Pre-Training Camp Player Power Rankings for Cleveland Cavaliers
When breaking down the Cleveland Cavaliers current roster, it is plain to see that there is certainly a wide array of talent on the team.
While it may be clear who the best player on the roster is (see Irving, Kyrie), which Cavalier should come in second? Where do all three incoming rookies fit? Who has the edge between Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson?
The following is a power ranking of all 13 players on the Cavaliers current roster, ranked in terms of overall talent as they currently stand. This is not taking into account a player's past, nor his future, but simply the present.
The Cavs are one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA, and the following list of talented players are the reason why.
13. Carrick Felix, G/F
Power Stat: 38'5" vertical jump, 3.3 percent body fat*
A surprise pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA draft, Felix may struggle to get on the court much this season.
What is one way he could do it, though? Through defense, of course. After all, this is a Mike Brown-led team once again.
Felix struggled offensively in the NBA Summer League, but he has shown the potential to guard multiple positions at a high level. At 6'6", he can play either wing position and should have the work ethic to one day carve out a spot in the Cavaliers' rotation.
For now, Felix should see most of his time in the D-League with the Canton Charge, as he continues to build up his offensive game.
*Courtesy of DraftExpress.com player profile.
12. Sergey Karsev, SG/SF
Power Stat: 49.0 percent three-point shooting in 2012-2013 Eurocup
Karasev could certainly make a big leap up these rankings by season's end, but for now, it remains to be seen how the Russian star will fare on American soil.
A sharp-shooter with good size, Karasev showed off his stroke during the Eurocup this past year as a member of Triumph Moscow. In 11 tournament games, Karasev averaged 16.1 points while shooting nearly 50 percent from deep.
Just 19 years of age, Karasev could turn out to be one of the steals of the 2013 draft if he is given the right amount of time and opportunity to develop. He's shown the ability to not only score from the outside, but he can also drive and dish on occasion as well.
Playing time could be hard to come by this season, given that veterans Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles should start out ahead of Karasev on the depth chart.
At some point during the season, though, expect to see Karasev given a chance to produce and live up to the high expectations that come with being the No. 19 overall pick.
11. Tyler Zeller, C
Power Stat: Led Cavaliers in blocks in 2012-13 (0.9 per game)
Zeller will enter the 2013-14 season noticeably bigger, thanks to an offseason spent working out and indulging in Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
This is a very, very good thing for Zeller, as he was often pushed around as a rookie after being thrown into a starting role last season.
We know Zeller has a skill set that very few big men can emulate. He won ACC Player of the Year honors as a senior at North Carolina, thanks to his mobility, rebounding and ability to hit the outside jumper.
That being said, the NBA seemed a bit too big and fast for Zeller last season, as it does for a lot of big men when they first enter the league.
We saw a big improvement from Zeller's teammate, Tristan Thompson, from Year 1 to Year 2. Zeller could also take the next step, although with the bigs currently on the roster, he'll likely remain near the bottom of the rankings for now.
10. Alonzo Gee, SF
Power Stat: One of only two Cavs to play in all 82 games last year
Gee is the lowest-ranked player on this list that could realistically win a starting job this season.
That should say a lot about the Cavs' talent at the small forward position.
A hustle player and talented defender, Gee is a nice piece to have on any team, just preferably not as a starter. His skills should, and likely will be, utilized off the bench when he can use his energy in spurts to guard multiple positions on the court.
An offensively-challenged player, Gee shot just 41.0 percent from the field last season and 31.5 percent on three-pointers. At 6'6" and stuck with playing small forward against often larger opponents, Gee can struggle to create his own shot and isn't a threat from deep.
When given the opportunity to play off the ball and use his athleticism to slash to the basket, Gee can excel. When counted on to be a part of an offensive unit that must score and create for himself and others, well, Gee is a bit out of his element.
9. C.J. Miles, SG/SF
Power Stat: 15.2 points per game as a starter in 2012-13
One of the Cavs more interesting players, both on and off the court, Miles is a staple of inconsistency.
While he didn't have a bad year for the Cavs last season, there didn't seem to be much certainty that Cleveland would bring him back either.
Miles is a shooter, plain and simple, albeit a streaky one.
He'll have good nights, bad nights and "oh my gosh, I could shoot better than that" nights.
Still, one has to admire the 38.4 percent mark with which Miles connected on three-pointers last season. He was even better after the All-Star break, cranking his percentage up to 41.3 from deep.
If Cleveland chooses to go toward a youth movement and hand out more minutes to players like Karasev and Felix, a shooter like Miles and his affordable contract would be a welcomed addition to most teams come the trade deadline.
8. Earl Clark, SF
Power Stat: 10.3 points, 8.4 rebounds in January 2013
Clark will likely be the starter for the Cavaliers at small forward in 2013-14 after starting 36 games for the Los Angeles Lakers last season.
Heading into his fifth NBA season, Clark is still developing his game, and he added a three-point shot last season that was met with moderate success. Clark has also began transitioning from a four to a three, which is great news for the Cavaliers when talking about their areas of need.
At 6'10", Clark may not have the lateral quickness to keep up with the quicker small forwards in the league, but at least they'll have a difficult time shooting over him.
Clark is the last player to fall into the "ehh" category on this list, which isn't bad considering he comes in at No. 8. (For comparison's sake, just look at the team's awful roster from three years ago.)
The Cavs are a lot more talented from top to bottom than they have been in years past, as evidenced by the fact that a talented player like Clark can't even crack the top half of the list.
