Cavaliers Pre-Season Notes: Jarrett Allen Ankle Injury

October 11, 2023

Tony Camino


Cavs’ Big Man’s Status for Season Opener in Question Following Ankle Injury

The Cavs’ training camp has been underway since media day in early October, and the team already has its first injury. Starting center Jarrett Allen is expected to miss around two weeks with an ankle injury, making his status for the season opener questionable. The team is calling it a left ankle bone bruise and is hopeful he can be ready to start the season. However, in the event he has to miss some time, here’s how they will likely replace him.


Veteran Big Man Depth

Damian Jones and Tristan Thompson were brought in as big men this offseason, and this is a great chance to show what they can provide. Jones will be the big man who sees the most significant increase in minutes if Allen has to miss time, and he should provide solid rebounding, defense, and rim running off the bench to help the Cavs with any big men inside. Jones isn’t a game-changer by any means, but he’s very solid in his role and can help the Cavs get through a short period without Allen.


Shift to Small-Ball

My preferred option if Allen has to miss time would be to space the floor with Evan Mobley at the five and allow the offense to be spread out to avoid a logjam in the paint. With new forward Georges Niang in the mix, he or Dean Wade can provide size and shooting alongside Mobley, allowing the Cavs to still put three more shooters around them to maximize space on offense.

This has been the direction the Cavs needed to go at points in games anyway, and the Allen injury might allow the team to see these lineups more than we expected out of the gate. Until the first two matchups with the Knicks around the end of the month, the Cavs don’t face a traditional big man who is going to dominate the game if they don’t present enough size. Playing small for all those games is a fine option and will likely result in the best Cavs’ offense we’ve seen in the Bickerstaff era.


Recap

While Jarrett Allen has been a significant part of this core’s resurgence to the top of the East, allowing the team to explore more modern lineups that give their playmakers ample space to operate could be a good thing. The rotation is going to have to include more lineups that put shooters around the stars, limiting Mobley and Allen from playing the entirety of games alongside each other. Damian Jones and Tristan Thompson will be fine depth pieces for the time being, as only one of them is likely to see even 20 minutes a game without Allen. Hoping for a quick recovery for Allen, but the small-ball approach is something that could transform the outlook on the Cavs’ season.

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