The Cleveland Cavaliers will be heading into the 2018-19 NBA season with the goal of defending their title as Eastern Conference champions. Despite losing LeBron James in the recent free agency, the Cavaliers made it clear that they have no intention of undergoing a full-scale rebuild. As of now, Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue is trying to make the best out of the current talents they have in Cleveland.
Weeks before the starting of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Cavaliers are yet to announce their official starting lineup. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland Plain Dealer, during their practice, George Hill, J.R. Smith, and Larry Nance Jr. were wearing wine-colored jerseys which were usually worn by starters. However, Coach Tyronn Lue revealed that only Kevin Love is assured of the starting role while the others will need to battle for positions. Love is set to be the Cavaliers starting power forward, while Sam Dekker will be his primary backup.
Regarding the starting center position, the competition will be between Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. Lue is planning to use Thompson over Nance Jr. when they play against NBA teams who have dominant centers like Dwight Howard, Joel Embiid, and Andre Drummond.
“Well, with Tristan (Thompson) and Larry (Nance Jr.) this season, when we play the bigger guys like the (Joel) Embids and Dwight Howards and (Andre) Drummonds, Tristan will start. When we play the smaller 5s, Larry will start. Last year it kind of wore Larry down trying to guard those big guys the whole game. That’s a lot to ask for him to guard Dwight and Drummond and all those big guys, it’s not fair to him, DeAndre Jordan and stuff like that. I talked to those guys before camp even started and kind of told them what the situation was.”
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) September 27, 2018
Unlike last season, Coach Tyronn Lue has no plan to use both J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver in their starting lineup. Most people see Smith keeping his role as the Cavaliers starting shooting guard, but members of the organization were reportedly taking a wait-and-see approach on Smith, especially after his poor performance in the past two seasons.
Should Rodney Hood manage to impress in the preseason, it is highly likely that he will be joining Kevin Love in the Cavaliers’ starting lineup. With LeBron James gone, the Cavaliers see Hood as their second-best scoring option. Meanwhile, George Hill and Collin Sexton are expected to battle for the role as the Cavaliers’ starting point guard next season.