The Point Four-ward: The Great American Lineup Buffet

buffet

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) The Cavaliers recent signing of Shawn Marion continues an off-season theme for the team. No, it’s not “sign guys nearly as old as Robert,” though I do appreciate David Griffin’s signings allowing me to talk knowledgeably about the late-90s with some degree of relevance for a change. It’s this: from LeBron James to Kevin Love to Mike Miller and rookies Joe Harris and Dwight Powell, Griffin has been limbering up his roster to give head coach David Blatt lineup flexibility that could, Griffin hopes, put your bikram yoga instructor to shame.

While Blatt may tinker a little in training camp, the bulk of the regular season will probably feature some pretty conventional lineups and there’s no telling at this point what this team’s most successful version of itself will be. Still, it’s difficult to look up and down this roster of players who can play multiple positions and not see some fun potential five-man units. Here are some of my favorite combos:

Kyrie Irving-Dion Waiters-James-Kevin Love-Anderson Varejao

This is the Cavs’ presumptive “best” lineup should you happen to fall on the positive side of the Waiters conversation. This is the line-up that, if it does not start games, will likely finish them. What it lacks in paint-bullying rim protecting it more than makes up for with a.) well-documented chronicling of how this team lacks a rim protector and b.) an offensive unit that features five outstanding passers, enough shooting (probably), four guys who can create their own shot and pick-and-roll pairings galore.

Even on defense, this group should be good enough. If Irving’s shockingly engaged defense currently on display for Team USA migrates into the regular season, it basically forces Waiters to step up his consistency on the defensive end. Regardless of how well Irving and Waiters “get along,” Waiters’s alpha-aspirations bristle when Irving’s effort shows up his own. Let me be clear: this is not a bad thing. The Cavs just want to turn the negative effects of that competition into something positive and Irving’s own transformation from revolving door to, at least, a wood-framed screen should nudge Waiters toward realizing his potential on the defensive end.

2.) Waiters-Miller-Marion-James-Love

There will be plenty of times this year when the Cavs shift James to the four and Love to the “small ball” five (even though, at 6-10, 260, the Cavs aren’t really that small with Love in the post). While the Cavs went small plenty under Mike Brown last year, the addition of James (obviously) and now Marion allow them to have this option without the drawback of Waiters guarding the opposing team’s three.

As Nate deftly detailed earlier this week, Marion’s not going to be (or, at least, should not be) looking for his shot much beyond tips, oops and corner threes. The same can be said for Miller, but this lineup should be a space creating machine. Every player in this lineup needs to be respected beyond the arc. This should open up room for James and Waiters to explode to the hoop and either finish there or dish back out for a good look at a three-pointer. This lineup also allows Coach Blatt to go to James in the post where he has become incredibly effective or down low to Love where he has become incredibly under-appreciated.

And, yes, clearly Irving could be used at the point here, as well.

3.) Matthew Dellavedova-Iriving-Waiters-Marion-James

Also known as the “crossing the streams” lineup, this collection of players is the lineup of last resort… or on the off-chance that Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol ever begin resembling skyscraping monsters made of sugar and puffed (puft) air drawn forth from our collective imagination bent on destroying the world.

Coach Blatt, known for his offensive innovation, couldn’t possibly resist a couple of minutes of James at the five a handful of times during the season, could he? This would have been a safer bet before James slimmed down over the summer, but even a slimmed down James could defend a player like Love, even if he winds up giving up a couple of inches. So, if you can choose to play Love at center, you could also choose to explode the basketball universe by using James at center, letting Marion man the four and rolling out three guards. Dogs and cats living together, people…

Can I give you a basketball situation where this would be the smart lineup to use? Absolutely not. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about it.

Ten minutes. All season long. That’s all I’m asking for.

4.) Irving-Andrew Wiggins-James-Anthony Bennett-Tristan Thomspon

[record scra-a-a-a-tch]

Wait, what??

Lost in the pro-Love din that followed the report that the Cavs agreed to send Wiggins, Bennett and a future first round pick to Minnesota for the forward with his bags already packed, was this: the report that, if the Cavs received any assurance from Love that he would re-sign with the team as a free agent at the end of next year, the league could block the trade.

Once upon a not-too-long-ago time, then-Commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Chris Paul from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Lakers. Stern’s objection was that the Lakers didn’t offer a good enough deal (despite the fact that all of the management involved were ready to sign-off on the trade). Blocking the Cavs-Wolves trade would be even murkier, though, since the league would have to prove a series of (no doubt) verbal agreements.

