Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
The Cleveland Cavaliers went to great lengths this summer to sign Max Strus. Rather than court him using the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, they increased their bid by working out a three-team sign-and-trade and brought Strus in with a four-year contract.
The assumption is that they did so to start Strus at small forward, and he is probably the clubhouse leader simply based on the investment. The Cavaliers went out this summer to add shooting, and it would make sense if they injected that shooting right into the starting lineup.
Strus has experience starting for a playoff team, logging 33 starts for the Miami Heat last year and then starting all 23 games in the playoffs en route to the NBA Finals. Despite standing just 6’5″ he has played the majority of his minutes at small forward the past two seasons, with his strength helping him to take on larger defensive assignments.
The movement shooting he provides will stretch defenses in a way that Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert did not last season, forcing opponents to track him all around the court. He and Darius Garland can work off of each other as the Warriors have often used Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The other side of the coin, however, is that starting Strus at small forward makes the Cavs quite small; in addition to being 6’5″ he has just a 6’7″ wingspan. He also is a threatening shooter but not a particularly accurate one, which could dilute his impact in the toughest of situations. Still, Strus starting is the most likely outcome.