Now that we all believe that the Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and pick deal is agreed upon, we can move forward a bit with our expectations. (As an aside it is interesting that Brian Windhorst made those statements but didn’t put a full post out stating such). With what we know about the Cleveland Cavaliers and their off-season there are a few other moves that might happen following the Love acquisition. Most likely including the signing of Ray Allen and Shawn Marion to veteran minimum contracts. We will look at the Cavs roster with those assumed moves. Today we look at the best possible shooting lineup:
Point Guard - Kyrie Irving – Career – 45% FG, 38% 3 Point and 86% FT
Irving and Matthew Dellavedova are the only 2 real point guards on the Cavs roster at this time. Dion Waiters will likely play some of the backup minutes at the point and LeBron James often plays that role as well. Irving will fill the starting and best shooting lineup role at the point for the Cavs. His shooting percentages are good but he needs to continue to improve. Learning to be a better catch and shoot player, as well as not being the #1 target of the defense, should help him as well.
Shooting Guard - Ray Allen – Career – 45% FG, 40% 3 Point and 89% FT
Allen will likely backup Waiters but will be inserted in when the Cavs want as many shooters on the floor as possible. Allen can camp out anywhere and be a deadly weapon for the team. With Irving and James running the point teams won’t be able to sag into the middle with Allen in the corner or on the wing. Instead Allen will space the floor and still has enough to ball fake his defender and score in other ways a few times a game. Compared to Waiters 34% from the 3 point line and 71% at the charity stripe Allen is a huge upgrade. Waiters is far more athletic and should be a much better defender but Allen is the Best Shooting Lineup’s 2 guard.
Small Forward - Mike Miller – Career – 46% FG, 41% 3 Point and 77% FT
While James will be the Cavs all everything small forward, including starting their, Miller fills this role on the Best Shooting Lineup next to his former teammate Allen. Miller’s real competition will be with James Jones, also a former Miami Heat player. Miller’s experience and minutes played give him the advantage as long as his health holds. For his career Jones has only started 89 games in 11 seasons with 40%, 40% and 80% numbers. Miller has the edge. He is also athletic enough and with a high enough basketball IQ to makes plays off the dribble as defenders close on him.
Power Forward - LeBron James – Career – 50% FG, 34% 3 Point and 75% FT
While much has been made in the last day of James slimming down to not play the 4 spot, he still has the body to do so, especially in small ball lineups of the NBA. While James’ numbers aren’t overly impressive related to shooting, except for that 50% number due to his time spent near the rim, he still will be in on the Best Shooting Lineup. With James out there as a stretch/point 4, the Cavs will have many options. Let Irving and James run the pick and roll. Let James run the PnR with the center and have Irving, Allen and Miller around the outside. Let James roam the cutting lanes off the ball while Irving handles the ball. Yet with James ever increasing shooting skill he can also be a knockdown spot up shooter if he continues to improve as he has over the past few years.
Center - Kevin Love – Career – 45% FG, 36% 3 point and 82% FT
Hard to believe that Love has only been in the league for 6 years. Coming over Love will start at the power forward spot, shifting Tristan Thompson to first big off the bench. In the Best Shooting lineup though Love fits perfectly at center. Love’s 3 point numbers are low due to a horrible season in 12-13 when he was hurt. Last season he shot 38% and will continue at that clip, or better, with this Cavaliers team. With Love at the 5 spot the Cavs have a ton of options. Let him spot up off Irving/James PnRs or run Love as the pick man who can pop or roll. With James or Irving up top and Love running the pick game the Cavs would be loaded with shooting options that leave the floor open for either of the two to take it to the hoop. With shooters surrounding James and Irving will likely make the best basketball play. While Love isn’t a solid center, there are few in the league and he has enough back to the basket game to make a smaller guy pay.
The results are a team with open shots and open lanes. While they would struggle on defense, only James is an above adequate defender, this lineup mostly will be used when a score is needed or in short spurts. Defenses would have a tough time deciding what to do. Allow James or Irving to score at the rim or help off one of these dynamite shooters leaving them open for the high percentage shots. Either way the Cavs can eliminate many of the bad mid range jumpers and rely on the high efficiency shots that are dominating the league.
The offense defense shift would be dramatic with only James and possibly Irving sometimes making the trip to the other end of the floor at the end of games. Next we will look at the all defense team the Cavs can deploy as we currently expect the roster to be constituted.
What were your thoughts looking at this group of 5 shooters on the floor at the same time?