The Cavaliers have a new look this season, with the reigning Eastern Conference champs trading away All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving at his request and bringing in some new faces like Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Dwyane Wade.
LeBron James is still there, along with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, but the lineups the Cavs trot out on the floor in 2017-18 will look awfully different than the ones they’ve used in the past. For starters (pun intended), Love will play center with the starting unit and Thompson will come off of the bench to give Cleveland a different look and better spacing with their starting five.
Thompson is embracing his bench role, saying he’s gunning for the Sixth Man of the Year award this season, and he also seems excited about the new guards he will get to play with. Until Thomas is good to go, the point guard rotation in Cleveland will be by committee, with veterans Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Jose Calderon sharing the load (James will undoubtedly help out with the ball-handling needs as well).
Wade, who has played mostly shooting guard for his career, will run the point a fair bit in Cleveland and getting to have Wade as his running mate is very exciting for Thompson. As he explained on Monday night after a team scrimmage, it will open up his game as a roll man more than he got the chance to show last year in a not so subtle jab at his former point guard.
There have long been critiques of Kyrie Irving as a facilitator, and it’s obvious from this comment that Thompson wasn’t always thrilled with his involvement in the offense when Irving was on the floor. Noting that he hasn’t gotten a lob since Delly is probably a little harsh, but the message is clear. Playing as a part of the second unit will probably enhance Thompson’s offensive role, and considering his best attribute on that end of the floor is rolling to the rim and putbacks off offensive boards, it’s going to be important for the point guards with that unit to be willing to find him on lobs and rolls.