Anticipating a starting five that can run with anybody

When the Cavaliers acquired Ramon Sessions I said at the time that I’d like to see him join Mo Williams in the starting back-court for the 2010-11 season rounded out by Antawn Jamison at the three, J.J. Hickson at the four, and Anderson Varejao at the five.  According to Brian Windhorst’s tweet this morning, he’s in agreement on four of those five: 

“My guess on starting lineup: M.Williams, Sessions, re-signed J.Williams, Hickson, Varejao”


What grabs most people’s attention there is the fact that Ramon Sessions is then a starter.  He unseats – so to speak – a guy in Anthony Parker that started just about every game at that position last season.  It certainly also raises the questions of how well two smaller guards will do when matching up against opposing two’s specifically on the defensive end.  As I said before, I’m fine with all that and will get more into that later.

The exciting part of this line-up to me though is at the four and the five positions.  If you really want to be an up-tempo team your bigs need to be able to run.  You can run some situationally with slower bigs, as the Cavaliers have in the past, but if you have guys who run the forty as fast as Zydrunas and Shaq do you’re not going to be running anybody out of the gym ever.  In a Byron Scott offense, he’s trying to get up and down the floor.  The Hickson / Varejao combo presents two post players with a skill-set definitely suited to do just that.

In fact I’d go one step further and argue that there isn’t a starting post playing tandem in the entire league who can keep up with Andy and J.J. in the open floor.  Sure they’ll need to get the rebound first, and hopefully they can each improve on the 7 and 5 rebounds per game they’ve averaged throughout their respective careers, but assuming they get the board it’s off and running.  Before I get too far though, by hopefully I mean definitely they will have to improve on those numbers.  Andy’s going to need to be up around 10 and Hickson will have to get up over 7, but let’s assume (hope) they do for the moment.  There’s 7 rebounds per game that’ve been vacated, and I don’t think combining to grab five of them is too much to ask.   

Besides the glass though, they will they have problems matching up defensively with the Dwight Howards, Pau Gasols, and Tim Duncans of the world too, absolutely.  But those opposing bigs aren’t going to want to get caught up in a track meet all night either.  Hopefully the Cavaliers could run those guys out of a rhthym some nights, and counteract that lack of size and strength with speed and easy buckets in transition.  I have to imagine that’s Byron Scott’s idea at least.  

I also like the idea of having two guys that can receive the outlet pass, with either guy being comfortble playing off the ball and looking to create for themselves as well in Ramon and Mo.  As a combo guard who can play some one, and some two, you have to think this is a situation that capitalizes on Mo Williams’ strengths specifically.  He should do will in this system, and the same can be said for Sessions.  If Sessions gets the outlet pass, Mo’s down the right sideline filling in at the two spot.  If Mo gets it, vice versa, and hopefully they have those two bigs out-running their defender alongside trailing the play.  

To be fair though, as much as I like the Cavaliers starting five (and even top-6 bringing Jamison off the bench as that scoring sixth man assuming Williams re-ups) in this newly orchestrated running game, they fall completely off the face of the earth after that.  I guess not completely at the guard spot, when you bring in Parker or Gibson, but there is no depth at the post position.  None.  Hopefully Leon Powe emerges as a guy that can play regular minutes on a nightly basis, but even if he does he’s not exactly equipped to excel in the running game.  If he doesn’t emerge though, there’s really nobody left.

Don’t look for it to be Ryan “Cement Hands” Hollins who steps up, because he is not very good.  In fact, at least up to now, he stinks.  After Hollins, who’s the only other guy listed as a center on the roster, you’re either going small with Joey Graham at the four spot, or hoping Samardo Samuels comes out of nowhere to be a rotation player as an undrafted rookie.  Not likely in the case of Samardo. 

But we have all year to worry about the back-ups.  For now, I’d simply like to mention the fact that this starting line-up, in this system, just might be a bit better than people think they will be this season.  They will certainly be able to run.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.