The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t yet have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are still relatively early in this core’s life cycle, with Darius Garland just entering his fifth season and Evan Mobley his third. In contrast to older teams or those with 2024 free-agent stars, the Cavs have at least a modicum of breathing spacing.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t members of the Cavaliers organization with something to prove this season. Time moves fast in the NBA, and the Cavs will make moves at the Trade Deadline and next summer that could see it trade key players or make other significant moves in pursuit of a title.
With that in mind, who are the five Cavaliers with the most to prove this season?
Most to Prove No. 5: Max Strus
Max Strus may have just signed a lucrative new contract to join the Cavaliers this summer, but that doesn’t mean his future is secure. Since the moment the ink was dry on the deal many have decried the four-year, $62.3 million deal as an overpay. It’s easy to fall behind the 8-ball on a deal, and once you’re labeled an overpay there is a stigma attached.
More specifically in the context of the Cavaliers, Strus has to prove that he is the right answer to start at small forward. He needs to show his playoff intensity on defense can translate to the regular season, that his streaky shooting can normalize at above-average, and that he wasn’t simply a beneficiary of playing for the Miami Heat.
If by the end of the season, it’s Dean Wade or Caris LeVert starting at the 3 with Strus playing limited minutes off the bench, the Cavs will absolutely look at trade options using his salary. Strus has a shot to play well, establish himself as a part of this core, add more playoff moments to his ledger and earn even more money on the next deal. He also has a shot to spiral into the same “overpaid Heat shooter” basket as Duncan Robinson.