The 2014 Las Vegas Summer League will go down as one of the craziest weeks in Cavalier history, both on and off the court, headlined by LeBron James’ return to Cleveland. Stuck in the excitement of the King coming home, it would be easy to forgot that the Cavaliers played actually basketball games this past week in Las Vegas, with a roster that included two No. 1 picks — Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.
Overall it was a successful week in Sin City for the Cavs, despite getting eliminated in the second round of tournament play. The Cavs finished up the Summer League with a 4-1 record, winning their first three games against the Bucks, Spurs and 76ers, which earned them a first-round bye in the tournament stages. They then got knocked out after a disappointing loss to the Rockets before getting back on the winners board, defeating the Heat in the consolation round.
Throughout the five Cavalier games over the past week, we saw glimpses of incredible athleticism from Andrew Wiggins, a slimmed-down, more under-control Anthony Bennett, an improved Matthew Dellavedova and a whole lot of D-League players and undrafted players hoping to make a roster next season. So how exactly did each individual Cavalier preform in Vegas? Let’s take a look…
*NBA Listed Player
4 GP, 29.8 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 42% FG, 25% 3P, 60% FT, 7.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 3.0 TO
After coming off one of the worst, if not the worst, seasons produced from a No. 1 draft pick, Anthony Bennett came out in this years Las Vegas Summer League to prove a point. After a season where he didn’t look like he wanted to be on the court, Bennett looked like a new man in Vegas, and the off-season work he had put in paid off.
Bennett looked much more lively on the court this past week. He wasn’t hesitant with the ball, was more confident on the court and looked like a force on the rebounds. Bennett seemed to have an attitude of, “This is my court and I’m taking over,” in Vegas, which led to some very good moments but also led to some questionable decision making. When Bennett was throwing down monster dunks and using his strength to score down low, he looked like the player the Cavs expected him to be last season. When he was shooting bad three pointers early on in the shot clock (which resulted in more then one air ball over the week) and settling for way too many jumpers, he looked all too much like last season’s Bennett. For a player with Bennett’s strength and size, watching him shooting outsider shots, thus bailing out the defense, is frustrating.
Another area where Bennett seemed to strive during the Las Vegas Summer League was on the rebounds. Bennett used his size and strength to overpower his opponent many times and got in good rebounding position, something we didn’t see last season. If Bennett can commit himself to rebounding, he could easily become a guy that will give you eight to 10 boards a night.
Overall, Bennett’s Summer League was a mixed bag but the good outweighed the bad. Seeing Bennett show confidence in himself and bring a new attitude to the game was pleasing but seeing him shoot way too many jump shots is something Cavalier fans are way too used to.
5 GP, 25.2 MPG, 12.8 PPG, 52% FG, 23% 3P, 71% FT, 4.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.0 TO
After finishing off last season in the D-League with the Canton Charge, Will Cherry came to Vegas hoping to get a spot with the Cavaliers main roster. While Cherry won’t make the roster, he had a very strong showing and was a pleasant surprise. Cherry showed he could be a spark-plug player off the bench when he had a stellar fourth quarter in the Cavaliers 82-70 win over the Spurs. In that game, Cherry had 14 straight final quarter points, willing the Cavaliers to victory.
Cherry showed his value during the Las Vegas Summer League. He is a player that brings a gritty attitude on both ends off the floor and can score in bunches. He is a long shot to make the Cavs roster but could find his way into the NBA if he continues improving.
5 GP, 16.0 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 61% FG, 50% FT, 4.4 RPG, 0.2 APG, 1.2 TO
After playing in last years Las Vegas Summer League with the Grizzlies and Rockets and playing in this years Orlando Summer League and again with the Grizzlies, Jack Cooley represented the Cavaliers in his fourth Summer League appearance in two years. Cooley had a solid showing for the Cavs in Vegas, showing he can be a smooth operator in the low post. Despite his bright moments over the past week, Cooley didn’t show enough to make a roster spot and will be probably spending next season playing overseas.
3 GP, 32.0 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 43% FG, 27% 3P, 80% FT, 4.7 RPG, 4.7 APG, 4.0 TO
Matthew Dellavedova was one of the lone bright spots for the Cavs last season, and he came to the Las Vegas Summer League hoping to show off an all-around improved game. While Dellavedova did show areas of improvement, the areas he needs to improve on were also noticeable. Dellavedova played in just three games due to commitments to the Australian National Team, but he showed that he has the ability to productively run an offense. This was more evident during the time when Dellavedova was actually off the court then on it. In the two games Dellavedova missed, the Cavs took longer and didn’t look as comfortable running and getting into the offense. With Dellavedova running the point, the offense seemed to rum smoothly, and it didn’t take long to get a play going until the defense found Dellavedova’s weakness — ball handling.
