It's still only July, so there is plenty of time before the Cleveland Cavaliers have to finalize their roster before next season. They still might add Ray Allen. Hopefully, they will be able to do something to add some insurance at the center position. And of course there is still the very real possibility that they will make a blockbuster trade to acquire a certain power forward from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
But if for some reason the season did start today, here are the players who would be on the roster: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Mike Miller, James Jones, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, Anderson Varejao, Brendan Haywood, Matthew Dellavedova, Carrick Felix, Joe Harris, and Dwight Powell.
It's safe to assume that no matter what moves the team still makes, Irving and LeBron will be in the starting lineup on opening night. The other three spots in that lineup are not nearly as clear. Drawing only from the current pool of players, here are David Blatt's options at those three spots.
Shooting guard: Dion Waiters or Andrew Wiggins?
Waiters started just 24 games last season, but he's been pretty clear about wanting to be a starter (it appears that he's since deleted at least one tweet in which he said that he didn't want to come off of the bench). Personally, I think that Waiters' skillset overlaps quite a bit with Irving's, and he'd be better suited as a sixth man running the second unit. With Jarrett Jack now out of the picture, he would more easily be able to fit into that role. And he'd have room to create with shooters like Miller and Jones also playing with that second unit.
The problem with having Waiters come off of the bench is that the only other real option to start is Wiggins, who has never played in an NBA game. Waiters may not be thrilled with that. It would also limit what Blatt's offense is capable of, because Wiggins is not going to be a particularly good shooter coming out of the gate. Waiters shot almost 37% from beyond the arc last season.
Defensively, Wiggins projects to be very good, but as a rookie, it's unlikely that he would actually be any better than Waiters. At least not from day one.
So while Wiggins may be a better fit for this spot in theory, I would actually be pretty surprised if he starts over Waiters on opening night.
Power forward: Tristan Thompson or Anthony Bennett?
Thompson is the incumbent. He has started all 82 games each of the last two seasons. While there has been much debate among fans about his value, most would agree that he's become a very solid player. He nearly averaged a double-double last season (11.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game). He could really thrive as a role player now that LeBron is in the picture.
It would be pretty shocking to see Bennett, who showed so little last season, start over Thompson. But I'm at least going to mention the possibility because Blatt seems like the kind of guy who will make some unconventional choices. Bennett's skillset, if he figures out how to utilize it, will probably be a better fit in Blatt's offense. Despite changing shooting hands, Thompson didn't really show much improvement with his jumper. Bennett, in theory, could be a guy who spreads the floor a little bit.
There is also the possibility that the Cavs could start Waiters at the two, Wiggins at the three, and LeBron at the four. I think Blatt will utilize that kind of lineup for stretches most nights, but I can't imagine LeBron starting at power forward. Brian Windhorst has talked in the past about how LeBron views himself as a wing, and he doesn't like to have to guard post players on a regular basis.
Center: Anderson Varejao?
If the season started today, Varejao would probably start at center. However, because of his injury history, the Cavs can't count on getting big minutes from him every night. In a perfect world, I'd love to see Varejao return to a role where he comes off of the bench and plays with energy for about 20-25 minutes.
Unfortunately, the Cavs don't have a lot of other options at the moment. Haywood was certainly capable of being a quality starter once upon a time, but he's now 34 years old, and he didn't play at all last season.
Thompson has played center before, so if Blatt were willing to start a smaller lineup, he could do something like: Irving/Waiters/LeBron/Bennett/Thompson, or even Irving/Waiters/Wiggins/LeBron/Thompson. With the way that traditional positions have become more obsolete in today's NBA, I'm sure that this is an option Blatt will consider.
What does everyone else think? Let's see your desired starting lineups in the comments.