By J. Cole
Alongside O'Neal, the other key players the Cavaliers acquired were Jamario Moon from Miami, Anthony Parker from Toronto and second-round draft pick Danny Green. With these added wing players, the Cavaliers should be more flexible on the defensive end to match up against the Magic and Celtics for the Eastern conference crown. More will also be expected from Mo Williams this year in the backcourt alongside Delonte West (assuming his gun arrest doesn't affect his status for the season). With Anderson Varejao signed to a new long-term deal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas now backing up O'Neal at the center position, the Cavaliers feature a deep front court, and Moon's addition will add versatility and defense. Because James wants to test the free-agent market this summer, look for the Cavaliers to finish what they started and make a serious run at a championship.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Ilgauskas is in line for a different role this season. He'll be backing up O'Neal thus giving him the opportunity to play largely against second teamers. Ilgauskas should continue to be a decent threat on the offensive end, and with fewer minutes, he should also have more energy to block shots while he's on the floor, though his totals could still suffer with the reduced opportunity.
Anderson Varejao: Now that the contract issues are behind him and he has moved into the starting lineup, Varejao should improve on the nine double-doubles he logged last season. Varejao will contribute in four main categories; rebounds, steals, blocks and field-goal percentage, but he's no more than a role player for your fantasy team as any low-post offense will typically run through Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Jamario Moon: Moon will be welcomed with open arms in Cleveland. His combination of length, quickness and athleticism is exactly what the team was missing when Orlando's perimeter forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis ran circles around Cleveland's plodding defenders. Moon will also take advantage of James' play-making ability for multiple put-backs and dunks. From a roto perspective, the biggest impact for Moon will be on the defensive end, mainly concentrating in the steals and the blocks category. Although, Moon will spend a lot of his time playing behind James, he will also get opportunities when the Cavaliers go with a small ball approach. Moon should be one the league's top sixth men with the fantasy numbers to back it up.
J.J. Hickson: He's a former first-round pick that the Cavaliers are still high on. The problem now is finding him more minutes. With the Cavaliers in championship mode that may be tough, especially after the acquisitions of Shaquille O'Neal and Jamario Moon. Hickson will be a part of the rotation, but it may just be spot duty as in making sure the front court keeps out of foul trouble. If someone does go down, Hickson will have a nice opportunity, especially in the rebounding area.
Jawad Williams: Williams will be battling his former Tar Heel colleague, rookie Danny Green. It's going to be tough making the team, let alone cracking the rotation. As of now he sits third on the depth chart at small forward.
Danny Green: Green will have a role mirroring Jamario Moon's. Green will see limited action, but his youthfulness along with the multiple facets of his game will make for some spot duty as the season progresses.
Darnell Jackson: Jackson broke his wrist early in the season last year, so that really hampered his growth. Jackson's game is mainly based on strength in the low post. He mainly will get his work banging against O'Neal and Big Z in practice.
Leon Powe: Powe is the real wild card here. He's coming off a torn ACL and the dreaded micro-fracture surgery. He's not even going to hit the court until February at the earliest. If he does contribute it would be down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Delonte West: West should continue to provide Cleveland with that extra offensive pop. What will keep West on the floor likely will not be his clutch shooting and nice decision making, but rather his on ball defense of the NBA's elite two-guards. West however, looks to lose some of his playing time to the newly acquired Anthony Parker, and could see a league-imposed suspension for a gun arrest in September.
Anthony Parker: Parker's 6-6 frame is something Cleveland really needs especially on the defensive end. Parker shoots the ball pretty well from long range and from the charity stripe. You can expect Parker to back up both Delonte West and LeBron James at the shooting guard and small forward spots, respectively.
Daniel Gibson: Gibson will maintain his backup role at point guard - however, the acquisition of Anthony Parker may cut into his minutes a little this season. Gibson should be a decent long-range threat. The question is how many opportunities he will actually get.
Article first appeared on 10/1/09