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NBA Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers : Projected Starting Lineup And Record In 2012-13

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Projected Starting Lineup And Record In 2012-13

Cleveland Cavaliers
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

With the Cleveland Cavaliers set to open their season on October 30th against the Washington Wizards, thanks to a solid draft highlighted by Tyler Zeller, Dion Waiters and free agent pickups such as C.J. Miles from the Utah Jazz, the Cavaliers have a chance to make some noise in what will be a tightly contested race for a playoff spot in the East.

Cleveland, who would finish with a 21-45 record, look to take the next step towards relevance and respect in being competitive and even a possible sleeper in 2012-13.

With the departures of Antwan Jamison, Anthony Parker and Ramon Sessions, Cleveland will now look to young players such as Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Alonzo Gee to fill the leadership void.

Going into training camp, there are questions that need to be answered ranging from whether or not Irving will emerge into the next great young point guard to when Anderson Varejao will be moved by the All-Star break, if the Cavs are out of contention by that point.

With injuries to Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Cleveland has a chance to take advantage early and make a strong run towards the post-season.

This slideshow will cover the Cavs’ projected starting line-up that they will most likely use during the 2012-13 season, and also a projected record based on opponents, injuries and other variables.

With that in mind, let’s go!

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PG: Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

One of the smoothest ball-handlers in the NBA, the former Duke product has added five pounds of muscle to his 6’3, 192-pound frame to better handle the physical beatings he will endure in his second full season.

Irving, who would lead all rookies in points per game (18.5) en route to winning the 2011-12 NBA Rookie Of The Year Award.

For the Cavaliers to take the next step into contention, Irving will not only have to replicate his brilliant rookie season, but will also have to shoulder more of the leadership role, as he will be the un-disputed floor general in Byron Scott’s offense.

If Irving can find a way to avoid the injury bug and stay healthy, he will establish himself as one of the top five point guards not only in the East, but in the entire NBA.

Projected Stats : 22.4 points per game, 7.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals.

Projected Depth : Jeremy Pargo, Donald Sloan, Kevin Anderson

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SG: Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

A slashing, attacking shooting guard in the Dwyane Wade-type of mold, rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters may end up being Cleveland’s version of Oklahoma City Thunder sixth man, James Harden.

Waiters averaged 12.6 points off the bench for the Syracuse Orange in 24.1 minutes, looks to be the high-energy attacking “yang” to Irving’s smooth and polished “yin” in Cleveland’s backcourt.

Early reports out of training camp are that the slimmed down Waiters is not only better than advertised in the 2012 NBA Draft, but has the makings to be a legitimate threat on the wing next to Irving that can help solidify the Cavs backcourt for the next decade.

A streaky shooter at times, Waiters biggest strength is his ability to “rise to the top” and finish at the rim at will.

Something that Cleveland has not had since the days of Ron Harper and LeBron James, a player that can drive and finish at the rim like Waiters will prove to be a refreshing sight in Cleveland.

Projected Stats : 13.1 points per game, 4.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals

Projected Depth : Daniel Gibson, Kelenna Azubuike

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SF: Alonzo Gee

Cleveland Cavaliers
Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

Once a former D-League standout, the 6’6 219-pound small forward from Alabama would hit the jackpot in the off-season by inking a three-year $9.8 million deal and staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Gee, 25, averaged a career-best 10.6 points, 1.8 assists and 5.1 assists and 29.0 minutes in 31 starts for the Wine and Gold.

In re-signing with Cleveland, the Cavaliers have a plethora at small forward in free-agent signee, C.J. Miles, Luke Walton, Omri Casspi and veteran journeyman Kelenna Azubuike.

Projected as the starter at the three, Gee’s strong asset his his versatility in being able to play either at guard or small forward and his ability to shot from long distance as he would make 32.1 percent from three-point range, and shot 41.2 percent from the field.

Projected Stats : 13.9 points per game, 3.8 assists, 5.7 rebounds

Projected Depth : C.J. Miles, Omri Casspi, Luke Walton

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PF: Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

The former fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft out of Texas, the Canadian-born Tristan Thompson figures to be a big factor in how far the Cavaliers go in 2012-13.

In 60 games, the 6’9, 227-pound Thompson averaged 8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks.

Currently projected as the starting power forward ahead of Samardo Samuels and Jon Leuer, Thompson has reportedly added 10-15 pounds of muscle and has been working on a mid-range jumper in the off-season, in a effort to expand his offensive game.

If Thompson is able to improve on his shooting from the field (43.9 percent) and free-throw shooting (55.2 percent) Thompson could be primed for a breakout year.

Projected Stats : 12.1 points per game, 10.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 blocks

Projected Depth : Samardo Samuels, Jon Leuer, Kevin Jones

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C: Anderson Varejao

Anderson Varejao
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Known as “The Wild Thing” amongst Cavalier fans, Anderson Varejao is a local fan favorite thanks to his high energy, hustle and flair on the basketball court.

Staying on that court is a entirely different matter for the star-crossed Brazilian center.

Since the 2010-11 NBA season, Varejao has played in a combined 56 games and would miss over 40 games with a broken right wrist injury in 2011-12 season.

Before his injury, the 6’11, 260-pound Varejao was having a All-Star worthy season in posting 14 double-doubles and averaging 12.6 points and 11.6 rebounds.

Fully healed, Varejao looks ready to pick up where he left off so abruptly last year and establish himself as one of the best big men in the NBA.

Projected Stats : 14.8 points per game, 11.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 blocks

Projected Depth : Tyler Zeller, Michael Eric, Luke Harangody

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Conclusion : Expect Cavs to Contend For 8th Seed

Cleveland Cavaliers
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Based on the their off-season pickups and early projected lineup, Cleveland will compete in the East in 2012-13 and challenge for a playoff seed.

Miles, Gee, Leuer and rookie power forward Kevin Jones look to be sleepers and real steals as they will add quality depth to a young team such as Cleveland.

Bench players such as Samuels, Eric, Zeller will provide solid depth at center behind Varejao. Veterans such as Walton and Gibson will provide solid leadership and a steady hand as they have experience in playing in the post-season and NBA Finals.

One thing that many pundits are overlooking is the fact that head coach Byron Scott has helped develop point guards such as Chris Paul in New Orleans and worked with Jason Kidd in New Jersey.

In addition to winning three titles with the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers, has also guided another team to the NBA Finals, as he would lead the New Jersey—now Brooklyn Nets—to two NBA Finals appearances in 2001-02 and 2002-03 against the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

That being said, look for Scott to help mold Irving into the next great young point guard in 2012-13 and thanks to a combination of solid drafting and free-agency moves, look for Cleveland to sneak into the playoffs as a eighth seed.

Projected Record : 42-40 (8th in the East)