After a few days of hinting towards potential linuep changes, Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott has decided to start oft-reserve center Ryan Hollins tonight as the Wine and Gold host the New Jersey Nets.
The move to start Hollins has several folds, per Scott. The Cavaliers have lost eight of their past 10 games and are (once again) in need of a shake-up. However, with the Nets rostering one of the NBA’s rare “true” centers in Brook Lopez, Scott felt that starting the team’s lone, healthy seven-footer would be of benefit.
The move will slide JJ Hickson back to his true position at power forward and will allow the team to bring Samardo Samuels off of the bench (perhaps also his true position) as the first reserve big man. This change comes just three days after Scott told the media that Hickson and Samuels would remains center and power forward, respectively, for the duration of the season.
“[Hickson’s] success this year has been at [center],so why not keep him there?” Scott asked this past weekend.
With the improvement in overall size will come several risks, all which Scott is addressing internally. For starters, when placed as the power forward, Hickson tends to drift away from the hoop and rely on his ever-improving jump shot. Coupling this with the fact that the 22-year-old big man is coming off of a successful game against the Clippers this past weekend (8-for-12 beyond 10 feet), there is the chance that JJ can attempt to harness is inner Ray Allen.
Since being handed the starting power forward position, Samardo Samuels has seen most of his success in the first quarter of play, starting off aggressive and taking high-volume, high-percentage shots. While bringing him off of the bench could potentially negate this impact, Scott feels that Samuels will get to feast on the reserve big men of New Jersey rather than the starting tandem of Lopez and Kris Humphries (averaging 10.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game against the Cavaliers).
Also, as seen in previous matchups with the Nets, Hollins has not exactly been the most stout of defenders against Lopez (recall the infamous back-slapping attempt at a foul in late January). When asked about the specific incident in a game that should have been won, Byron Scott said that while the two parties had a good laugh about it before shootaround, the team would prefer he err on the side of caution in those instances as the alternative could be a flagrant foul
Whether or not this move sticks remains to be seen. If the last four months of play is any indication, the starting lineup remains as fluid as ever.
(AP Photo/Al Behrman)