Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach Byron Scott made a bold move on Wednesday night, choosing to start C.J. Miles over rookie Dion Waiters.
On the surface the move seems a little questionable, but it was the right decision.
The Cavaliers came into the game with a record of just 7-25, so really just about any change in the lineup could be justified. No player should “deserve” to keep a starting lineup spot when the team has only won 7 of its 32 games.
Waiters is a solid rookie and he looks like he can be a very good, if not great player in time. Right now, though, he is playing well but is still finding his way.
In addition, Miles has been playing much better over the last few weeks and Scott must believe that Miles can be a steady presence for the starting lineup, especially when it is so young. With veteran forward/center Anderson Varejao out with injuries, the Cavaliers have often been starting two rookies in Waiters and Tyler Zeller, and two second-year players in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. The fifth starter has been Alonzo Gee, who also does not have a great deal of NBA experience.
Moving Miles into the starting lineup for now at least gives the Cavaliers a starter with a little more experience.
Also, moving Waiters to the bench adds an explosive scorer and more energy to the second unit. Waiters is still taking some bad shots and is forcing shots at times, but he can generate offense and spark the second unit.
Scott said recently that while Waiters is doing a lot of good things, he needs to improve on offense and defense. Scott pointed out that he especially needs to learn to take better shots and move better without the ball. Hopefully, he can keep improving while he is on the second unit.
The signing of veteran guard Shaun Livingston also gives Waiters an experienced guard to play with on the second unit, and that should also help his progress.
In the debut of the new starting lineup on Wednesday, Waiters seemed to excel and still got plenty of minutes coming off of the bench. In fact, he played more than 29 minutes, which was more than Miles played.
Waiters shot 8 for 19 from the field, including 1 for 4 from three-point range, and scored 20 points. He also recorded 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal.
Miles, meanwhile, started off the game great in his new role and then his production faded. Miles scored 12 points in the first quarter, but then did not score for the rest of the game. He shot 4 for 13, including a terrible 1 for 7 from three-point range, and pulled down 2 rebounds.
It’s impossible to know how this new lineup will work out, and it will be interesting to see how long Scott sticks with it. For now, though, it looks like the right move and it will hopefully lead to some improvement and a few more wins for the Cavaliers.