Report: Starting small forward slot for Cavs is Caris Levert’s to lose

Caris LeVert Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Caris LeVert will get the first crack at the team’s starting small forward spot ahead of the 2022-23 regular season.

“While Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has about two weeks to decide on his fifth starter for this upcoming season, swingman Caris LeVert will get the first shot,” Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor wrote.

“Sources tell cleveland.com that LeVert, who has spent a lot of time working with the starting group throughout training camp and was wearing the wine-colored starter’s jersey at shootaround earlier in the day, will start at small forward in Wednesday’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.”

The Cavs have a few options at the small forward position, including youngster Isaac Okoro, but it appears the veteran LeVert has the upper hand at this point.

LeVert averaged 13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 19 games with the Cavs in the 2021-22 regular season.

It wasn’t exactly what the team expected from him when he was acquired in a trade with the Indiana Pacers, as LeVert was averaging 18.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from beyond the arc for Indiana when the Cavs traded for him.

However, with Donovan Mitchell now in the fold for the Cavs, LeVert won’t have as much pressure on him to score at a high level. He’s already spoken about how he wants to improve in the 2022-23 season after being disappointed with his play last season.

“After the season, honestly, I was disappointed,” LeVert said. “It was like, I had never really felt like that about basketball before. I didn’t lose any confidence. I was just disappointed in how the season ended and how I was playing. So it was like, I don’t know, I really felt like, not even something to prove to other people, it was kind of something I wanted to just prove to myself that I could still be myself or I could still get better because I feel like I’ve gotten better every year. And I just felt like last year I kind of took a step back.”

After trading away Lauri Markkanen in the deal for Mitchell, the Cavs have several players competing for the starter slot in the rotation including Okoro, Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, Dean Wade and Dylan Windler.

LeVert likely gives the Cavs the biggest offensive ceiling of the group, especially playing alongside Darius Garland and Mitchell. The Cavs still have elite defenders like Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley to protect the paint, which should help the team compete for a top playoff spot in the East this season.

After making the play-in tournament last season, Cleveland is hoping to take a major leap with a full season of LeVert and Mitchell also on the roster in the 2022-23 campaign.

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