This is the first installment of a weekly Monday series called Cavaliers On Point. I, Zachary Kolesar, will be hosting On Point up until training camp starts in late September. Every week I will be covering two hot topics surrounding the Cavaliers going into head coach Byron Scott’s impossible camp.
This week I will be discussing the successes (and failures) that Anderson Varejao experienced while playing in his first Olympic games on Team Brazil and why Samardo Samuels will come up big for the Cavaliers this season.
Although Clevealnd Cavaliers power forward Anderson Varejao only saw 19.8 minutes on average in six Olympic games (including 16 minutes in Team final game against Argentina), he has already been announced as one of the two sure-fire starters by head coach Byron Scott. When he was in for Brazil, he was the team’s best defensive asset and hogged the boards down low, especially on the offensive side.
Varejao averaged 7.3 points, seven rebounds and one steal, while shooting at a 56.2 percent clip. He was a defensive force for Brazil, but it was odd to see him not get that much playing time. I don’t think holding Varejao on the bench for more than half of the time was a product of his wrist injury early last season, but just bad game plan on the Brazilian side. Quite shocking because Brazil head coach Ruben Magnano has a reputation as an elite coach, leading Argentina to the gold medal victory in 2004.
With all that aside, we should be very proud of our Brazil countryman. Brazil qualified for the Olympic tournament for the first time since 1996, making it the first Olympics that Varejao was able to compete in. Although Brazil and Andy came away empty handed, I still think this was a great opportunity for him to get used to playing against elite players again.
Whether Varejao plays at the four or five next season won’t matter too much for the Cavaliers. Cleveland added a lot of young talent at the center position through free agency and the draft, so Wild Thing may begin the season starting as the Cavaliers big man.
Second Point: Samardo Samuels came into the Cavaliers Summer League as the most determined player to secure a roster spot, jocking for position behind Varejao and Tristann Thompson.
How determined is Samardo Samuels this season to have a roster spot come opening day? Determined enough to shed off 30 pounds in three months by putting in extra hours at the gym and removing fast and fried foods from his diet according to Angelo Benedetti of Fear The Sword.
In 54 games last season Samuels averaged 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds, while shooting 45.5 percent from the field. In five games, one of which he started in, Samuels impressed teammates, fans and Cavaliers personnel. He averaged 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 88.5 percent from the free throw line. From the 2011-12 season to Las Vegas play this year, Samuels showed the most offseason improvement, with Donald Sloan coming in at a distant second.
Samuels, who is entering his thrid NBA season, turned some heads this summer and we should expect to see a spike in bench minutes from the former Louisville forward. If/when Alonzo Gee decides to sign with the Cavaliers, we could see him taking on an opening day starting role, with players like C.J. Miles and Samuels seeing the bulk of bench playing time.
Come back every Monday before training camp begins in September to see the next two points in the Right Down Euclid series Cavaliers On Point.