PG: Ty Jerome
SG: Max Strus
SF: Georges Niang
PF: Evan Mobley
C: Jarrett Allen
For our last experimental unit, let’s focus on something the Cavs have been dominant at the last few seasons – defense. Last year Cleveland ranked first overall for team defense across the entire NBA, with a defensive rating of 109.9. That was due in large part to the formidable frontcourt pairing of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. When constructing a unit built on defense, Mobley and Allen are the first two guys you build around. The rest of this lineup features all newly acquired faces – from the previously discussed Max Strus and Georges Niang to new backup point guard, Ty Jerome. Height and length are the keys behind this unit.
Starting off with the obvious – Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. While this duo may have fallen short in the playoffs against the Knicks, there is still a lot of potential left for them. Jarrett Allen ended up ranking 10th overall among all centers for rebounds last season, while Mobley ranked 7th overall for power forwards. Evan also put up a highly impressive 1.5 blocks per game in this previous year, putting him 3rd overall for power forwards, and 10th overall across all players. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen make life easier for just about everyone on their team when it comes to defense. However, with this lineup – the frontcourt duo can also rely on the others’ spacing and switching to create some versatile schemes on defense.
Next up is Ty Jerome. J.B. Bickerstaff could not speak highly enough about the young guard during Media Day and practices. Bickerstaff said that Ty had been so good in training camp, that it was nearly impossible to get him off the court. Coach went on to say “He’s played a way where it’s hard to not put him on the floor. You just watch him play and he makes it easy for everybody else. He’s a two-way player, he’s a leader, a communicator, a facilitator, he knows how to push the tempo, he knows how to get guys in their spots early.”
Last year Ty Jerome played in 45 games for the Golden State Warriors where he averaged 6.9 points and 3.0 assists per game. The signing of Ty Jerome has gone somewhat under the radar in Cleveland as most of the attention has been focused on Strus and Niang. But, based on his stats and the high praises from Bickerstaff – Ty is looking like he could be a great pickup for this team. He especially fits in well with this defensive-focused unit. Coming in at 6’5″, Ty Jerome is one of the taller guards in the NBA. Last year he had averaged 1.0 steals per 36 minutes, along with 3.1 defensive rebounds. A guard like Ty who can facilitate the ball but handle his own on defense as well is just what the Cavs need from their bench players.
Sliding into the two spot next to Ty Jerome is Max Strus. We’ve already talked quite a bit about Strus previously in this piece. But one thing that wasn’t focused on was his impact on defense. While he might not be the greatest defender on the court, he is without a doubt more than capable of holding his own and being a reliable team defender. Strus plays a very physical game on the defensive side of the ball. He finished second to Draymond Green last year in charges drawn. Strus has also been successful at switching on his targets. That kind of versatility can help a team’s defense in the long run. While Strus would not be the main focus of this lineup’s defensive schemes, having him out there can help the others.
At the three spot is the other new guy, Georges Niang. While Niang’s shooting and floor spacing had been praised before, we haven’t explored his potential impact on defense. At 6’7″ and with a wingspan of 6’10” Niang’s size alone is what makes him an essential piece to this defensive unit. Niang at the small forward plays well with the 6’5″ guard duo of Jerome and Strus, not to mention Mobley and Allen playing their roles in the frontcourt. This unit’s collective height and length can help them close out games and put pressure on opposing teams.
Overall, if the Cavs are in a bind and need to apply some defensive pressure to mend some wounds on the court – this would be a lineup to consider.