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Cleveland Cavaliers roster 2013: Kyrie Irving's the future, but present hinges on Andrew Bynum

Kyrie Irving gives reason for hope regardless of what happens, but Andrew Bynum could make or break the Cavs' success this season.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers have plenty of room for improvement after a 2012-13 season marred with growing pains that saw them finish 24-58, good for last place in the Central Division.

New additions should make improvement from last season an easier task, and the team now has a strong nucleus of veteran leaders to complement its young cornerstones.

Projected starters

Andrew Bynum -- The last time Bynum played NBA basketball, he was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers. Unfortunately, that was back in 2012, and he spent the 2012-13 season with the Philadelphia 76ers garnering more attention for his hair than anything since he didn't suit up for a single game. That's how the Cavs were able to add the talented big man on an incentive-laden, two-year deal with only one season partially guaranteed. The 76ers had to abandon their plans to build around the 25-year-old, and now it's Cleveland's turn to roll the dice, except this time the stakes aren't as high. He should start at center, but it's still unknown when he'll be ready.

Tristan Thompson -- Fresh off a stint with Team Canada in the FIBA Americas Tournament over the summer, Thompson is ready to take another step forward as the Cavs' starting power forward. In his two NBA seasons, the Canadian increased his production and efficiency consistently, leaving Cleveland with hope of bigger things this season beside Bynum.

Earl Clark -- The Lakers' loss is once again Cleveland's gain, as Clark tested the free agent waters after a breakout season that saw him post career highs in every major statistical category. He benefited from increased opportunity due to injuries with his former team, and given the Cavs' youth, he will have another chance to grow as an NBA player. If he can produce something like the 11.3 points and 8.6 rebounds he averaged per 36 minutes in 2012-13, he'll be a strong asset at small forward, with enough size and versatility to shift to power forward if necessary.

Dion Waiters -- After an up-and-down rookie campaign, Waiters is firmly planted as the starting two-guard for the Cavs and should take big leaps forward as the second half of a dynamic young backcourt. He will continue to benefit from the attention his superior teammate draws and should get plenty of open looks from the perimeter in an attempt to improve his three-point shooting. He shot 31 percent last year and could trump that number with better floor balance.

Kyrie Irving -- Irving is the future of the franchise (and potentially the NBA) and its unquestioned leader during the transition under Mike Brown. The 2012 Rookie of the Year and 2013 All-Star has a high ceiling and has already established himself as a star player. With more talent around him, Irving should see even more improvement in his third year.

Rotation players

Jarrett Jack -- Jack embraced his role as the Warriors' sixth man last season and played well enough to warrant plenty of attention in the free agent market. The Cavs were the ones fortunate enough to acquire his services for just over $25 million for four years, and he figures to be a key asset to the rotation off the bench.

Anderson Varejao -- Varejao was entering his NBA prime when injury derailed his career and forced him to miss most of the 2012-13 season. Now that he's been cleared to resume, he would do well to contribute 25 minutes or so off the bench as a defensive anchor.

Anthony Bennett -- The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft should play right away and log significant minutes in the young frontcourt. What he actually does with that playing time is the bigger question.

C.J. Miles -- Capable of providing quick offense off the bench, Miles averaged 19.2 points per 36 minutes last season and shot an impressive 38 percent as a high-volume three-point shooter. Should he sustain that shooting touch, he'll continue to be an asset.

Alonzo Gee -- The 26-year-old started all 82 games at small forward for Cleveland in 2012-13, but he'll likely see a minutes reduction this season. An intriguing young player who has struggled in a bigger role, maybe Gee will improve with less responsibility.

Deep on the bench

Tyler Zeller -- Injuries forced Zeller into the starting lineup 55 times last season, but he's probably looking at a much smaller role in 2013-14. Injuries to Bynum and Varejao could quickly change that.

Sergey Karasev -- The Cavs' other first-round pick this year, Karasev could be the future at small forward in Cleveland. Drafted 19th overall, the 6'7 wing brings shooting touch and a lengthy background of international experience with the Russian national team despite being just 19 years old.

Carrick Felix -- Cleveland's third rookie, selected No. 33 overall out of Arizona State. Felix likely won't play much in a crowded wing rotation, but he's another player the Cavaliers have decided to take a flier on.

Head coach

Mike Brown -- The 2012-13 season wasn't exactly a great one for Brown, who got fired just two weeks into the season by the Los Angeles Lakers, but he's rebounded nicely by returning to Cleveland. With an up-and-coming roster learning from the defensive-minded Brown, a guy with NBA Finals experience as a head coach, the fit makes sense for both sides right now.

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