Cleveland Cavaliers: Team Rotation Preview for 2011-2012 Season
The purpose of this article will be an attempt to preview the Cavaliers' team rotation for the 2011-2012 season.
While this rotation will undoubtedly change throughout the year with possible injuries and departures of veteran players, this is what I believe will be the most accurate position-by-position breakdown with regard to minutes, player roles and team depth chart.
Each player will be assigned a role NBA 2K style and given a minutes projection of what they can expect to see with the roster as it currently stands.
Starter: Anderson Varejao
This is a no-brainer given the lack of talent Cleveland has at this position. Varejao was averaging a career high in points, rebounds and minutes last season before tearing a tendon in his ankle.
Word is Varejao spent most of his offseason working on his offensive game, something that has progressed immensely over previous years.
Role Player: Samardo Samuels
While not technically a true center at 6'9", expect Samuels to see most of his minutes at the center position due his his frame and rebounding abilities. At 260 pounds, Samuels is one of the few Cavaliers that can bang down low, something that isn't in Ryan Hollins or Semih Erden's game.
Don't be surprised if Samuels earns more minutes with his improved game.
Benchwarmer: Ryan Hollins
Hollins might find minutes tough to come by now with a healthy Varejao and quite frankly a better player in Samuels.
Despite this, the Cavs still suffer from a lack of size, so I still see Hollins as part of the 12-man dress team—for now, anyway.
With Semih Erden out with a broken thumb, it's anyone's guess what the center rotation will look like after Varejao.
I'm not sure the Cavaliers know what they have with Erden yet, due to his fragility ever since coming over in a trade from the Celtics. Samuels could have a nice year, but the Cavaliers need, need, need Andy to stay healthy.
Starter: Antawn Jamison
Jamison will begin the year as the starter, but most certainly won't end it as one.
The Cavaliers are in a good situation this year with Jamison, as his mentoring skills, professionalism and knowledge of the game will hopefully rub off on Tristan Thompson.
His expiring $15 million could also be used as trade bait for another team looking to clear cap space or kept to help free space on the Cavs' payroll.
Prospect: Tristan Thompson
Thompson is going to be a fun player to watch this year, at least on the defensive end.
He's already shown in preseason his incredible wingspan and leaping ability when it comes to blocking and altering shots.
With the number of quality power forwards in the league, the pick of the defensive-minded Thompson could end up being a terrific one. Patience is key when it comes to the offensive end, however.
Benchwarmer: Luke Harangody
Duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh...charge! As in Canton, that is.
Jamison will keep the seat warm until Thompson's ready or Jamison himself is traded, whichever comes first The Cavaliers may soon have one of the finest defensive frontcourts in all of basketball—just don't rely on them to score.
Starter: Omri Casspi
Casspi could be the wild card for the Cavaliers' season.
Alonzo Gee can't hit open shots, and Jamario Moon and Joey Graham were nothing short of awful for the Cavaliers at small forward last season. This year's hope for the position relies on Casspi, the third-year player who will be counted on for tough perimeter defense and a good amount of scoring.
Role Players: Alonzo Gee/Christian Eyenga
The leftover small forward minutes to be split between Gee and Chistian Eyenga will come down to who defends better. Honestly, that's anyone's guess.
Eyenga has the blueprint of a great defender who could emerge as a starter by season's end. Gee has the ability to drive the lane but isn't a good jump-shooter. It would be great to see one of these two separate themselves in the battle for minutes, or to see who can frustrate Byron Scott more.
If Casspi turns out to be a bust and Hickson thrives in Sacramento, Chris Grant could be on a short leash.
Here's hoping Cavs first-round pick Eyenga can beat out former D-Leaguer Gee.
Starter: Anthony Parker
Parker gets the starting nod to add a veteran, experienced player to complement the rookie Irving in the backcourt.
I get that, but the truth is Parker doesn't belong on a team like the Cavs. His skills don't warrant a starting position, nor does his experience warrant a spot on a young team like the Cavs.
Expect Parker, much like Jamison, to be dealt during the season to contending teams and create minutes for younger talent.
Role Player: Boobie Gibson
Boobie actually enjoyed a nice season with the Cavaliers last year and at 25 is now one of the team's veterans. Gibson should help to pick up the lack of offense Parker will provide out of this spot, but he will continue to struggle guarding the bigger 2-guards in the league.
Minutes will vary from night to night, but Gibson should expect to be a solid part of the rotation with his shooting abilities.
Benchwarmer: Manny Harris
Harris will have to work his way back in the rotation from a freak foot injury, but don't be surprised if he eventually steals minutes from Parker and Gibson.
This is an incredibly weak position for the Cavaliers. Could we see Austin Rivers or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in this spot next year?
Starter: Kyrie Irving
Yet to earn the starting role officially, Irving will beat out Ramon Sessions for the spot.
Already in preseason, Irving has shown he has a special feel for the court and those around him, while not shying away from driving the lane himself.
His leadership and calmness on the court will carry over to his teammates, although it may not necessarily translate to wins—yet. For now, enjoy Kyrie Irving as a player and a person, and everything he'll bring to Cleveland this year.
Sixth Man: Ramon Sessions
Sessions is a three-point shot away from being an outstanding guard in this league.
He attacks the basket extremely well and has excellent court vision as well. With Baron Davis gone, Sessions' minutes will see a big increase.
Will they be enough to convince him to pick up his player option after this year?
Undoubtedly the most talented position on the team, even without Baron Davis.
Irving's durability will be tested with the condensed schedule, but the Cavs won't have to give him huge minutes with a backup as talented as Sessions.