More than once, the Cavaliers opponents opted to play a full-court press, which seemed to make Dellavedova a lot more confused and less confident with the ball. Dellavedova didn’t seem keen to use his left hand, didn’t attack the defender and was filled with indecision. This resulted in the Cavs getting into their offense a lot later then they wanted, in which bad shots or turnovers were usually the outcome of the play. Dellavedova is the Cavs only back-up point guard on the roster as it stands, so improving his ball handling is a must before the season begins.
Dellavedova’s defense was as gritty as ever during the Summer League, as he got into opponents’ faces and caused havoc on the defensive end, something that the Cavaliers need off the bench. Dellavedova’s shooting also didn’t seem to improve or take a step back during the Summer League. He can still hit the open 3 and make a floater in the lane, but he still isn’t a primary offense option.
Overall it was a solid showing for Dellavedova, who showed the good and the bad in his game during the week. Dellavedova will be the Cavs primary back-up point guard heading into the season, unless a free agent is signed.
5 GP, 14.8 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 64% FG, 82% FT, 3.6 RPG, 0.4 APG, 1.0 TO
A key contributor in last years Canton Charge playoff run, Shane Edwards showed his versatility over the past week in Las Vegas Summer League play. Edwards showed he can hit the mid-range jumper, work in the low post and can create some highlights, which included a huge put-back dunk in the final stages of the win against the 76ers.
Edwards has a solid offensive game but lacks the strength needed to bang with the big bodies in the NBA. He needs to improve his strength and power if he wants to make an NBA roster, but he showed good flashes in Vegas.
5 GP, 14.2 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 47% FG, 44% 3P, 66% FT, 3.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.8 TO
Coming off a rookie season filled with injury problems and D-League appearances, Carrick Felix came into this years Summer League hoping to show everyone he can ball. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Felix underperformed in Vegas and looked more like someone straight out of college, rather then a player with a year of NBA experience.
Even though he showed ability to hit the three-point shot, Felix’s Las Vegas Summer League can be summed up in one sentence: He failed to provide an impact. Felix didn’t use his athleticism during the week, which led to him looking a bit out of it on offense. He was solid on defense but was nothing spectacular.
Felix will probably still be on the Cavaliers roster come opening night but will spend the majority of his season in Canton, working on his game in the D-League.
4 GP, 13.3 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 37% FG, 31% 3P, 60% FT, 1.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.3 TO
Steven Gray showed off his ability to hit big shots when needed in Vegas, nailing a huge 3 during the Cavs comeback effort against the Rockets. In the next game against the Heat, Gray nailed four three-point attempts and showed everyone that he can be a very good shooter from beyond the arc.
Even though he can shoot, don’t expect Gray to be on a NBA roster come opening night.
4 GP, 9.3 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 36% FG, 20% 3P, 1.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.8 TO
Jayson Granger didn’t get many minutes to show his stuff during the Las Vegas Summer League. Playing overseas for his whole career, Granger came down to the Summer League hoping to land a roster spot. Granger didn’t show enough with the Cavs to earn that roster spot and will probably be spending another season overseas.
4 GP, 24.8 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 39% FG, 40% 3P, 81% FT, 1.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 TO
The 33rd pick in this year’s draft, Joe Harris, had a rough start to the Las Vegas Summer League, as he only had one practice before the team’s first game due to a sprained ankle. Despite that, Harris showed improvement in each game he played in Vegas.
Harris was said to be a knock-down 3-point shooter coming out of college, and the Cavs saw glimpses of that shooting, but his shooting wasn’t as consistent as the Cavs need it to be. Along with that, Harris didn’t provide the floor spacing the Cavs will need him to provide come opening night.
What Harris did show in Vegas though was his ability to pass the ball. Harris has great court vision and threw some excellent passes during this past week, especially in the last game against the Heat. Good and willing passes are always welcomed on teams, and that is an element of Harris’ game that the Cavs and fans alike will be pleased with.
Harris also showed his ability and willingness to play hard on the defensive end during the Las Vegas Summer League. Expect Harris to play a small amount of minutes during the season and possibly spend some time in Canton.
