There’s been a running question since the Cavaliers added Dwyane Wade to the roster about who would eventually slot into the starting lineup. Well, today, we have our answer. At practice Monday, coach Tyronn Lue says Wade will start and J.R. Smith will come off the bench:
Tyronn Lue said Dwyane Wade will start at shooting guard for the Cavs and JR Smith will come off bench this season— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) October 9, 2017
A starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Jae Crowder and Kevin Love is one that makes sense based on name recognition, but probably leaves something to be desired with regards to fit.
Rose and Wade are sub-par defenders on a night-to-night basis, and the team sent one of its best defenders to the bench in Tristan Thompson, though they added versatility to the lineup in Jae Crowder. With that said, the team is going to need LeBron James to be engaged as a free safety on defense if they’re going to survive on that end. In the regular season, that seems...well, unlikely.
On the offensive end, the fit is even stranger, given that neither Rose nor Wade can shoot, and both represent the second and third best playmakers on the team. Somebody like Smith is a much cleaner fit offensively on a first unit, and could have a problematic time optimizing those second units with Smith and Korver both playing a similar role.
With that said, Lue said that we should expect Rose to anchor the second-unit offense:
Derrick Rose will start at PG but will leave Q1 early to run second unit— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) October 9, 2017
The injection of Crowder into the starting lineup is helpful. The team can invert its spacing with Love and Crowder operating on the perimeter with Wade and Rose slicing into the lane.
There are plenty of ways this could work, especially if the Cavaliers commit to it. That doesn’t mean it’s the optimal solution. There’s still no need to create these problems by just starting Smith It would’ve been a great statement about Wade’s commitment to team chemistry if he accepted a bench role.
As it is, the Cavs are trying this personnel grouping. That’s fine, and we know that Lue will make personnel adjustments if he needs to. If this doesn’t work, Cleveland isn’t locked into it forever. We’ll see how it plays out.