CLEVELAND, Ohio – A new NBA season has arrived, and the Cavaliers have a fresh batch of story lines as the season begins.
The Cavaliers hired former Michigan coach John Beilein in May, and drafted Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr., in June. With a new system in Cleveland and new faces, the Cavs will go through some growing periods.
Here is a preview of the Cavs’ coaching staff and roster, with descriptions and information on every member of the team.
Years coaching in the NBA: Zero – This is Beilein’s first season coaching in the league. He spent the last 12 years as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.
Before coming to Cleveland: Beilein has been a head coach throughout his career, and he began his Division I career at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. Beilein coached at Richmond for five seasons and at West Virginia for the same amount of time.
During his college career, Beilein went to 13 NCAA Tournaments, nine while at Michigan. Beilein helped lead the Wolverines to two NCAA championship games. In 2013, the Wolverines lost to Louisville. In 2018, they lost to Villanova.
Things to know: Beilein’s offense is a two-guard front without distinction between “point” and “shooting,” designed to create optimal space for each player. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland appear to have potential sharing the backcourt, and Garland seems to be the better ball handler/playmaker. While the roster boasts considerable guard talent, there’s limited frontcourt depth.
Big man Ante Zizic (plantar fasciitis) is out for about four weeks. John Henson has suffered groin and ankle injuries. After the Cavs’ preseason finale, Beilein spoke about the Cavs’ struggles. Two days after the preseason finale loss, Beilein spoke on how he and his coaching staff will continue to adapt. The Cavs are in the heart of a rebuilding process that will take time.
Career coaching record: 571-325 (.637)
Fun fact: While at West Virginia, Beilein coached Cavs assistant general manager Mike Gansey for two seasons. Gansey was the Mountaineers’ second-leading scorer during the 2005-06 season, averaging 16.8 points a game.
Years coaching in the NBA: Bickerstaff has three years of head coaching experience, and 14 years as an assistant or associate head coach.
Before coming to Cleveland: Bickerstaff was hired as the associate head coach in May. He was Memphis’ head coach the past two seasons, and led the Houston Rockets for 71 games during the 2015-16 season after the firing of Kevin McHale. Bickerstaff has been an assistant in Charlotte, Minnesota and Houston.
Things to know: Bickerstaff has a reputation as a defensive expert, and the Cavs need to improve on that end. Last season, they were last in opponent field goal (two-point and three-point) percentages. Cleveland was also 18th in points allowed. Per Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders, Jordan Clarkson said after practice recently that Bickerstaff still has more of his defensive schemes to show during the regular season.
Career coaching record: 85-131 (.394)
Fun Fact: When Bickerstaff became head coach of the Grizzlies in 2018, he and his father Bernie became the first black father and son to be full-time NBA head coaches, per ESPN’s Marc Spears.
Years coaching in the NBA: Lang has spent five seasons as an assistant.
Before coming to Cleveland: The Cavs hired Lang as an assistant in June. During the past five years, Lang was in Utah. Lang has also been the head coach for Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins of Japan’s National Basketball League (NBL). He led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2014.
Things to know: Lang will reportedly be in the second assistant chair with Cleveland. When Lang was brought on, Cavs general manager Koby Altman praised how Lang has experience with three playoff seasons in Salt Lake City.
Fun fact: Lang played six seasons in the NBA, including three with the Cavs. Lang played 115 games with Cleveland, and he averaged 2.6 points on 46.1% shooting, with 1.5 rebounds a game.
Years coaching in the NBA: Geriot debuted as an assistant coach last season, and he also engaged in player development.
Before coming to Cleveland: Geriot played four seasons at Richmond, averaging 10.4 points per game and 4.1 rebounds. Geriot helped lead the Spiders to two NCAA Tournaments and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011. After his playing career, Geriot was an assistant coach at Princeton from 2011-13, and an assistant coach at Campbell from 2013-15.
Things to know: Geriot has been climbing the ranks with Cleveland since 2015-16, when he started as a seasonal video coordinator. From 2016-18, Geriot worked as an assistant video coordinator and coaching assistant.
