A Potential Cavaliers Starting 5 With Lauri Markkanen

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Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against Cedi Osman #16 of the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center on January 27, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cavaliers defeated the Bulls 104-101.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to rebuild their roster, this time adding former first-round pick Lauri Markkanen in a three-team sign-and-trade deal last week.

The 7-foot Finnish forward provides the Cavaliers with a stretch-big to space the floor around Jarrett Allen and this year’s No. 3 overall draft pick Evan Mobley.

Cleveland stood among the worst shooting teams in the NBA last season.

The Cavaliers checked in among the bottom third of the league in field goal percentage (25th, 45.0), three-pointers made (29th, 730), and in three-point percentage (30th, 33.6).

Adding Markkanen helps in that area specifically.

“We are extremely fortunate as an organization to be in a position to acquire another young and talented player with the skill-set of Lauri Markkanen,” said Cleveland general manager Koby Altman.

Now, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff needs to assemble a workable starting lineup from his current roster.

 

Markkanen May Not Start Right Away 

Not only did the Cavaliers ink their incumbent center to a $100 million deal this offseason, they also added a top-3 big man that needs to play right away.

By all accounts, Allen and Mobley should be the anchors in Cleveland’s starting lineup.

But the team also sports five-time All-Star power forward Kevin Love on the roster.

Now, they landed a player in Markkanen who slots into those positions.

Although only 24 years old, Markkanen is coming off his worst season as a pro.

He fell out of the starting lineup in Chicago after being a staple there for the Bulls in his first three seasons.

Markkanen finished 2021 playing a career-low 25.8 minutes per game, posting averages of 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds, which were also career-lows.

This seems to indicate that while the Cavaliers have notable shooting woes, Markkanen might not immediately be a starter in Cleveland.

Ironically, Markkanen seemed like a good fit for what they’re building in Chicago with Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic.

Markkanen’s arrival provides depth in Cleveland and gives Mobley someone who can show him the intricacies of the pick-and-pop game.

 

Cavaliers Potential Starting Lineup

Bickerstaff enters the 2021-22 season with a number of options for his starting lineup.

The Cavaliers made several moves this offseason to augment their roster in hopes of taking a significant step forward.

Although there have been rumors swirling around his name, Collin Sexton seems entrenched on the perimeter in Cleveland.

Sexton posted career-highs in points (24.3) and assists per game (4.4), as well as field goal percentage (47.5).

He has started all but 10 of the 207 games he has appeared in for Cleveland, so the Cavaliers starting lineup will absolutely feature Sexton if he’s in uniform.

However, who starts beside him is something of question mark.

Cleveland acquired veteran point guard Ricky Rubio this offseason, and he would do well organizing the offense alongside Sexton.

But Darius Garland also deserves a starting spot, given his draft pedigree and improvement.

Garland, though, would also do well as a scoring sixth man in Cleveland.

The remainder of the starting lineups should see second-year swingman Isaac Okoro alongside Allen and Mobley.

Cedi Osman seems best suited for a reserve role and would pair well with Markkanen coming off the bench.

Assuming Love remains on the roster, it’s unlikely the veteran forward stays in the starting lineup.

Cleveland needs to evaluate the talent it has on the roster, and that only comes through playing time.



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