Just over a month ago, we took a look at some players the Cleveland Cavaliers were interested in inviting to training camp. Of the players covered, Henry Sims, Kenny Kadji, and Matthew Dellavedova are in camp with those Cavaliers, while Josh Childress has accepted a training camp invitation from the Washington Wizards. Now that camp has begun and the training camp roster has been announced, Right Down Euclid will take a look at the other players in camp with the Cavaliers hoping to earn one of the team’s two available roster spots.
A 6’5” combo guard out of Central Florida selected by the Wizards in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft, Taylor was immediately traded to the Houston Rockets and spent several years bouncing between the NBA and the D-League with both the Rockets and Sacramento Kings before playing overseas last year. An exceptional athlete who has averaged 16.1 points per 36 minutes during his time with the Rockets and Kings, Taylor is also a solid rebounder who possesses a solid midrange game. Unfortunately he has struggled defensively and his poor outside shooting (28 percent from three for his career), has caused him to have a total of -0.3 offensive win shares for his career. Taylor will have to show significant improvement in these areas to make the Cavaliers’ roster.
Like Taylor, Williams is a 6’5 combo guard with impressive athleticism and scoring ability (21.3 points per game 36 minutes for his career), Williams is also a solid defender and far more efficient player, posting a PER of 18.8 during his lone semi-healthy season. Health has been by far the biggest hindrance in Williams’ career thus far. The 22nd overall pick by the Portland Trailblazers in 2010, Williams’ career thus far has been relegated to 24 games during the 2011-2012 season. Williams missed the entire 2010-2011 season due to knee surgery, part of the 2011-2012 because of a shoulder injury, and an Achilles injury cost him last season. Besides the obvious injury concerns, Williams also has no range, shooting 29 percent from three and a horrid 33 percent from the line. Williams is certainly talented, but needs to show he is healthy and can hit free throws before teams will take a chance on him.
A 6’8” forward who played at St. Bonaventure from 2004 to 2008, Lee has spent the last several years playing overseas before coming to training camp with the Cavaliers. While playing in Europe, Lee has posted fairly efficient offensive numbers, but it is hard to see where he will fit with the Cavaliers. I am interested to learn more about him and see what he brings to the table.
The surprise invitee of camp, Diop returns to the Cavaliers after stints with the Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, and Charlotte Bobcats. While Diop was undoubtedly a bust as the eighth overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft (he was taken ahead of Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, and Tony Parker, among others), he has carved out a 12 year career as a defensive oriented center off the bench, averaging 9.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes for his career. Unfortunately Diop’s plus defense is negated by his abysmal offense. For his career, the big man has shot below 50 percent from both the field and the line while posting a PER of 9.8. While he has limited upside, Diop is a low risk defender who would accept a bench role with very limited minutes.
While Taylor and Williams bring intriguing skill sets to the table, it’s hard to picture them making the Cavaliers’ final roster. The Cavaliers are solid at shooting guard with a rotation of Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles and Jarrett Jack. Alonzo Gee, Sergey Karasev, and Carrick Felix could see time there as well. Taylor and Williams also like the point guard skills of fellow camp invitee Matthew Dellavedova, who has the inside track on the third point guard spot. Lee is pretty much a complete unknown, and one would think that if he had NBA-level ability he would have spent some time in the league by now. Finally, while the Cavaliers would probably prefer younger big men Sims or Kadji show solid play on both sides of the ball, Diop has a real chance to claim a roster spot. While he does not have the upside of the younger players, Diop knows how to play solid NBA defense. With the injury histories of Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao, it is probably in the best interest of the Cavaliers to have an extra big man who can come in and protect the rim after not playing much. Keeping Diop also allows the Cavaliers to use their D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, to develop Karasev, Felix, and Dellavedova. If I had to make a prediction on who wins the Cavaliers final two roster spots after one day of training camp, I would guess Dellavedova and Diop.