Size does matter in the NBA, and right now the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have a whole lot of it.
With 6-11 forward/center Anderson Varejao out for six to eight weeks while he recovers from knee surgery, the Cavaliers are starting rookie forward/center Tyler Zeller and second-year forward Tristan Thompson in the post. The two young players are both doing well, but the team doesn’t really have many other options of players who are ready to come in and give the starters a break.
Zeller, who is 7-0, and Thompson, who is 6-9, both play hard and do a lot of good things, but they are far from being polished post players just because they are so young. They both rebound well and can score, but neither is a solid post-up scorer yet and they are both still finding their ways at times on offense and defense.
But while they are still adapting to the NBA game, they are really the only big guys the Cavaliers have on the roster who have been consistent contributors this season now that Varejao is out again.
Forward Luke Walton is 6-8, but he is more of a small forward. Similarly, forward Omri Casspi is 6-9, but he also plays more like a small forward who likes to shoot outside and sometimes cut to the rim. Casspi and Walton have both played sparingly this season, too.
Forwards Jon Leuer, who is 6-10, and Kevin Jones, who is 6-8, have both played even less this season. Both have played in the NBA D-League, but they may get the chance to get some more minutes and prove themselves now.
Forward Samardo Samuels got significant minutes the Cavaliers during the last two seasons, but the team waived him earlier this month.
So basically, the Cavaliers are going to see what Leuer and Jones can do, and they are going to hope that Walton and Casspi can help inside. It doesn’t sound like much of a recipe for success, but the team has got to hope that someone will step up to provide some support to Zeller and Thompson inside.
Management could also be planning to bring in more players who are getting experience in the D-League or make a trade, but its unlikely that any big significant big guys are coming anytime soon to help out the Cavaliers.
The real answer may be to push the ball more and play more of an uptempo game that emphasizes the excellent guards that the Cavaliers have. This team has plenty of problems to overcome, and Varejao’s absence creates a huge void inside. It will be interesting to see who steps up in his absence over the next few weeks.