Last season it wasn’t too hard to figure who should be starting for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team lacked depth and as injuries hit the team, the number of able bodied players available for Tyronn Lue to utilize was limited.
With the additions the Cavs have made this summer, there are so many intriguing potential lineups. After a few days in training camp, Lue is opening up to the idea of starting Kevin Love at center. According to a report from Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Lue told cleveland.com before the start of training camp that Thompson was the team's starting center entering workouts, but conceded he was still deciphering how best to use the Cavs' collection of talent.
Love was told to be ready to play more center.
"We did a lot of that last training camp, but as far as how the sets are put together right now throughout training camp I am seeing a pretty significant amount of time there," Love said Saturday. "Depends on -- now with so many guys on the team and so many lineups that we can throw out there it will probably change."
Lue was a man of few words after practice Saturday, but said "that's fair" when asked if it was OK to characterize the situation as him deciding between Love and Thompson at center.
It’s clear that the team is looking for ways to get Love more involved in the offense after the departure of Kyrie Irving. Using him at center will allow the Cavs to run offense through him to help open up cutting lanes. Once Isaiah Thomas gets back, it will also allow the team to run high post hand-offs for him, similar to the looks Al Horford generated for him in Boston.
If the team decides to start both Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, starting Love at center would almost be a necessity. The spacing issues that would be caused by having Wade, Rose, and Tristan Thompson on the floor at the same time would likely be a disaster.
If the team starts Rose, Wade, Crowder, LeBron, and Love, they likely won’t be able to run the same LeBron orientated drive and kick style we’ve seen in the past. Rose and Wade simply aren’t threats in that kind of system and the opposition would be able to send a lot of help towards LeBron. They would need to run more offense through Love at the high post, as well as a two man game with he and LeBron. This would help draw in the defense and open up cutting lanes for their slashers.
The biggest concern with this lineup possibility is obviously at the defensive end of the floor. Thompson blossomed as a rim protector and grew into a well rounded defender last season, something Love doesn’t bring to the table. LeBron also isn’t fond of covering power forwards in the regular season, as it takes a heavy toll on his body. While Crowder would be able to take on a lot of those responsibilities, in order for the defense to work the Cavs would need to see a higher level of engagement from LeBron than we’ve traditionally seen in the regular season.
Ultimately I think this lineup will be an effective one, regardless of whether or not Lue decides to deploy it at the start of the game, or to blitz the opposition throughout the course of the game. Not starting Thompson also could help keep him fresh for the playoffs. How the team performs in the preseason and what units impress will likely determine what lineup we see on opening night against the Boston Celtics.