Okoro’s last year, filling Cleveland’s desperate need for floor spacing that was exploited heavily in the playoffs.

Finding the ideal starting group will be a process, whether due to injuries or system fit on the team. This might be the best problem to have, as the Cavaliers could trust the majority of their roster with substantial responsibility. The best players will earn the spot, though Cleveland’s core three is almost definitely in the starting unit in any games for which they are available.

These two players might end up fitting Cleveland’s needs best, earning a starting role by Game 82.