Cleveland Cavaliers: Stat Predictions for Every Cavs Starter in 2012-2013
Looking ahead to the 2012-13 season, the young Cavaliers have a lot to look forward to.
Pairing last year's Rookie of the Year in Kyrie Irving with incoming rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller gives the Cavs more young talent than they've had in over a decade.
When looking at the starting lineup, one can assume Irving and Varejao have their spots guaranteed. Tristan Thompson will be hard-pressed to not start at power forward, and Alonzo Gee is by fay the most talented small forward on the roster.
While it's unclear whether C.J. Miles or Dion Waiters will begin the season at shooting guard, for the sake of this article and looking into the future, we'll assume Waiters will win the job.
So what can we expect stat-wise from these five starters? Will Irving score more or less now that the talent level around him has gone up? Will Varejao continue the double-double pace he was putting up last season? Will Tristan Thompson develop into more of a scorer or remain just a rebounding and defensive force?
Here is an updated, projected look at the average stats for the Cavs' starters.
Center: Anderson Varejao
2011-2012 Stats Per Game: 10.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.4 steals, 31.4 minutes
2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 9.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.3 steals, 30 minutes
Expect another solid year from Anderson Varejao, especially on the glass.
With Tyler Zeller on board and an expanded role for Tristan Thompson, don't be surprised to see a slight drop in minutes for Varejao as the Cavs want to keep him fresh this season.
Don't be surprised to see a slight drop in scoring too, now that Zeller, Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles will all command shots.
His rebounding numbers might also take a hit, now that Varejao will be sharing more minutes in the post with Tristan Thompson instead of Antawn Jamison.
The main goal for Varejao should be to stay on the court. Going down with season-ending injuries the past two years, the Cavs need a healthy Varejao for his production, but also to serve as a coach on the floor for all of their young big men.
His numbers should still be solid, but don't expect Andy to top last year's stats.
Power Forward: Tristan Thompson
2011-2012 Stats Per Game: 8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.5 steals, 23.7 minutes
2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 28 minutes
Thompson should enjoy a strong sophomore campaign for a number of reasons.
His playing time should be much more plentiful than last season. Coming off the bench for the majority of his rookie year, Thompson's playing time was often inconsistent. Finding regular minutes should help improve his production.
Thompson spent 25 games last season as the team's starting center. At 6'9" and 227 pounds, he was vastly undersized but still managed 10.4 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, despite going up against bigger opponents on a nightly basis.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Thompson worked hard this summer to add muscle to his frame and put on a total of 18 pounds.
This added muscle coupled with a move back to power forward should mean a much improved Thompson in 2012-13.
Expect a nice increase in stats across the board, especially in scoring and rebounding.
Small Forward: Alonzo Gee
2011-2012 Stats Per Game: 10.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 29.0 minutes
2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 26 minutes
Although Alonzo Gee should be the starter from day one, he'll likely face more competition for minutes from the newly signed C.J. Miles.
Taking the job from the incumbent Omri Casspi about halfway through the 2011-12 season, Gee posted strong numbers of 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.
A slasher who does most of his scoring on the move, I expect Gee's production to stay consistent with his minutes. Miles will see time at both shooting guard and small forward, and the Cavs should give Casspi some time to redeem himself from last season.
I see a slight drop in minutes for Gee, but very similar numbers from last year.
Shooting Guard: Dion Waiters
2011-2012 Stats Per Game: N/A
2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.2 steals, 32 minutes
It's tough to judge what kind of stats and minutes Waiters will wind up with this season.
Still fighting for a starting job, it's a safe bet to assume Waiters will crack the opening lineup at some point this year.
Being the fourth overall pick in the draft, he better.
In seven preseason games, Waiters put up averages of 8.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.
The main concern was his shooting—only 34.4 percent from the field to be exact. Low shooting percentages certainly don't help when fighting for a starting job.
Due to the Cavs lack of depth at shooting guard, Waiters is destined for big minutes this season whether he starts or not.
Expect the scoring numbers to slowly creep up as the season progresses, with a handful of assists and rebounds thrown in there as well.
Waiters was picked as a project, not to be an immediate star. Cavs fans need be patient, as Chris Grant has proven his eye for talent to be 20/20.
Point Guard: Kyrie Irving
2011-2012 Stats Per Game: 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 30.5 minutes
2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 21.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.5 steals, 34 minutes
Fantasy basketballers should feel confident drafting Irving early this season.
As good as his rookie season was, Irving didn't even reach 31 minutes a game on average.
Without Ramon Sessions behind him, the Cavs will likely give Irving a nice increase in minutes (with only Donald Sloan and Jeremy Pargo to back him up).
After a relatively slow start to the season, Irving played his best basketball in the month of March. In 15 games, he averaged 19.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per contest.
With a season under his belt and a full training camp and preseason heading into 2012-13, there's no reason to not expect an even better statistical year for Irving.
The best player on the Cavs is quickly becoming one of the best in the league. Expect bigger minutes, and stats, for Irving this season.