Fun fact: While Geriot was an assistant with Princeton, Cavs GM Koby Altman was an assistant at Columbia. Geriot’s former Richmond teammate Kevin Hovde had worked with Altman at Columbia. When Altman was Cleveland’s Director of Pro Player Personnel, he offered Geriot the position to be a seasonal video coordinator for the 2015-16 season.
Years coaching in the NBA: This will be Gottlieb’s first season on an NBA bench, hired as an assistant coach in June.
Before coming to Cleveland: Gottlieb worked the last eight years as the University of California, Berkeley women’s basketball head coach. During her time at Cal, Gottlieb led the Golden Bears to seven NCAA Tournaments, including the program’s first Elite Eight and Final Four in 2013. Gottlieb has the second-most career wins (179) in program history. Before that, Gottlieb was the California-Santa Barbara women’s head coach from 2008-11. Gottlieb was an assistant at Syracuse, New Hampshire, Richmond and Cal.
Things to know: When she was hired, Gottlieb became the first women’s college basketball head coach to be recruited to the NBA. Gottlieb wrote about joining the Cavs in The Players’ Tribune, and touched on how she had dreamed about coaching in the NBA. In a story with cleveland.com, Gottlieb spoke of how she felt Cleveland was the right fit, noting how she appreciated Beilein, Altman and the Cavs’ values. With Gottlieb’s success in building a winning culture at Cal, she should be integral for a young team going through a rebuild.
Career coaching record: 235-128
Fun fact: Gottlieb regularly visited Golden State Warriors practices as a guest of general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr. She has also gone to Los Angeles Clippers training camp.
Years playing in the NBA: Clarkson is entering his sixth season.
Before coming to Cleveland: Clarkson began his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 14.3 points on 44.2% shooting in four seasons. Clarkson was traded with Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavs during the 2017-18 season. Before his NBA career, Clarkson played two seasons at Tulsa and one at Missouri.
Things to know: Beilein has identified Clarkson as a “wolf” in the offense because of his ability to score in a multitude of ways. Clarkson has proven to be one of the league’s best scorers off the bench. With the Cavs’ many guards, Beilein has talked about Clarkson seeing time at small forward. At 6-foot-5, Clarkson would struggle to defend bigger foes. Still, his scoring ability should continue to provide a spark.
Key stat: Clarkson averaged 16.8 points off the bench in 81 games last season, the second-most on the team. Kevin Love, who played 22 games, led with 17.0 points a game.
Fun fact: Clarkson’s favorite sport as a kid was soccer.
Years playing in the NBA: Cook is in his rookie season.
Before coming to Cleveland: Cook was with the Denver Nuggets before the Cavs claimed him off waivers Friday. Cook played three seasons at Iowa, and had career averages of 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Cook ranked 13th in the Big Ten last season in scoring, eighth in rebounds and was named to the All-Big Ten second team last season.
Things to know: Cook is on a two-way deal, which means he’ll spend most of the season with the Canton Charge. Still, Cook could play a role in the big man rotation to begin the season. Though Cook can only spend up to 45 days with the Cavs, that time frame doesn’t begin until Oct. 28, the start of the G League season.
Key stat: Cook led the Hawkeyes in points (14.5) during his last season.
Fun fact: Cook was recruited by Beilein while the first-year NBA coach was at Michigan.
Years playing in the NBA: Seven.
Before coming to Cleveland: Dellavedova played his first three seasons with the Cavs then signed as a free agent with Milwaukee after the 2016 title season. Dellavedova was traded back to the Cavs with John Henson last season, and he played 36 games. Dellavedova played four collegiate seasons at Saint Mary’s. During his senior year, he averaged a career-high 15.8 points and tied a career-high for assists (6.4).
Things to know: Dellavedova brings a veteran presence, with his ability to facilitate and defend earning time on the floor. During this season’s preseason finale, he suffered a right thumb sprain. Dellavedova was available to practice Monday. Beilein suggested it’s likely that rookie Darius Garland will join Collin Sexton in the starting backcourt. If so, Dellavedova will be an important role player off the bench.
