Kay Felder Fits The Cleveland Cavaliers Puzzle Perfectly


The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired the 54th pick for a reason, to draft Kay Felder. Why? It’s because he is a perfect fit in Cleveland.

Kay Felder was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 54th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, a pick the Cavs had to acquire on draft night since they didn’t hold a draft pick. On Saturday, the Cavs announced that Felder officially signed his contract.

Felder, 21, didn’t receive much attention from division-1 colleges due to the fact that he’s only 5-foot-9, but that worked out for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Once Felder stepped on campus, Oakland didn’t recruit a single point guard, giving him the keys to the future of the program.

He improved each year on campus, becoming the go-to-guy as a sophomore after playing a limited role as a freshman. Fast-forward to the end of his junior season and he was the only player in college basketball to rank in the top five in points (24.4 per game) and assists (9.3 per game.)

It was at Oakland that Felder first met Brandon Weems, an assistant coach on the Golden Grizzlies’ staff. Weems became a Cavaliers scout in 2015 and knew Felder and everything he brought to the table. Weems is also a former high school teammate and a friend of LeBron James.

Have you connected the dots yet?

Related Story: Kay Felder's 2016 Summer League Report

If General Manager David Griffin was truly trying to acquire a first round pick, it shows how much the Cavaliers covet Felder.

Felder joined the Cavaliers Summer League team in Las Vegas, where he played in all seven games and started six. He proved that he has the potential to be a two-way guard, despite being 5-foot-9. He averaged 15.3 points, 3.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.

The highlights of his game are his quickness and the way he utilizes his most elite skill. Felder excels with the pick-and-roll to free himself from his defender. Once he does, he has a variety of options beginning with a pull-up, elbow jumper, finishing around the rim, dropping a pass off to an open big man or finding an open shooter. This is where his playmaking skills are top-notch.

If he’s moving within the halfcourt offense, Felder has a tendency to get trapped on the sideline, which gives him a difficult pass over taller defenders. Though playing with the Cavs’ roster as opposed to a Summer League roster will likely lessen this problem.

Felder’s three-point shooting is nowhere near where he should be to maximize his offensive potential. However, coming off the bench he can be a playmaking point guard with the ball in his hands, which would leave spot-up three-point shooting as less of a necessity.

Defensively, Felder is aggressive. He isn’t afraid to defend the full length of the court, and he surely isn’t afraid to be physical. He is good at jumping in passing lanes to get a steal and a quick run out in transition. He also isn’t afraid to showcase his 44-inch vertical by going for a block.

Felder already has the fundamentals and intangibles in place to be a good point guard. With the Cavaliers, he has the perfect setting to elevate his game with a player in James that is going to push him to the limit, and a player in Kyrie Irving who will be a mentor to Felder.

Irving is the NBA’s most explosive scorer among point guards when driving to the basket and finishing acrobatic layups. Felder’s game is similar in that he likes to take the ball through the paint and to the basket to either get a basket or draw a foul. This is where Irving can help mold this part of Felder’s game and make him on that same elite level.

Irving has become one of the NBA’s best scorers at the point guard position due to his craftiness with his ball-handling and quickness. Allowing Felder to matchup against Irving defensively in practice will make Felder a better guard defensively in learning how to use his quickness and aggressive mindset to make plays on that end of the court.

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Expect James to have his hand in teaching Felder the ropes, too. Like with departed point guard Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavs are going to be all-in on developing Felder, a player they hold in high regard.

What does that mean for other guards competing in the Cavaliers’ backcourt?

Mo Williams has battled health problems late in his career, and only played in 41 games for the Cavs last season. He played, on average, 18.2 minutes per game and scored 8.2 minutes per game. But he wasn’t much of a playmaker, only averaging 2.4 assists per game.

Williams, 33, opted in to the final year of his contract, but that doesn’t guarantee him playing time. He will certainly have to battle Felder and potentially others for the backup point guard role.

Perhaps Jordan McRae, the Las Vegas Summer League’s leading scorer, will land the backup role. The 6-foot-6 guard is more of an embodiment of a NBA player than Felder, or even Williams. But he doesn’t necessarily fit the Cavs’ mold.

McRae is a true scorer that keeps to himself often. He scored a Developmental-League (D-League) record 61 points last season, and then scored 36 points in the Cavs’ regular season finale against the Detroit Pistons. He would be the perfect go-to option if the Cavs were to rest both Irving and James, but not many other players would get looks offensively.

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Felder is shaping up to be the perfect fit for the backup point guard role. It’s the perfect situation for Felder to learn from two of the top players in the game, and a head coach who is much more poised than a typical second-year coach.

Felder fits the Cavaliers puzzle.