It’s a broken record to say that Dylan Windler has been injury-prone thus far in his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After having been drafted 26th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by Cleveland, he’s had problems staying healthy.
Windler’s rookie season was wiped out because of a lower left leg stress fracture, and he was active in only 31 games in his de facto rookie year in 2020-21 due to a few other ailments.
First, Windler was sidelined for a chunk of outings in the season’s early going with a fourth left metacarpal fracture, and his season would ultimately end in late March in relation to left knee complications. He had 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game.
Windler would eventually have surgery there to address “ongoing patella tendinopathy concerns” in late April, and as was then expected, he wouldn’t be active in Las Vegas Summer League, either.
On a positive note, Windler is seemingly progressing in his recovery. But based on comments in a mail bag set of responses from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, it’s “not a certainty Windler is ready for the start of camp,” so that’s something to be monitored.
Hopefully Windler can get himself in reps in 5-on-5 work in camp, though, and while it was previously reported he hadn’t been full-go there yet for when opportunities have come, I’d imagine with steady progress, those should come reasonably soon into camp.
And along those lines, if there’s ample practice reps/work in, I’d think that we could very well see Windler get some solid playing time in preseason action.
Cavs: Windler will hopefully receive his share of meaningful playing time in preseason.
The injuries for him haven’t enabled Windler to get into a consistent rhythm with Cleveland game-to-game, and even with flashes of it, the shooting from him wasn’t nearly what one thought it might’ve been last season. He knocked in 40.6 percent of his three-point attempts in his four-year collegiate career at Belmont, to that point.
He connected on only 33.8 percent of his three-point attempts in his de facto Year 1 with the Cavs, and leading into him being sidelined with the knee soreness in late March, he was off. That’s just being objective.
Granted, as was noted in an interview with the aforementioned Fedor, Windler was dealing with intense pain before having been sidelined with the knee issue, and that’s obviously going to affect a movement shooter like him.
In a general sense though, I did still think that he could’ve been more effective with at least spot-ups. On those, he placed in just the 15th percentile last season on a frequency of 36.8 percent, per Synergy Sports.
But there were again, flashes for Windler in the shooting sense, and he did previously touch on how when he was being utilized off movement, it was really paying off for him as a shooter, as KJG’s Amadou Sow hit on. That was around when Windler had a two-game span when he hit nine straight three-point shots in late February.
Fortunately, while he might not be 100 percent cleared to be at full-go at the start of camp, I would think that should come sooner than later, and I’d expect to see Windler in there in preseason action.
And in at least two or so of those, or maybe more, he could seemingly receive ample playing time, which could help him establish a rhythm heading into next season, where he’ll need to show he can be an impactful bench contributor.
In preseason, him being able to knock down some shots, display his deep range, of which he does have if he can stay in there and find his stroke, and finish as a cutter and rebound pretty well would be meaningful for him heading into 2021-22.
Plus, Windler hopefully being able to get some real PT alongside offseason trade acquisition Ricky Rubio, who should provide a bench playmaking boost, could definitely be beneficial. The same could go for Windler being able to receive some time with the likes of talented rookie big Evan Mobley, who is a gifted passing big and could aid Dylan as a cutter.
So, hopefully we’ll see Windler, who turns 25 next week, in there for ample preseason PT, at least in a few games. That could make a difference for his confidence heading into a crucial season.
Cleveland is set to begin the preseason on Oct. 5 at the Chicago Bulls. From there, they’ll play at the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 6, against the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 8, versus the Bulls again on Oct. 10 and at the Pacers on Oct. 15.