Cleveland Cavaliers Position Breakdown: Small Forward

Oct 30, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Earl Clark (6) attempts a shot over Brooklyn Nets small forward Paul Pierce (34) and center Brook Lopez (11) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

As the Cleveland Cavaliers season approaches, it’s time to look at how the Wine & Gold currently stack up at every position. This breakdown, the third of six, looks at the point guard position.

The Rundown

Position: Small Forward

Starter: Earl Clark

Key Reserve(s): Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles

Other Players under contract: Sergey Karasev, Anthony Bennett

I hate going into a new season without knowing who our permanent small forward is going to be. At this day and age in the NBA, you need to have a defined three to lead your team. The Cavaliers currently have no players who can fit the bill because they chose not to go with a pure small forward in the draft, again. Development, however, will be pivotal this season if we’re going to have any hope of having a solid starting five at some point this season. At least that’s what the hope is.

Whether that is Clark or Gee or even Miles at times won’t matter, because we already know that the Cavs are looking to the future for a starting three, and with the guys behind Clark and Gee not being true small forwards, I don’t know how much playing time we can expect to see from these other guys at the three. This is, however, the thinnest position for a reason.

Strengths

Earl Clark provides good size matchups as a starting three and Alonzo Gee is known for his energy and man-to-man defense off the bench, so I think as long as these two players can fill these two specific roles as threes — because I do think that Clark deserves the starting nod over Gee – then Cleveland will be able to get through this season without too much frustration at this position. Going into this season, last season and every season since LeBron left, the main question has been, “Who are the Cavaliers going to get to be a permanent starting three know that our best player is gone?”

I’ve always been in love with the Gee-bench marriage that existed when Omri Casspi was our starter under Byron Scott. After a putrid start to the season, Gee eventually replaced Casspi as the starter, but his stats didn’t change that much. Whether he’s on the bench or getting 30 minutes a night as a starter, he’s going to give you, on a good day, 10 points and four rebounds regardless. Cleveland should utilize this, and see what they can make of Clark as the starter.

Weaknesses

The Cavaliers made somewhat of an attempt to “beef up” the small forward position on their roster, but had to do so via free-agent signings because the team opted to not draft a true three with the No. 1 overall draft pick, or any of their draft picks for that matter. I think Sergey will see more time as a backup two than a three, and the same goes for Miles. Bennett, as we’ve discussed many times before on this site, will not be seeing much time at the three according to his coaches.

That leads me to saying that depth is the biggest weakness for the Cleveland Cavaliers at small forward. It’s a no-brainer. I think there will be a lot of experimentation with this position, leading the Cavaliers to lock down a potential star SF free agent signing for the offseason. Not much of a gamble was taken on Clark, but he has yet to prove he can be a consistent wing scorer in this offense. We will see, but his long-range game isn’t anything special. Gee was one of the worst corner three shooters in the NBA last season, so I think the bench is the best place for him to limit the volume of shots he’ll be taking this season. But with not many minutes being logged at this position this season, look for Gee to still see significant court time even though he won’t be starting the season in the starting rotation. This doesn’t bode well for the Cavs.

Conclusion

Again, this is the murkiest position on the roster, and watching guys like Harrison Barnes and Otto Porter this season will be an even more painful experience if my predictions hold true for the Cavs. They will be exposed by top SFs in the Eastern Conference like LeBron and Paul George. Because of this, we will see this position exposed, especially from the perimeter, in many matchups in 2013-14.

Topics: Alonzo Gee, Cleveland Cavaliers, Earl Clark

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