1 GP, 14.0 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 50% FG, 50% 3P, 100% FT, 1.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.0 TO
Scotty Hopson signed a contract with the Cavaliers late last season and came into this years Las Vegas Summer League hoping to break into the Cavs rotation this season. Unfortunately for Hopson he never got that chance due to multiple trades.
After his first game, in which he showed some shooting ability but also some bad decision making and shot selection, Hopson was traded from the Cavs to the Hornets. The Hornets then shipped him to the Pelicans, who finally traded Hopson to the Rockets. Hopson is expected to be waived by the Rockets and will probably be spending next season in the D-League or overseas.
5 GP, 15.4 MPG, 5.2 PPG, 52% FG, 66% FT, 3.4 RPG, 0.4 APG, 1.6 TO
An undrafted rookie out of New Mexico, Alex Kirk came to the Cavaliers Las Vegas Summer League team hoping to show his worth and earn himself a roster spot. This doesn’t seem like it will be the case for Kirk. While Kirk showed some of his offensive repertoire during the week, which included some finesse finishing around the rim and the ability to shoot from the outside, he didn’t show enough to get a roster spot.
Kirk’s game is more suited to the European leagues, so expect Kirk to be playing overseas next season.
3 GP, 11.3 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 50% FG, 100% FT, 3.7 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.7 TO
After coming over from Charlotte during the Summer League, Dwight Powell only got the chance to play in three Summer League games for the Cavaliers. In those games, the 45th pick showed his offensive versatility.
Powell can hit the mid-range jumpshot but can also finish around the rim and even get above the rim when needed. Powell has good size at 6-11 but he lacks the strength needed to bang with the NBA’s bigger bodies and won’t provide the rim protection the Cavs dearly need.
Expect the Canadian to spend most of his time in Canton this season, fine tuning his game for the pros.
4 GP, 30.0 MPG, 15.5 PPG, 40% FG, 15% 3P, 70% FT, 3.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 2.8 TO
The most hyped-up player coming out of high school, the No. 1 overall pick showed why the Cavs made him the No. 1 pick in last months draft with his performance this past week. Wiggins showed his amazing athleticism, elite defensive ability, a variety of step-back jumpers and provided some highlight reel plays this past week but also showed some flaws in his game, which is expected of course. Wiggins showed all of this while dealing with the never-ending Kevin Love trade rumors, but the rookie showed poise and professionalism when asked about those rumors in media appearances during the week. We have all heard about the trade rumors, so lets focus on how Wiggins preformed this past week in Vegas.
Wiggins’ athleticism was on full display in Sin City, as he skied for some monster dunks and provided us with some stellar blocks, which included blocking last years sixth overall pick, Nerlens Noel, in an incredible defensive play from the rookie. Wiggins’ athleticism allows him to guard multiple positions and cause havoc on the defensive end. His on-ball defense is already better then a lot of NBA players, as his length and athleticism, along with his commitment to the end of the floor, allows him to get up in the grill of the ball handler and cause bad shots or turnovers. Wiggins showed this defensive ability over the past week and also showed how his athleticism helps him on the offensive end. Wiggins’ ability to jump out of the gym was on display and with his ability to cut back door, it allows Wiggins to get easy looks at the rim.
Wiggins’ jumpshot was a concern for many coming into the Summer League, and that proved true at times. Wiggins shot an ugly 15 percent from beyond the arc over the four games he played in but still seemed to settle for that shot too many times. With Wiggins’ athleticism, watching him settle for jumpers is frustrating, as he isn’t playing to the best of his abilities. Wiggins also gets very high on his jumper, which can be a bad thing when shooting open shots. With all that being said, though, Wiggins showed he has a very nice step-back jumper, in which he can hit consistently, and it showed Wiggins is more then just a dunker.
Along with his jumpshot, another area of Wiggins’ game that needs improvement is his ball handling. Wiggins seems to have no left hand, and when he does go left, he looks unconfident and rattled. While he did show some nice dribbling skills, which included his sick spin dunk against the Sixers, Wiggins isn’t great when being guarded heavily. Ball handling is definitely an area of Wiggins’ game that needs improving.
Overall it was a strong showing for Wiggins in Sin City. He showed glimpses of why Cleveland made him the top pick, and while he had some poor moments, his good moments definitely outweighed the bad. Expect Wiggins to play a major role for the Wine and Gold next season. That’s assuming he doesn’t get traded of course.