The Cleveland Cavaliers have run a two-big lineup for each of the last two seasons (and honestly a three-big lineup in 2021-22 with Lauri Markkanen at the 3). Jarrett Allen has manned the middle as center and Evan Mobley, a legitimate seven-footer in his own right, has played power forward. That pairing has resulted in one of the league’s best defenses.
The question of what the Cavaliers would look like with just a single big man, however, has been one that is difficult to answer. The Cavs have played poorly over the past two seasons when Allen has missed time, but the idea of Mobley at center surrounded by shooting seems like the best fit for the modern NBA.
Jarrett Allen has missed the entirety of the preseason thus far with an ankle injury, and that has had a silver lining for Cleveland. They have been able to see what the rotation looks like without Allen. Lineups with Georges Niang or Dean Wade at the 4 have opened up the offense and looked positively lethal.
If the Cavaliers were ready to commit to Mobley as the lone big they could move Allen in a trade for a more versatile player. The ideal player would be a high-end 3-and-D small forward, but those players are valued more highly than centers and usually aren’t for sale. Trading Allen for a power forward, however, could be a way to lean into a more offensively diverse lineup while still providing some size for matchups against teams with large front lines.
Let’s take a look at one such mock trade and see whether it would be the right move for the Cavaliers.