No. 5: Sam Merrill should see the court
The Cleveland Cavaliers wanted to add shooting this summer, and they spent a lot of money to bring in Max Strus, Georges Niang and Ty Jerome. Add in Emoni Bates, and every meaningful pickup this summer had “shooting” as the top item on their strengths list.
What if the best shooter for this next season was already on the roster? Sam Merrill caught on with the Cleveland Charge and shot the lights out in the G League, earning the Cavs’ 15th roster spot near the end of last season. That deal came with a non-guaranteed contract for this season, and the expectation was that the Cavaliers would waive him as soon as they found a better option.
Then Merrill went into Las Vegas Summer League and lit the place on fire, finishing as a First Team All-Summer League player. He hit 25 3-pointers in just five games, and his shooting and gravity were the foundation on which their offense ran. With so many teams in Vegas without reliable shooting, Merrill’s contributions were a major part of their run to the championship.
Merrill is slight and will be taken advantage of on defense, but he otherwise would bring elite shooting and reasonable playmaking to a movement shooter role. That’s an exciting player to work into the rotation. He will be somewhat redundant with Max Strus playing starter’s minutes, but he’s dangerous enough that the Cavs should try and get him onto the court on a regular basis.
Sam Merrill may be able to provide a similar impact to Strus; he might also just have been on a summer hot streak and not enough of a plus-shooter to make up for his defensive limitations. The Cavs owe it to themselves to give him some minutes and find out.