No. 3: The pieces are there, but how improved will the Cavs bench be in 2013-14?
Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers entered opening night with a second unit comprised of C.J. Miles, Luke Walton, Samardo Samuels and Tyler Zeller before later adding Shaun Livingston. This year, along with Miles and Zeller, the names now include Jarrett Jack, Alonzo Gee and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett. We'll leave the topic of Bynum's potential impact on this year's reserve unit for another day.
One would think the 2013-14 version is vastly improved. But in this league, nothing is quite that certain. On paper, the Cavaliers current second unit is clearly better than season ago. Gee slides into that role from the starting lineup last time around and Miles returns off a solid enough first year in Cleveland. The two players who could really propel this unit forward, though, are obviously Bennett and Jack.
When Bennett takes the floor with this bench bunch, he will have the benefit of playing alongside a collection of experienced vets. He won't have to force anything offensively and can let the game come to him, which is the perfect situation for the UNLV product. He will struggle initially, that much we've seen during the preseason, but his time will eventually come as his role increases with this group throughout the year.
With Miles, Gee and Zeller (pending his health) we pretty much know what we have in each player. Miles will put up 8-10 points per night with a chance of getting hot every now and then. Gee is what Gee is; he is just kind of there. He’s good for a big dunk here and there and brings some solid defense. Nothing too flashy.
Zeller, meanwhile, will really have to show some improvement if he wants to stay in the rotation once everyone is healthy. I see him as the fifth big man among the group of Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and a healthy Bynum and there will likely only be minutes for four bigs in Mike Brown's lineup as the season goes on.
The Ace in the Hole with this group is the “Jack” of all trades if you will; Jarrett Jack. When I saw this signing come across my Twitter feed, I instantly loved it. He is the perfect sixth man for this year's Cavaliers. He can play either guard position, brings playoff experience and can score the ball. This is a very similar situation to what Jack played in last season in Golden State: a young star point guard, with his equally young backcourt partner on a team with playoff aspirations.
Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters have a great mentor in Jack, something they haven’t really had since they entered the league. Just the addition of Jack alone makes this group an intriguing one. Making all the pieces work together, now that’s just another thing on Mike Browns to-do list.