While it has often been stated the Cavaliers are following the Oklahoma City model for success, one can see the influence of the Denver Nuggets formula regarding fit. When first hired, Byron Scott declared that the Cavs would be a "running team" that would follow the Princeton offense of cutting, ball movement, and constantly looking for the open man. The problem was that the Cavs didn't have the players to fit this system. Players such as Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison, Jawad Williams, and Leon Powe either lacked the skills or athleticism to play this style of basketball. Over the last two years however, Cavs GM Chris Grant has done a great job finding players who fit Scott's system. Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Donald Sloan, Tyler Zeller, and Jon Leuer all excel on the break. Even while in the midst of a disappointing season last year, Omri Casspi has also shown the ability to finish at the rim in transition. If healthy, Daniel Gibson and Kelenna Azubuike can also play this style of uptempo basketball. A slimmed down Samardo Samuels should be able to contribute as well. The only question marks are Luke Harangody, Kevin Jones, and Luke Walton (i'm basing this off of Conrad's probable roster), none of whom are expected to play much anyway.
Not only do these players fit the system, but their styles of play fit together as well. Everything revolves around Irving as the main offensive cog. Kyrie has shown the ability to hit outside shots, finish at the rim, and create for others, all at an elite level. Despite his Summer League struggles, Waiters adds another player who can create for himself and others and get to the rim at will. He also showed solid range in college. The Cavs have also rebuilt their frontcourt and taken it from thin to promising. Varejao is an amazing defender who cuts very well to the rim and Thompson has shown the potential to become the same type of player. While not considered by many to be a starting level NBA small forward, Gee had shown tremendous improvement until tailing off at the end of last season. His strengths of playing excellent defense, playing well off the ball, hitting the open three, and cutting to and finishing at the rim fit this team well. Zeller and Leuer provides offensive skills and outside shooting in the frontcourt to somewhat replace what was lost with Antwan Jamison (unfortunately Leuer's defense resembles Jamison's as well), and the accumulative production of Zeller,Leuer, and Jones should be greater than that of Jamison, Erden, and Hollins when you take into account both Jamison's defense and the nonproduction of Erden and Hollins. Samuels has shown a Leon Powe like ability to play below the rim, yet draw falls and hit his free throws. As far as the rest of the probable rotation goes, Sloan has work to do as a distributor, but does a good job getting to the rim. Gibson, Azubuike, and Casspi can provide outside shooting if they are healthy and return to career norms.
Are there flaws to this Cavs roster? Of course, only Varejao, Gee, and Thompson are considered above average defenders, although effort and motor is a big part of this team's design. Inconsistent three point shooting is also an issue. While the Cavs have not spent the money or have the depth the Nuggets have, they do have something the Nuggets do not; a true superstar in Kyrie Irving. All of these reasons, plus a ton of cap space and draft picks are why the Cavs could contend for a playoff spot this year, and a championship for years to come.
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