2013-14 NBA Season Preview Player Power Rankings for Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the 2013-14 season with a playoff buzz for the first time in years.
Now with All-Stars at point guard and center, the Cavs have also loaded up on their overall team depth.
Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark were all signed to complement the Cavs young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson.
The NBA draft brought forth the likes of Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix. Head coach Mike Brown now heads the task of combining all his pieces into what we can only assume will be a very defensive puzzle.
With the roster now set at the maximum 15 players, here's how every individual Cavalier stacks up, preseason edition.
15. Carrick Felix, SG/SF
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 13th ⇓
Felix hasn't produced much offensively thus far this preseason, and that's ok. He's a scrappy defender who gets after the ball and uses his length and athleticism to disrupt passing lanes.
14. Matthew Dellavedova, PG
Pre-Training Camp Rank: NR
"Delly" has made Cavs' roster as the third point guard. Plays with good instinct and vision, but will be over-matched against majority of NBA guards.
13. Henry Sims, C
Pre-Training Camp Rank: NR
Sims has played well in the preseason, and could see minutes early with Andrew Bynum out.
Former Georgetown Hoya who does a lot of nice things but features a very limited ceiling.
12. Tyler Zeller
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 11th ⇓
Zeller is having a rough start to his year.
After falling and hurting his hip in the Wine and Gold scrimmage, Zeller had to have an emergency appendectomy on October 12th which will likely keep him out another month.
11. Alonzo Gee, SG/SF
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 10th ⇓
Gee missed the Cavaliers first two preseason games with a strained hamstring. His drop is a result of strong efforts from both C.J. Miles and Sergey Karasev.
10. Earl Clark, SF
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 8th ⇓
Clark has seemingly been trying his best to lose the starting small forward job.
He's struggled with his shot thus far, both in and outside of the arc. In seven preseason games, Clark is shooting just 38.9 percent from the field and 22.2 percent on three-pointers.
While the Cavs didn't bring Clark in for his scoring, his shot will have to improve to keep a starting job.
At 6'10", he represents the best size among the other starting candidates, and offers more defensive potential because of it.
Hopefully Clark is just getting comfortable with his new teammates for now and will settle into his jumper as the Cavs begin the regular season.
9. Sergey Karasev, SG/SF
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 12th ⇑
Karasev is a slight riser in the rankings thanks to the missed time of Alonzo Gee and struggles of Earl Clark.
That's not to say the Russian rookie hasn't done some nice things, either.
Karasev was brought in to be a sniper from beyond the arc, but his shot has looked shaky thus far. He's shooting 33.3 percent from the field early on, and while just a small percentage are falling, his shot does look smooth coming out.
His playmaking has been a pleasant surprise, and Karasev's alley-oop to fellow rookie Anthony Bennett against the Milwaukee Bucks was one of the many bright spots of the game.
Karasev is guaranteed a roster spot, and is essentially doing all he can to earn minutes right now.
At just 20, it's clear playing in the Russian league has helped mature his game quickly.
8. C.J. Miles, SG/SF
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 9th ⇑
Miles had a nice preseason, and looks more comfortable now in his second year with the Cavaliers.
Despite coming off the bench, Miles was third on the team in scoring with 12.0 points a game. He's a gifted shooter and scorer who looks like a natural fit alongside playmakers like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
Miles is a better shooter than his competitors Alonzo Gee and Earl Clark, even if he doesn't possess their athleticism or size.
If he proves to Mike Brown he can defend, however, Miles could make a case for the starting small forward job.
7. Jarrett Jack, PG/SG
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 6th ⇓
Jack drops one spot in the rankings, more so because of the man's performance directly in front of him.
While his shot has been off in the early going (35.0 percent from the field), Jack is second on the team in assists behind Kyrie Irving.
Jack also had the best pass of the season thus far, with a behind-the-back dime to a trailing Anthony Bennett for an easy dunk against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Some inflammation in his knee caused Jack to miss half of the team's preseason games, but Jack should be healthy to begin the season. He'll see a lot of time on the court with Irving, Dion Waiters, and perhaps both at times when the Cavs go small. His leadership will be invaluable to the young Cavaliers this season, as will his experience in the postseason.