Key stat: Dellavedova led the Cavs in assists per game (4.2).
Fun fact: His favorite board game is Monopoly.
Years playing in the NBA: Rookie.
Before coming to Cleveland: Garland was drafted with the No. 5 overall pick last June. He played four games at Vanderbilt before a season-ending meniscus injury in his left knee. He averaged 16.2 points per game on 53.7% shooting from the field, along with 2.6 assists.
Things to know: Garland played in three preseason games, missing one with an ankle injury. Soreness in his right foot kept Garland out to begin training camp. Garland’s health will be something to watch, but his basketball skills are not in doubt. Garland has a good feel for the game, and his playmaking ability is arguably his best attribute. Whether it’s pulling up for a three or finding an open teammate, Garland sees the floor well.
Key stat: Garland shot 47.8% from three in five games at Vanderbilt.
Fun fact: Garland played AAU basketball for Bradley Beal Elite, and he has a relationship with the Washington Wizards star.
Years playing in the NBA: Eighth season.
Before coming to Cleveland: Henson played his first seven seasons with the Bucks, traded here last season with Dellavedova. Henson didn’t play with the Cavs because of a wrist injury suffered in Milwaukee. Henson played college basketball at North Carolina for three seasons, averaging 10.3 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Henson won ACC Defensive Player of the Year two times while at North Carolina.
Things to know: Henson didn’t play in the preseason because of groin and ankle injuries. He might not be available for the season opener. Henson is a good rim protector, and his ability to defend the paint would boost a team that struggled on defense last season. Henson also spaces the floor — he shot a career-high 35.5% from three last season in 14 games. The Cavs’ depth at power forward and center is limited. Ante Zizic is currently out about four weeks with plantar fasciitis. Kevin Love plays the power forward better than the center. Tristan Thompson can defend and rebound, but he doesn’t bring floor spacing.
Key stat: Henson has ranked in the top 10 for blocks per game three times during his career (2013-14, 2014-15, 2017-18).
Fun fact: Henson likes to fish in his free time.
Years playing in the NBA: Eighth.
Before coming to Cleveland: Knight arrived last season to the Cavs from the Houston Rockets. Knight played in 12 games for the Rockets and averaged 3.0 points in 9.8 minutes. Knight previously played for Detroit, Milwaukee and Phoenix. His best season was likely 2015-16, when he averaged a career-high 19.6 points for the Suns with 5.1 assists, the second-highest average of his career. Knight played one season while at Kentucky, and thrived. He averaged 17.3 points per game, 4.2 assists and shot 42.3%.
Things to know: When Knight came to Cleveland, he developed a mentor relationship with Collin Sexton. Knight also reignited a career often marred by injury, starting 26 games. He averaged 22.9 minutes, the most he played since 2015-16. Knight is part of a deep guard rotation and won’t of start, but if he comes off the bench with Dellavedova, he could bring stability to the second unit.
Key stat: Knight averaged 8.5 points per game with the Cavs last season, the most he’s posted since the 2016-17 season.
Fun fact: Brandon Knight’s favorite player while growing up was Tim Hardaway.
Years playing in the NBA: Twelfth.
Before coming to Cleveland: Love was traded to the Cavs in 2014 in exchange for former No. 1 overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. Love played six seasons with Minnesota, selected for three All-Star games. Love averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds with the Timberwolves. Love played one season at UCLA, and he averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds. He was a finalist for the 2008 Wooden Award.
Things to know: Love, 31, is the oldest player on the roster. He missed a majority of last season with a toe injury, playing in 22 games. Love has the potential to flourish in Beilein’s offense. During the preseason, the offense struggled. Love will play center in some lineups, but power forward is his best position. For Cleveland, this whole year will be about finding the most ideal spots for players, especially for veterans like Love who have established themselves in the league.
Key stat: Love has averaged a double-double for his career, scoring 18.3 points per game and grabbing 11.3 rebounds.
