Getting new guys going could definitely pay off for Cavaliers early

Georges Niang, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Georges Niang, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The beginning of the 2023-24 NBA campaign is almost underway, as the new season begins on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will start their new year. Then, the Cavaliers will take on the Brooklyn Nets on the road, before Cleveland faces the Oklahoma City Thunder and then Indiana Pacers at home on Friday and Saturday.

It’s felt so long since Cleveland has been in game action where the games have counted, but after an offseason where they fixed some things, Wine and Gold basketball is back this week.

Cleveland had a successful 2022-23 season, as they took another step forward after making the Play-In Tournament in 2021-22, and last year, the Cavaliers won 51 regular season. Cleveland returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, before being dispatched by the New York Knicks in just five games.

Although that playoff failure left a sour taste in fans’ mouths, there’s reason to believe the Cavs can build upon that experience, and what the team was able to do last year. Another year for team chemistry with Donovan Mitchell factors into that, but also with how Cleveland addressed their shooting, and to some extent, depth needs over the offseason.

Going into the new campaign, if the team can get the new guys going early, and give the top options a lift, that could really pay dividends, too.

Getting the new additions going could definitely pay off for the Cavaliers early on.

For Cleveland, both Max Strus and Georges Niang, their top offseason additions, should have notable roles. Strus looks poised to be Cleveland’s starting 3 option, at least for now going into the season, and Niang will be involved as one of the team’s key bench shooters.

With the Cavaliers prioritizing having more man and ball movement this season, Strus should be a player Cleveland looks to early and often, and from the outset of the year, that should be something to watch. In that aspect, there were glimpses of how Strus can have quite an impact for Cleveland with his continual motion in preseason.

Niang is not necessarily the movement shooter Strus has been in recent seasons, but he also moves without the ball well, and both of those players should flourish with the Cavaliers set to seemingly have a more diversified offense.

Early on, one would imagine the Cavs should be looking for both of those new faces on the wings for catch-and-shoot looks off of kickouts and skip feeds, a number of handoffs for Strus, and perhaps some pick-and-pops with Niang.

If Cleveland can get those guys going early, that could definitely give the team energy, and could make Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley all the more capable. Plus, Strus and/or Niang could help Jarrett Allen, provided Allen gets more comfortable and re-acclimated whenever he is cleared for game action from injury.

Strus and Niang combined to hit 351 threes last season, and in a Cleveland offense that has made a conscious effort to push the pace more, those two could be deadly transition shooters to target.

The gist is, while it’s understandable for both to be a bit hot and cold early on, if Strus and Niang can receive in-rhythm looks, with their presences as off-ball threats, that could really give the Cavaliers a different dynamic. In turn, others could be more dangerous. For instance, with Mobley set for an expanded role, the new additions should open up more room for him, and additionally, Mobley should be aided as a playmaking options by those having one or both of those new players on offense with him.

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Perhaps more than anything, just having Strus and Niang throughout games should give the Cavaliers more reliable vets that, if they find their way early on, could clearly give the team a boost and alleviate pressure from the key guys.