Report: Cavs announce starting 5 for season opener vs. Raptors

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Caris LeVert reportedly has won the team’s starting small forward job and will be in the starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.

“Caris LeVert has emerged victorious in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ small forward battle,”’s Chris Fedor wrote.

“Sources tell that LeVert will be the team’s fifth starter for Wednesday’s opener against the Toronto Raptors — and the foreseeable future. LeVert will join Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the starting group, creating an explosive quintet with five scoring threats.”

LeVert certainly raises the offensive ceiling of the Cavs’ starting five. 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.

However, he really showcased his offensive prowess prior to being traded to the Cavs. When he was with the Indiana Pacers in the 2021-22 season, LeVert averaged 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.

LeVert was competing with Dean Wade and former first-round pick Isaac Okoro for the Cavs starting small forward position. The University of Michigan product won the job because of his all-around skill set.

“The Cavs also strongly believe in LeVert’s ability to defend the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer — a role he had early in his career with Brooklyn and one he accepted at various points over the final few months last season,” Fedor wrote. “LeVert seized the job in large part because he was the best offense-defense blend of the six options, the kind of two-way piece Cleveland felt it needed alongside the other four starters.”

The Cavs have two offensive stars in Garland and Mitchell in the starting lineup while Mobley and Allen are the team’s defensive anchors. There’s no doubt that LeVert, Okoro and others will be called upon to handle tough defensive assignments this season when the Cavs face an elite guard or wing player.

For LeVert, this is a culmination of a lot of hard work after he finished the 2021-22 season feeling disappointed in his game.

“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.”

The Cavs are hoping to make the playoffs this season with an improved roster following the Mitchell trade this offseason, LeVert will play a big role on offense and defense for Cleveland, and he could help get the team over the hump this season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.