By all accounts, the front offices in both Cleveland and Minnesota have been careful to do things the right way, saying only what league rules permit them to say, and there have been no further reports indicating that the league is checking into things.

Still, take a look at that lineup.

Just in case. Take a good, long look…

 

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Underdog
Guest
Underdog
3 years 10 months ago

While everyone here is enthusiastic about the potential lineups that can be rolled out, I’ve been getting excited about the coaching staff. I think Blatt will be a top coach, but I think the whole cadre is outstanding.

If I’m not mistaken, I recall a playoff series where Lue was given the assignment of guarding Allen Iverson. Of course, AI is AI . . . but I can’t remember seeing anyone pester AI as much as Lue. So, while the talk about Lue has been all about him teaching Kyrie to be a point guard (and KI has looked much more growed up in the int’l tourney) – I wouldn’t be surprised if Lue turned him into a perky defender as well.

I also recall John Drew having a nice game in his day.

JJJJ
Guest
JJJJ
3 years 10 months ago
Raoul
Guest
Raoul
3 years 10 months ago

Who knew Windhorst was still around?

EvilGenius
Admin
3 years 10 months ago

Gotta love Windy for trying to stay relevant. Comical

Nate Smith
Admin
3 years 10 months ago

Matthew Dellavedova-Iriving-Waiters-Marion-James should be replaced with Matthew Dellavedova-Iriving-Waiters-James-Love… Outlet pass layups galore.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
3 years 10 months ago

Best lineups
Irving, Waiters, James, Love, Andy
Waiters, Miller, Marion, Love, TT
Irving, Miller, Marion, Allen, TT
Irving, Miller, Marion,James, Andy
Waiters, Allen, James, Miller, Love

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

“Irving, Miller, Marion, Allen, TT”

That lineup would be the worst defensive lineup in the league.

James
Guest
James
3 years 10 months ago

And pretty awful offensively. A load of guys standing around as Kyrie dribbles and dribbles and dribbles…

Knob
Guest
Knob
3 years 10 months ago

Next person to write “Rim Protector” needs to be banished from polite society. You won’t need one if you keep people from getting to the rim.

NYCav
Guest
NYCav
3 years 10 months ago

Kyrie-LeBron-Marion-Love-Andy. Unless Kareem is suiting up for the other team, that lineup should be able to handle any big in the league while still spacing the floor on the offensive end.

EvilGenius
Admin
3 years 10 months ago

“Rim Protector” (but only because I refuse to be a part of polite society)

Seriously though, how many actual “Rim Protectors” are even out there? Once you get past Anthony Davis, Serge Ibaka and maybe Noah, who’s left that’s so great? The whole concept of “Rim Protector” seems false and dated.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
3 years 10 months ago

Yep. It’s become this weird thing. The Cavs could use a backup big man because of the unreliability of Andy/Haywood. But that’s all they need. A backup dude for a few minutes a game.

This team is set to dominate the East next year and probably win it all as currently constructed.

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

Rim protector has been a need since they drafted Kyrie. We haven’t made moves to get one, but I do agree with you that it won’t be a huge issue. We have the players to play defense now (LeBron, Marion) and to teach the younger guys how to do it. Rim protector would be a luxury at this point.

cwzagger
Guest
cwzagger
3 years 10 months ago

Delly-Waiters-James-Thompson-Varejao

The All Energy team! So pesky on defense

Hot Sauce
Guest
Hot Sauce
3 years 10 months ago

If you want to get fired up about Blatt and Cavs, listen to Calipari in this interview.

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

This was great. Thanks for sharing.

Hot Sauce
Guest
Hot Sauce
3 years 10 months ago

Good article. The lineups are going to be insane. So many choices. I personally also like Kyrie-Dion-Marion-Lebron-Love and Kyrie-Dion-Miller-LeBron-Love. SO MUCH SPACING. Its really kind of insane.

In terms of the veto, we have to remember that Stern blocked the Paul trade in his role as OWNER of the Pelicans. He did not block the trade in his role as commissioner, and I don’t think I have ever seen a trade blocked by a commissioner unless there is concrete, documented proof of a violation. So as long as the Cavs and Love never signed anything, no worries here.

Nate Smith
Admin
3 years 10 months ago
Hot Sauce
Guest
Hot Sauce
3 years 10 months ago

One other note: NBA.com has been running stories yesterday and today about the Wiggins-Love deal, how it is basically done, and how it will affect both teams. If the NBA was considering blocking the trade, I assume NBA.com wouldn’t be running stories about how it is basically done.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
3 years 10 months ago

Yep. I can’t believe some people were trying to make it a thing. What people will do for clicks I guess.
But there never was a chance the NBA would block it.
There is also no chance Love isn’t here for the next 4-5 years.

