Nwaba will join Tristan Thompson and Cedi Osman in the Cavs frontcourt and will be asked to defend LeBron James. With Osman returning from back spasms, it makes sense that the Cavs would want to protect him from the physical toll that comes with defending LeBron.
The decision to start Nwaba was first reported by Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
Cedi Osman was LeBron’s replacement in the Cavs starting lineup, but he won’t guard James at first. That job will go to David Nwaba, who is starting in place of Larry Nance. Cavs look to start with Sexton, Hood, Cedi, Nwaba, Tristan— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) November 21, 2018
It’s unclear whether or not Nwaba will remain in the starting lineup beyond this game, but with LeBron and Kyle Kuzma at the small and power forward positions having an additional wing defender is a smart choice.
Nwaba will likely bring to the position what the Cavs thought they were getting in Sam Dekker. While he is undersized, his 7’0 wingspan and defensive instincts allow him to hang with almost anybody on the perimeter.
Very few players have locked in their roles with the Cavs, as the team searches for an identity. This could be the opportunity Nwaba needed to lockdown a significant role in the rotation after playing over 20 minutes in each of the last three games.