Make no mistake, the Cavaliers need Jack to reach the playoffs this year.
6. Anthony Bennett, PF
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 7th ⇑
Bennett has had an up-and-down start to his professional career.
Seemingly struggling to get back to game speed following shoulder surgery, Bennett had a poor shooting night against the Milwaukee Bucks before going all NBA Jam against the Orlando Magic in a second half surge.
In the preseason, Bennett is the Cavaliers fifth-leading scorer (9.4 points) and third-best rebounder (5.4). The shot is still a little shaky, but we're already seeing the reasons Chris Grant liked Bennett over all the other players in the draft.
Bennett is currently playing at 250 pounds, up eight from his playing weight at UNLV. Once he get his body fat trimmed a bit and his legs back under him, Bennett should be a force against other teams second-string.
5. Anderson Varejao, C
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 2nd ⇓
Varejao drops in the rankings, and yes, that's extremely unfair.
The rational for this being that the other players around him have stepped up to the point that Varejao doesn't need to put up the 14.1 points a game he was scoring last year.
Chipping in just 5.7 points a contest this preseason is either a very good or very bad sign for the Cavaliers. The last time Varejao was on the court, the team very well couldn't rely on Dion Waiters or Tristan Thompson for offense yet.
Things can change in a year.
Now with so many other scoring options around him, Varejao can go back to doing what he does best. Rebounding, defending and hustling for every 50-50 ball is what makes him so special and valuable to the Cavaliers.
4. Dion Waiters, SG
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 5th ⇑
Waiters should be on everyone's list of breakout players this season.
Everything about his body and his game looks improved from a year ago, a great sign that he's motivated and dedicated to his craft.
Waiters is not only scoring this preseason (10.5 points in 21.6 minutes), he's doing it with great efficiency (42.9 percent on three-pointers).
Having Waiters as a reliable shot and playmaker is so valuable for the Cavs. This gives Kyrie Irving the flexibility to spot up some plays, where he's proven to be a lethal shooter. Waiters should also benefit by being around Jarrett Jack and all of the knowledge and experience he brings to the table.
Look for Waiters to have a big year and be knocking on the door to becoming an All-Star in the near future.
3. Tristan Thompson, PF
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 4th ⇑
Thompson came into training camp in great shape and has already displayed his new and improved right-handed shot.
Putting up a strong preseason stat line of 12.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, Thompson isn't about to let Anthony Bennett take his starting job anytime soon.
In fact, it was Thompson who talked to Bennett before his second half outburst against the Orlando Magic that provided the rookie with some confidence and motivation.
He's proven to not just be a good young player, but a great teammate as well.
Thompson is a critical part of the Cavs, and his future at the power forward spot with Bennett will be very interesting to watch.
2. Andrew Bynum, C
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 3rd ⇑
Although he hasn't played a game yet, Bynum moves up this list based on his amazing potential and weight he's lost since signing with Cleveland.
It's clear Bynum has been working hard to get back into game shape for the Cavaliers. His upper body is massive, but still shows the defined muscle you'd like to see from a guy coming off major surgery.
Bynum and Kyrie Irving together should be good for 40 points a night, and prevent defenses from double-teaming the other consistently.
There's still no timetable for Bynum's return, so Cleveland will have to continue to be patient.
1. Kyrie Irving, PG
Pre-Training Camp Rank: 1st ↔
No where to go but down for Irving on this list.
The Cavaliers star point guard put together a cool 16.5 points and 5.1 assists in 25.4 minutes of preseason action. It's still too early to tell if the defense is much improved, but Irving and Dion Waiters did hold Milwaukee Bucks' guards O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight to 4-18 shooting from the field in their first preseason game.
For Irving, it must have been a weird and wonderful sight to see someone else lighting it up in the fourth quarter like Anthony Bennett did against the Orlando Magic. With Bennett, Waiters, Thompson and eventually Bynum, there is a lot less pressure on Irving to carry the team this season.
Irving should concentrate on his defense, distributing of the ball and overall leadership while still dropping in a bucket here and there.
After all, good players lead themselves to the All-Star team. Great ones lead their team to the playoffs.