But people will continue to try to make it a story.

Hot Sauce
Guest
Hot Sauce
3 years 10 months ago

Interesting. But you would agree it is not analogous (or relevant) to this situation, right? It involves a very specific ruling related to a league rule that prohibits trading a player and a coach together. That has no relevance here because there is no coach involved in the trade,

To be clear, my main point is that I have not see any trade blocked for the reasons being discussed in the the Love deal – i.e. undocumented, alleged converstions between team and player. Never seen a trade blocked for such soft reasons.

nomad
Guest
nomad
3 years 10 months ago

I think in time ” the other Canadian ” powell will be just as good if not better than Bennett—-so in essence we traded wiggins for love —-not bad !!

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

Can’t say I agree with that at all. Bennett will be much better than Powell. Still a great trade for us, though!

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
3 years 10 months ago

This team is going to be awesome. There’s no way the league is going to block the trade. Zero. There’s also no way that Love doesn’t resign here. The Cavs would never trade Wiggins without knowing they are getting Love for 4-5 years. So please please please stop it with that?

I’m still hoping we get Allen.

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

Also, Cols – nobody said anything about Love not re-signing. Robert’s point is that the trade could be blocked if the league could prove that Love told us he would absolutely re-sign.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
3 years 10 months ago

There’s zero percent chance of this actually happening though. So I think we can quite thinking about it.

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

You don’t have to talk about issues if you choose not to, but every post from you is simply “this is the only way things are and nobody else should talk about any other scenario ever.”

Kind of ridiculous to say there’s a 0% chance that it could happen.

Cleveland just traded two #1 overall picks and a future #1 pick for a guy who can become a FA next year. To think they would do that without an assurance from him (either directly or through LeBron) is asinine. Therefore, it is entirely possible that Love did give Cleveland an assurance that he would re-sign.

Is there going to be proof? I highly doubt it. But I think we can all agree that it happened, so to say there’s a 0% chance the NBA catches Cleveland an Minnesota breaking the rules is extreme.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
3 years 10 months ago

There’s is zero chance. That’s the thing. There’s zero chance the NBA nixes this trade and there’s zero chance Love leaves. You may think there’s a chance, but there isn’t. It’s not worth talking about.

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

You’re not logical, Cols. Just because something won’t happen doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance. Use your head. You’re wrong.

Nate Smith
Admin
3 years 10 months ago

Care to put your money where your mouth is? I’ll bet you .01$ at 10,000:1 odds. Deal? And if you lose you’re only out $100…

Gordon
Guest
Gordon
3 years 10 months ago

I think this team has the parts to eventually become one of the greatest offensive teams in the history of the NBA. There is a lot of lineup flexibility and a lot of players – Kyrie, LeBron, Dion, Kevin – that could be the #1 option on a team.

Let’s not forget how Varejao blossomed under Scott and became a legitimate 15/15 guy and an All-Star (although injuries prevented him from actually being an All-Star). The guy was a pick ‘n pop FORCE, and I think he’s going to return to that again under Blatt. LeBron, Kevin, Kyrie, and Dion are all guys that can run the pick ‘n roll with AV. If he’s used properly, AV will be another big that HAS to be guarded. That could take this team from upper-echelon elite to unbeatable.

grover13
Guest
grover13
3 years 10 months ago

ESPN just put something out rating the top SGs in the league via WARP….they rate Dion#5 in the league. That’s ahead of guys like Tyreke Evans, Ginobli, Klay Thompson, and Kobe. Brad Beal wasn’t even in the top 10.

The Cavs legitimately have top-five players at their position in 4 of 5 spots on the court (eveything except center). Has any team- EVER- been able to put that together? I can’t think of one.

NYCav
Guest
NYCav
3 years 10 months ago

Delly-Waiters-Miller-Love-Varejao anyone? Swap Marion in for Miller if you need better D

I love this because it’s a great passing lineup even though neither the best passer in the world nor the starting PG are involved.

eldaveablo
Guest
eldaveablo
3 years 10 months ago

I really like thinking through the lineup scenarios that don’t involve LeBron. Nt to hate on LeBron, but it really makes me appeciate the depth and flexibiliy we have on the team. I’m geting so pumped for this year.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
3 years 10 months ago

Don’t forget to let James sit for a few minutes.

grover13
Guest
grover13
3 years 10 months ago

I like this one:

Delly-Waiters-James-Marion-Thompson

The all-run-all-the-time team.

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