Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has been thinking long and hard about how to setup his deep & talented player rotation. One of the changes Lue is mulling over is starting Kevin Love at center. Lue has been running with a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, J.R. Smith, Lebron James, Jae Crowder and Kevin Love in training camp. Love talked briefly about the possibility of playing center (video).
Crowder has the ability to play power forward which would allow James to remain at the three position and Love to slide over to center. The 6-10 Love averaged 19 points and 11.1 rebounds per game last season. The NBA game has strayed from the prototypical 7’+ center and most teams are now using quicker and more athletic power forwards at the center position. Dwight Howard is one of the few conventional big men left in the game. Subbing Love for Tristan Thompson will weaken the post defense but will open up the offensive end and create more space on the floor. Love is also a strong outside shooter and will be able to draw the opposing centers out of the paint and open lanes for Lebron and Derrick Rose to attack the rim. Jae Crowder is a solid defender in both the post and on the wing who can also knock down outside shots.
The second team thus far in training camp has featured newly acquired Dwyane Wade running the point in a lineup with Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver, Jeff Green and Tristan Thompson. When Derrick Rose was signed the plan was for him to be the backup point guard behind Kyrie Irving. We all know what transpired from there. With the injury to Isaiah Thomas Rose will fill in as the starter until Thomas is ready to take the floor around late December or early January. Although Wade is accustomed to starting he is open to coming off the bench and is ready for whatever role coach Lue decides is best for him and the team.
“Me and Ty just talked about role,” Wade said. “We didn’t talk about starting or nothing like that. We just talked about what my role can be and pretty much what I’ve always done. I’m not focusing on starting at the 2. I’m not focusing on anything. I’m just focused on coming in here, learning the offense, continuing to be one of the guys and figure that Ty, he will figure everything out. It’s everybody’s job that has on a Cleveland jersey to be ready and prepare for whatever he decides.”
Starting Rose and Wade together in the backcourt would not be a good match considering neither player is a strong outside shooter or a strong defender. Pairing Rose and J.R. Smith gives the team a streaky but strong outside shooter in Smith who has also shown the ability to play solid perimeter defense. Wade gives the second unit a playmaker and veteran leadership. Once Isaiah Thomas is healthy and ready to play regular minutes you will most likely see Wade move to the starting two guard position while Rose and Smith slide to the second unit. This is certainly the deepest team the Cavs have put together in a long time. Tyronn Lue will have his hands full making it work but the end result could be a beautiful thing.