7. Anthony Bennett, PF/SF
Power Stat: 7'1" wingspan
A wingspan isn't the sexiest of stats, but for Bennett, it may have helped him go No. 1 overall in this year's draft.
Bennett answered all pf the questions about his skills in college by averaging 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a freshman at UNLV. However, some are still unsure of what his true position will be at the next level.
Standing at 6'8" and 240 pounds, Bennett has the height of a small forward but the bulk of a power four. Tweeners aren't exactly popular to draft, especially when you have the first overall pick. But what could have ended up saving Bennett was his long arm reach, which stretches over seven feet across.
The Cavs view Bennett as a power forward, and one that can score from multiple areas on the court.
His upside, potential and college production automatically shoot him up the power rankings, even though he has yet to play a single game in wine and gold.
Expect Bennett to be a big riser on this list in a few years, especially given the Cavs' success when selecting players first overall in the past.
6. Jarrett Jack, PG/SG
Power Stat: 17.2 points, 4.7 assists in 2013 NBA Playoffs
Jack earns a high ranking on this list, thanks in large part to his spectacular showing in the 2013 playoffs.
He chipped in 12.9 points and 5.6 assists off the bench during the regular season as a leading candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award, an honor he'll challenge for again in Cleveland this season.
An eight-year veteran out of Georgia Tech, Jack was the perfect signing to complement the Cavs' young backcourt. While this may be the highest ranking he'll receive as a member of the Cavs, his knowledge and leadership will only make others better and hungrier for a playoff push.
Jack could ultimately go down as one of the best free agent signings of the 2013 offseason.
5. Dion Waiters, SG
Power Stat: 4.4 shot attempts at rim per game, fourth among NBA shooting guards in 2012-13*
If there was ever a player just waiting to burst onto the scene, Waiters is that guy.
He has all the skill and ability in the world to be the next great shooting guard in the league, and he really started to put things together at the end of last season.
After the All-Star break, Waiters averaged 16.1 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the field. His shot selection, ability to get to the rim and overall feel for the game were noticeably improved from the season's first half.
Waiters may never reach the level that Kyrie Irving is on, but he could easily be considered the second-best Cavalier in a season or two.
Not bad for a college sixth man.
*Courtesy of HoopsData.com.
4. Tristan Thompson, PF
Power Stat: 306 offensive rebounds in 2012-13, second in the NBA*
Thompson and Dion Waiters are difficult to compare from a pure talent standpoint, but I'll give the edge to Thompson and his added year of NBA experience.
A rebounding machine last season, Thompson is always active around the glass, especially when it's his team that is shooting. Last season, only Zach Randolph pulled down more offensive rebounds (310) than Thompson, in what the latter's second pro season.
A hard-worker with an infectious personality, Thompson is exactly the type of guy that a coach wants on his team. His play got better as last season went along, and he ended the campaign with a 13.7-point, 10.8-rebound effort per night in the month of April.
Can Thompson keep up his strong rebounding numbers with the return of one big man and the signing of another?
It is definitely possible, but for now, the former No. 4 overall pick remains locked in at No. 4 on our list.
*Courtesy of ESPN.com.
3. Andrew Bynum, C
Power Stat: 63 playoff game starts before age 25
The wildcard of the group, Bynum could rise up or drastically fall on this list after the season begins.
One of the best centers in the game when healthy, Bynum is a seven-year veteran, All-Star starter and NBA Champion at the age of 25.
He could not only dominate due to his current skill set, but he should also continue to get better alongside Kyrie Irving.
It all comes down to his troublesome knees, ones which have undergone multiple surgeries in the past year. As his 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 2011-12 illustrate, Bynum can be quite the scoring and defensive presence when healthy and motivated.
Bynum at No. 3 on a team power ranking is indicative of a pretty good squad, one that will hopefully be in playoff contention come next spring.
2. Anderson Varejao, C
Power Stat: 14.4 rebounds a game in 25 games played in 2012-13
Varejao was the Cavs' second-best player last season, and it wasn't even close.
Leading the NBA in rebounding before splitting a leg muscle in December, Varejao was almost assuredly going to make his first All-Star team.
The 30-year-old center was also averaging a career-best 14.1 points, 3.4 assists and 1.5 steals.
No longer just a hustle player, Varejao has a nice offensive game to complement his strong defense and outstanding rebounding ability.
The only thing holding Varejao back has been himself. Three-straight seasons cut drastically short by injury have hurt his career, All-Star chances and, now, his chances of starting.
Expect Varejao to lose his starting role to Andrew Bynum at some point, but for now, Varejao is well deserving of being named Cleveland's second-best player.
1. Kyrie Irving, PG
Power Stat: 31.1 points per 48 minutes in 2012-13, fourth among NBA guards*
Irving is the reason people are talking about the Cavaliers again.
His handle may be the best in the league, and perhaps no player his size is better at scoring near the rim.
With just two seasons in the books, Irving has career averages of 20.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists. He's been named Rookie of the Year, an All-Star and a three-point contest winner.
At just 21 years old, Irving still has a lot of time to grow. His defense is lacking and his body needs to become more injury-resistant, but overall, Cleveland has a special, young player on their hands.
Irving can be paired with Varejao, Bynum, Bennett or even Thompson in pick-and-roll combos, and he is almost as lethal shooting from deep as he is driving to the basket.
Look for Cleveland to offer a full five-year, $80 million extension to Irving next summer in order to ensure that he stays in town for a long, long time.
*Courtesy of ProBasketballReference.com.