Last year the forward position fluctuated quite a bit, usually due to injuries. Going into the offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted to address the issues at the forwards spot. With still time to go before the end of the season, there are still questions as to who will be the starters and key players for the Cavaliers at the three and four spots on the court.
At the small forward position, several questions remain. The starter for most of last season, Alonzo Gee with 31 starts, still is yet to sign a contract. He is a restricted free agent and Cleveland has made a qualifying offer, ensuring that it can match any offer made for Gee. He did not initially sign the offer, believing other teams may offer him something better that the Cavaliers would have to match, yet no other offer has come.
It is very likely that Gee will be back next season (unless another team comes in with a offer Cleveland feels is too much to pay for him) and should therefore be the starter on opening day. Gee set career highs in minutes, points, and assists per game last season and will look to have another quality year, to prove that was not a fluke and possibly attract higher offers as an unrestricted free agent next off season.
Behind Gee will likely be veteran small forward Luke Walton and third-year player Luke Harangody. Walton was acquired last year at the trade deadline as part of the Ramon Sessions trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. He went on to play 21 games for the Cavaliers, coming off the bench in all of them, averaging two points, one assist, and two rebounds in Cleveland. Harangody was back and forth between the Development League and the NBA while with the Cavaliers. He played 21 games, starting one, scoring three points per game and grabbing three rebounds.
While neither provide the type of depth at the position coach Byron Scott may like, they both do have some upside. Walton brings a lot of experience to a young Cleveland team and is also a willing passer. While he may not be a scoring machine, his ability to distribute will take some pressure off other players, such as Kyrie Irving. Harangody showed some potential while playing last year, including once leading the Cavaliers in scoring. He brings energy and toughness to the position, that is always important coming off the bench.
At the power forward position, there are also questions with the departure of Antawn Jamison. It would seem to make sense to play second-year player Tristan Thompson there, after he spent some of last year playing center for injured Anderson Varejao. Thompson had a good rookie year, especially the second half, averaging eight points and 6.5 rebounds per game. As he became a part of the starting lineup, the light seemed to go on for Thompson and he was dominate at some points, despite being undersized.
Behind him will likely be a combination of Omri Casspi, rookie Tyler Zeller, and Jon Leuer. Casspi had a successful first season as a Cavalier, scoring seven points per game and adding 3.5 rebounds. Despite those decent numbers, he put up better numbers his first two years in the NBA. If he can up his numbers, he could be a force off the bench. Zeller, a 7-footer, will likely also spend time at the center spot, but will help add size at times at the four spot. Erden Leuer was a rookie last year with the Milwaukee Bucks. While he only played in 46 games, he showed the energy and fundamentals usually associated with a former Wisconsin Badger.
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