Fun fact: Love’s favorite movies are “He Got Game” and “Gladiator.”
Years playing in the NBA: Third.
Before coming to Cleveland: The Cavs claimed McKinnie off waivers Monday, adding wing depth. McKinnie played for Golden State last season, but was waived Saturday to clear space for big man Marquese Chriss. McKinnie averaged 10.7 minutes in the playoffs, scoring 3.0 points per game and grabbing 2.3 rebounds. He started his career with the Toronto Raptors, undrafted in 2015 out of Green Bay. During his last college season, McKinnie averaged 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Things to know: The Cavs took on McKinnie’s non-guaranteed deal, impressed by his contributions off the bench with Golden State. McKinnie is most effective on defense and rebounding. He brings good energy off the bench. The Cavs have a bevy of wings, though, so McKinnie would split time off the bench with Kevin Porter Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to begin the season.
Key stat: McKinnie averaged 3.4 rebounds in 13.9 minutes last season.
Fun fact: McKinnie was a two-star recruit while coming out of high school, per ESPN’s Marc Spears.
Larry Nance Jr.
Years playing in the NBA: Fifth.
Before coming to Cleveland: Nance began his career with three seasons with the Lakers, traded to the Cavs with Clarkson in 2018. In Los Angeles, Nance averaged 6.9 points on 54.7% shooting, along with 5.7 rebounds. Nance played his college ball at Wyoming, averaging 16.1 points as a senior.
Things to know: The next part of his growth will be how he develops as a playmaker. Nance has played better as a power forward, and in Beilein’s offense, he’ll be able to flourish in his natural role. He averaged a career-high 3.2 assists last season, and ranked second on the team in assists. Nance also shot a career-high 33.7% from three on a career-high 1.5 attempts per game. During the offseason, Nance reportedly shot jumpers until he was “blue in the face.”
Key stat: Last season Nance averaged career highs in points per game (9.4) and rebounds (8.2).
Fun fact: Nance played high school basketball at Revere, and he finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in blocks.
Years playing in the NBA: Third.
Before coming to Cleveland: Osman was drafted No. 31 in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft by Minnesota, then dealt with Rakeem Christmas to the Cavs for No. 24 pick Tyus Jones. Osman played in Turkey for Anadolu Efes before coming to the NBA in 2017. Osman also represented Turkey in the FIBA World Cup.
Things to know: Much like Nance, Osman is coming off a career season, averaging 13.0 points on 42.7% shooting. He also averaged career-highs in assists (2.6) and rebounds (4.7). For Osman, the next part of his development is his defense. Last season, Osman’s on court defensive rating was an extremely poor 118.8, according to NBA.com.
Key stat: Osman isn’t the best shooter, but last season he shot 34.8% from three on a career-high 4.9 attempts.
Fun fact: Osman’s favorite sport besides basketball is volleyball.
Kevin Porter Jr.
Years playing in the NBA: Rookie.
Before coming to Cleveland: Porter was selected with the No. 30 pick in June. Porter played one season at USC, scoring 9.5 points on 47.1% shooting in 21 games. Porter was suspended indefinitely last season by the Trojans because of ‘personal conduct issues.’ While at USC, Porter also had a thigh injury, and he only started four games.
Things to know: Porter was arguably a top five offensive talent in the draft. Porter is great at attacking defenders and creating space. He can get to the rim with ease, and shoots well. Like Clarkson, Porter has been identified by Beilein as another “wolf” for the offense. For Porter, watch his development on defense. He might play small forward sometimes, and he’ll need to use his length and athleticism to stick with some of the league’s most talented players.
Key stat: Porter shot 41.2% from three at USC, ranking second on the team.
Fun fact: Some of Porter’s favorite artists are rappers Lil Baby, Young Thug and Gunna.
Years playing in the NBA: Second.
