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Monday, December 21, 2020

Debate This 2020-2021 Cleveland Cavaliers Alignment Chart

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 12:20 PM

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
Lawful Good: Larry Nance Jr.

An all-around team player and swell guy. Nance is likely to be among the top three Cavaliers in every countable statistical category outside of points this season. He's a mentor in the locker room, a "Swiss Army Knife" on the bench unit, and a stalwart member of the community. Nance recently announced an initiative where he'll wear apparel from Cleveland small businesses to every game this season to promote those that have struggled during the pandemic. King shit.

Neutral Good: Kevin Love

Openly regarded by his teammates and the coaching staff as the Cavs' best player, Love will continue to generate points for the offense, rebounds for the defense and long-distance outlet passes for the highlight reel all season long — assuming he avoids injury and/or trade. Love is the longest-tenured Cavalier and, (other than Delly), the only remaining member of the 2016 Championship squad. Off-court, he is a men's fashion icon and mental health advocate.

Chaotic Good: Andre Drummond

Why deny it? We all know that "Chaotic Good" is the premiere alignment and either wish or pretend that that's where we'd fall personally. Only very important people *who are also cool and righteous and defiant* get to be Chaotic Good. And that's Andre Drummond, the 6'11" UConn bruiser for whom the Cavaliers traded in a deadline deal last season that was scoffed at league-wide. Drummond is an expensive defensive powerhouse who has famously struggled at the free throw line and doesn't (or at any rate shouldn't) shoot threes. But the man can play. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has knighted Drummond the team's defensive anchor, and he can be counted upon to absolutely stuff the stat sheet night in and night out. Much has been made of his effortless soul-crushing block of the Pacers' Victor Oladipo in preseason play, but his offense, including crisp interior passing, has been exhilarating as well. His laser-beam assist to Darius Garland for a three-point shot was my second-favorite play of the entire preseason. It demonstrated, with all due respect, how much better and more versatile of a player he is than Tristan Thompson, last year's starting center. In general, Drummond brings vitality to the Cavs' woeful defense and personality to the locker room. He has also been taking vocal lessons during quarantine and is a diehard country music fan. Utter Chaotic Good energy. 

Lawful Neutral: Isaac Okoro

The rookie from Auburn is competing for the starting small forward role and will, in all likelihood, be an immediate defensive upgrade on the wing. Okoro is a fast learner and showed flashes of better-than-advertised shooting during preseason play. His memorable debut was capped off with a game-winning layup after a defensive stop. His legs' mighty musculature is visible each night when he descends into his defensive deep-crouch, and though at 6'6" he's not quite as physically imposing as some analysts declared on draft night, he already presents as a coach's dream player: a kind-hearted, high-motor athlete who does what he's told and is hungry to play defense. 

True Neutral: Cedi Osman

Is he the best player on the Cavs? Will he even crack the rotation? On any given night, either question may apply. Cedi is of course the nice chap from Turkey who has been annoyingly good-but-not-all-that-good during his three-year tour of duty. He is practically no one's favorite player and practically no one's least favorite player. He'll continue to befuddle on nights where he efficiently puts up 22-27 points, shooting with surgical precision from deep and slashing to the hoop with courage and speed, while on others totally disappearing on both ends of the floor and doing wacky shit like going 2-7 from the free throw line. This year, Cedi has taken the competition for the starting small forward job seriously and has looked like a good, veteran NBA player in two preseason outings. Imagine! Among other thing, he is sporting an improved three-point shot that could be a devastating weapon if it remains intact.

Chaotic Neutral: Collin Sexton

The Sex Man looked rusty as all get-out during his first, and the Cavs' last, preseason game against New York last week, but once he fine-tunes his mechanics and adrenaline levels, he should be right as rain. He concluded the aborted 2019-2020 season in splendid fashion, scoring better than 23 points per game and shooting lights out for more than two months straight. Despite his "Young Bull" honorific, the 2018 #8 overall pick remains largely overmatched on defense when guarding speedy opposing point guards or taller shooting guards, a weakness that becomes more glaring alongside his backcourt partner Darius Garland. But Sexton's specialty is scoring. There aren't many guys in the NBA who can squirrel their way to 20 points every night, and Sexton is one of them. He's still only 21 years old, and he put on significant muscle during quarantine. If he continues to improve ... watch out. 

Lawful Evil: Javale McGee

The very tall big man is still coming down from his championship high with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, but should easily be among the team leaders in blocked shots, even if he only plays 12-15 minutes per game. The Cavs got lucky when they traded bench warmers Alfonso McKinnie and Jordan Bell to the Lakers for McGee to facilitate one of LA's several offseason moves. Haters be damned. McGee is a perfect backup center. The question is, after his stint in L.A. and a run of success in the Western Conference, will he embrace a veteran leadership role on a Cleveland team whose ceiling might be the Eastern Conference play-in tournament? McGee's sorcerer vibes are amplified by the fact that, other than Kevin Love, he is the only current Cavalier born in the 1980s.

Neutral Evil: Kevin Porter Jr.

Last year, KPJ was considered the Cavs most exciting rookie. The front office managed to steal him with the final pick in the first round, where he'd fallen due to off-court concerns.  This year, he's already behind the eight ball after thorny legal proceedings stemming from a weapons charge in Mahoning County. (A firearm was found in a vehicle he'd crashed.) It's unclear how much Porter Jr. has practiced with the team, or for that matter how many times he's dribbled a basketball since March, but his availability for the Cavs opener is for the moment "unclear," per The team has been "purposefully vague" about his status. Fingers crossed.

Chaotic Evil: Matthew Dellavedova

Were he on any other team, we'd hate his guts.
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