Every summer, the NBA fields its Las Vegas Summer League. 22 NBA teams field a team of draft picks, current youngsters and D-League or undrafted players, in an attempt to evaluate players and begin the teaching process for their incoming young talent. The basketball is…….kind of awful, when you compare it to the real deal: Lots of fouls and turnovers in the Thomas and Mack Center and the COX Pavillion. However, the Cavaliers do have a team in Vegas, so it’s worth looking at their performance. So far, the Cavs have gone 2-1 in summer league play, with a 70-62 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, a 69-50 win over the Memphis Grizzlies and a 66-62 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans (follow the links for individual game recaps). They are seeded seventh in the upcoming tournament (new to summer league ball), and will play the 10 seed, San Antonio, Friday. But now, let’s look at each individual player on the Cavs Summer League roster. Keep in mind, however: Summer League is a fickle beast. Guys like Luke Harangody and Dominique Jones are dominating this league while others like Ben McLemore and Tony Wroten have looked awful. Take all of these assessments with an entire shaker of salt.
Waiters has been the biggest wild card of this Summer League team. He’s taken it upon himself to get to the rack and be really aggressive with the ball in his hands, and the results have been…….everywhere. Waiters was a putrid 1-of-11 for three points in the LA game, 7-of-17 for 23 points against Memphis and 5-of-16 for 16 points, but five turnovers, against the Pelicans. Overall, Waiters has led the team in scoring, but he hasn’t been very efficient with the ball and still isn’t finishing at the rim well. Defensively, he’s looked okay, but Donte Greene, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Austin Rivers aren’t exactly that threatening. I’m really interested to see how he does on both sides of the ball against Nando De Colo for San Antonio. Dan Pilar wrote about Waiters’ Summer League struggle here.
Zeller, meanwhile, hasn’t looked bad at all. He’s averaged a hair under 14 points and over nine rebounds for the three games and is scoring at a solid rate. He performed really well against Jon Brockman of the Pelicans, one of the few bright spots of that game for Cleveland. His problem is still on the defensive side of the ball, though, as Memphis center Jack Cooley ripped him apart with his range and inside/outside scoring ability in that game, and he hasn’t exactly been a rim protector. Still, it’s been nice to see a positive offensive effort from the big guy when Waiters has been inconsistent.
The only one of the Cavs draft picks to play in Summer League, Felix has brought exactly what you’d think he would: Decent athleticism, solid perimeter D, good rebounding and really inconsistent offense. Felix hasn’t exactly wowed at LVSL, but from what he’s shown, he’s exactly the prospect the scouts made him out to be.
The guard from UCF exploded for 17 points in the Lakers game, then has tailed off considerably in the last two games. He’s a prototypical Summer League undrafted guy, someone who can score a bit in the right situation but kills you with fouls and a lack of defensive understanding.
A legitimate surprise in Summer League, Dellavedova looks to be a legitimate team player, making crisp passes, hustling on the defensive end and disrupting the flow of the opponent’s game as the bench point guard. He’s a +30 through three games. That’s fairly impressive. Dellavedova has made a solid impression on me, and I’m thinking we see him in Canton this season with a potential stint or two on the Cavs roster via 10-day contracts.
The former Bobcat was promoted from the bench to starting point guard for the team after the Memphis game, and he’s looked alright for the Cavs. He’s a guy with NBA experience, and that’s shown on the defensive end, where he’s been a pretty decent option. Offensively, he’s been sporadic but does a decent job of drawing fouls, which is nice to see. He’s been the guard version of Taylor, basically.
Dan Pilar’s main man on this team, Kadji’s been pretty solid as a defensive player as well. He can’t do anything on offense, as evidenced by him going 5-of-15 through three games, but he’s rebounded extremely well and defended pretty nicely. I’m not sold on Kadji’s abilities as an NBA player (He’s 25 so room to grow is basically nonexistent), but he’s been reliable. You know what you’re getting with Kadji. You absolutely cannot say that about most summer leaguers.
The Richmond product and former 12th man supreme for the Magic has also rebounded pretty well and is one of the more disciplined players on the team. He’s also…..Justin Harper.
Has been hilariously bad. He went from starting and playing 19 minutes in Game 1 to not playing at all against the Pelicans. Quinn looks absolutely lost on the court and has been outclassed by two other point guards.
Once upon a time, he was the leader of one of the many Gonzaga teams that has been a threat in the NCAA Tournament in the late 00s. Now, he’s played 41 minutes and has the same number of fouls as he does points, rebounds and assists combined (10).
The Aussie has played four total minutes.
Kevin Jones, Jared Berggren
Haven’t played. Kinda surprising that Jones hasn’t seen the floor, as he was a guy who was a bright spot in March and April last season.
The Cavaliers will battle the Spurs at 4 p.m. ET on Friday.