Before coming to Cleveland: The Cavs drafted Sexton with the No. 8 pick in 2018. Sexton played one season at Alabama, where he was SEC Rookie of the Year. Sexton led the Crimson Tide in scoring with 19.2 points, and in assists (3.6). Sexton ranked second in the SEC for points per game during his freshman season, 10th in assists.
Things to know: Sexton had a rocky start to his rookie year, but finished well. Sexton was fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. He showed to be a better shooter than expected, shooting 40.2% from three. He averaged 16.7 points per game; third most on the team. Sexton must improve on his decision making and distributing. Sexton hasn’t shown to be an efficient facilitator. Last season, he averaged 3.0 assists and 2.3 turnovers.
Key stat: Sexton ranked 18th in the league for 3-point percentage.
Fun fact: Sexton’s favorite TV show is “Martin.”
Years playing in the NBA: Ninth.
Before coming to Cleveland: The Cavs drafted Thompson with the No. 4 pick in 2011. Thompson played one season at Texas. During his freshman season, he was second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.1 points. He ranked first on the team in rebounds (7.8). Thompson earned Big 12 Rookie of the Year, and he was also on the 2011 All-Big 12 second team.
Things to know: Thompson has been one of the Cavs’ best rebounders. Thompson is a solid pick-and-roll option, being able to catch lobs and get easy buckets in the paint. Last season Thompson averaged a double-double for the first time in his career; 10.9 points and 10.2 rebounds. An iron man for the first seven years of his career, Thompson played a career-low 43 games with a foot injury. He has worked on expanding his jumper to be a solid fit in Beilein’s system.
Key stat: Thompson has shot and missed nine 3-pointers during his career.
Fun fact: Thompson’s favorite food is chicken teriyaki.
Years playing in the NBA: Rookie.
Before coming to Cleveland: Wade, a stretch forward out of Kansas State, was undrafted in this year’s draft. He played four seasons for the Wildcats, averaging 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds. Wade shot 49.8% from the field, 38.6% from three. Wade earned All-Big 12 first team honors twice.
Things to know: Wade is on a two-way contract with Cleveland, which means he can spend up to 45 days with the Cavs. The rest of Wade’s time will be spent with the Canton Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate.
Key stat: Wade shot 40% or better from the three-point line three times while at Kansas State.
Fun fact: Wade likes to hunt and fish when he’s back home in Saint John, Kansas, per Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype.
Years playing in the NBA: Rookie.
Before coming to Cleveland: The No. 26 pick last June out of Belmont. Windler’s senior season was his best, as he reached career highs with 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds. Windler earned All-Ohio Valley first team honors, ranking third for points per game. Windler also ranked first in the OVC for 3-point field goal percentage (42.9%) and rebounds.
Things to know: Windler has been out with a stress reaction in his left leg, and didn’t play during the preseason. Windler is one of the best shooters in the draft, and he has the potential to provide space for the Cavs’ offense. Windler will be slightly behind because of missing the preseason, but would likely split time at small forward off the bench with Porter, Clarkson and McKinnie.
Key stat: Windler ranked 16th in the NCAA last season for 3-point field goal percentage.
Fun fact: Windler’s favorite athletes are Kevin Durant, James Harden and Phil Mickelson.
Years playing in the NBA: Third.
Before coming to Cleveland: Zizic was taken No. 23 by the Boston Celtics in 2016. Zizic signed with Boston in July 2017, and was traded to the Cavs in August of that year. Before his NBA career, Zizic, who was born in Croatia, played one season in Turkey for Darussafaka Dogus. Zizic scored 9.0 points a game and grabbed 6.7 rebounds for that team.
Things to know: Zizic is out for about four weeks with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Zizic averaged career highs in minutes (18.3), rebounds (5.4) and points (7.8) last season. Zizic is skilled down low, and he’s probably the most traditional big man on the roster next to Thompson, who primarily sticks to playing inside. While Zizic is out, the Cavs will have a big man rotation primarily of Thompson, Love and Nance.
Key stat: Zizic scored a career-high 23 points last season during a January game against the Denver Nuggets.
Fun Fact: Zizic’s favorite actor is Denzel Washington.