How will Big Z’s return change things?

March 23rd, 2010 by John Krolik

Forgive me in advance for this being somewhat of a bare-bones rundown. According to the most recent rumors, Z is expected to re-sign with the Cavaliers at some point on Tuesday. Assuming that happens, although nothing is certain until Z’s signed the agreement, let’s take a look at some of the effects:

– First off, Z should absolutely not start his first game at the Q. Man needs a standing O to call his own when he comes off the bench. I am very excited about this. For all you YouTube geniuses out there, if you get that standing O, please send it to me so I can put it on the site.

-Past that, the question is whether or not Z should start at center until Shaq comes back. Z has been a starter his whole career, and has struggled to find his shot coming off the bench. On the other hand, the Cavs have done pretty darn well with Z coming off the bench thus far, and Z’s unit has dominated the 2nd half of 1st quarters this season. Here are the pros and cons of some starting frontcourt combos:

Z/Jamison:

Perhaps the most likely frontcourt combo, as both Z and Jamison are veterans. Having Z space the floor and work from the high post would allow Jamison to use his greatest strength offensively, which is his ability to make smart cuts, tough catches, and finish from odd angles. (As much as his outside shooting and floaters get played up, Jamison is more effective around the rim.) The issue with this lineup is that it puts the Cavs’ two best front-court shooters together, and MB may be hesitant to plunge Z back into the starting lineup.

Z/Hickson:

Hickson excels at cutting to the rim and finishing. In fact, that’s pretty much all he does. He also is much better early in the game, when the ball moves more and he’s not forced to make one-on-one moves. Brown has shown a lot of faith in Hickson all season, and Jamison did win 6th Man of the Year in Dallas. Don’t count out this possibility.

Hickson/Jamison:

It hasn’t been so bad thus far, and Z and Andy have proven to be effective coming off the bench. This would be the lineup least likely to tweak the chemistry, but it could leave the Cavs with a hole in the middle to start games.

Other notes:

– Whatever happens, it appears that Brown is committed to bringing Andy off the bench. Judging by Andy’s +/- scores this year, that’s a tough strategy to argue with.

-It appears obvious that Z should get Jawad’s minutes when he returns, but Brown has surprised us before. As of now, it looks like Leon Powe deserves 10-15 minutes a game, and Jawad has not been playing at a high level.

Alright, those are my cursory thoughts. Sound off in the comments and let me know what I left out.