This week, the questions are all about versatility. Be sure to submit your answers below!
As of now, how many players do the Cavs have that you think can actually defend multiple positions well?
Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): Larry Nance Jr. is one. Cedi Osman is one, I think. Tristan Thompson is if he counts as a current player. I’ll give Kevin Porter Jr. half credit at this point in his career. So, that’s 2.5 or 3.5 depending on Thompson’s status. Alfonzo McKinnie counts, but I don’t know if he’s a rotation piece. A really good team like the Raptors, for instance, are loaded with guys who can move around to different spots on the floor. Even their minimum signings — undrafted free agent Terence Davis and young veteran Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — are built that way.
Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan): I’d say two in Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson. Maybe one and a half since Tristan isn’t long for Cleveland. Like most of the Cavs roster, the options are limited in terms of multifaceted players on both ends of the floor. That’s obviously a problem, especially considering top teams like the Bucks, Celtics, Lakers, Clippers, and Heat all have versatile players on both ends. The Cavs have to step it up in terms of finding and developing versatile talent.
Jackson Flickinger (@Akron_Jackson): I’d say two in Tristan and Nance. Maybe you could make an argument for Alfonzo McKinnie as he at least has the size to guard multiple positions. Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr. were all asked to defend more than one position this last season but didn’t do it particularly well. No matter how you look at it, the Cavs have a roster full of players who fit only personalized roles. That isn’t something you want to see when constructing a roster.
How many Cavs players do you think can fill multiple offensive roles at an above-average level?
CM: Kevin Love can, although we don’t see it much anymore. Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr. and Larry Nance Jr. (due to his passing and finishing) can too. So I’ll say four while noting that the best version of Darius Garland will be this and Andre Drummond once operated out of the elbow too. Osman maybe could count as well, but the playmaking potential he showed in Europe hasn’t consistently showed up in the NBA.
ED: I think there’s three on the current roster. Collin Sexton is a combo scoring guard and has shown flashes as a playmaker in Bickerstaff’s offense. Kevin Porter Jr. has shown potential as a slasher, a shot creator, and a perimeter threat. It remains to be seen if he can put it all together. Larry Nance Jr. can play three through five and has showcased ability attacking the rim, hitting from behind the arc, and playmaking.
JF: I’d say five. Love is an elite three-point shooter who incorporated a decent midrange game to go along with his post up and secondary playmaking ability. Besides that, I think we’ve seen enough out of Sexton and Porter to believe that they will be able score at all three levels while getting to the line. Nance and Drummond have shown that they can attack defenses in different ways as well. Unfortunately many of these skills are overlapping and there isn’t a consistent playmaker on the roster. The offense will remain hit and miss until they can find someone who can step into that role.
Where does versatility rank on your list of Cavs needs?
CM: Aside from high-end talent, it might be No. 1 on my list. And if it’s not, it’s No. 2. The Cavs’ lineups last season were basically all two guards, small wing, two bigs, one of whom could shoot. There just isn’t aa lot of variety in that and it really hampers what the Cavs can do. I want to see them take steps forward in mixing it up.
ED: It ranks fairly high up there. Let’s be honest, this Cleveland team is starving for talent so the more versatile the player, the better.
JF: High. The NBA has been dominated the last few seasons by teams who have interchangeable pieces who can fill multiple roles on offense and defense. The last time the Cavs had multiple players who maybe fit that mold was 2009. I’d like to see the Cavs build a modern defense like they’ve been trying to do with the offense.
Who is a player (or players) on another team whose versatility you wish the Cavs had or had something similar to?
CM: Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges. He’s a sublime defender across multiple spots on the wing and can plug defensive holes all across the perimeter. Another is Boston’s Grant Williams, who could be that bulky three-four hybrid role that the Cavs really, really need. For what Osman and Porter Jr. are, he’d be a great compliment. Alex Caruso probably counts here too since he’s the exact type of guard you’d want next to a Sexton or Garland.
ED: Mikal Bridges is my pick as well. He’s really blossomed into a two-way threat and the clamps he put on Jayson Tatum gives me serious FOMO.
JF: I’m enamored by wings since the Cavs haven’t had a decent one not named LeBron James in two decades. I wish the Cavs had a combination like the Toronto Raptors have with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Both were late firsts who had size and athleticism, but weren’t taken high because of their limited offensive skillset. Both were able to contribute immediately to good teams with their defensive upside and have progressed into good offensive players. I don’t expect the Cavs to find a Siakim late in the draft, but I would like to see them value players with size and that pre-draft skillset.