As the 2023-24 season tipped off, with the other players involved on the perimeter, and Cleveland's offseason moves, one couldn't have had lofty expectations for Sam Merrill.
Merrill, who was originally picked up via 10-day deal last season, was eventually signed to a multi-year contract in the closing stretch of the 2022-23 regular season, with it being guaranteed for the rest of last season. He is essentially the player with the 14th roster spot on the Cavaliers currently, with his deal at the moment having a guarantee date for this season of Jan. 10.
With the Cavaliers, Merrill hasn't gotten many looks thus far this season in meaningful action, and given the guys in the fold, and with Cleveland getting healthier, it's tough to foresee when or if Merrill will. To begin the year, Merrill has had 2.7 points per contest in 8.1 minutes per game, in what's amounted to nine appearances, out of 18 outings. He's shot 33.3 percent from three-point land thus far this year (eight-of-21).
That said, though injuries and lack of continuity with the starting situation because of that have factored some into Cleveland's offensive inconsistencies, with Merrill's shooting prowess, maybe it'd behoove them to get Merrill some chances. He has been a knockdown shooter in G League action.
Should the Cleveland Cavaliers utilize Merrill in some spurts in upcoming games for a shooting boost?
Merrill again has not played much with the Cavaliers, and last season, his splits came primarily from his play in the last two regular season games for Cleveland, when they were locked into their seeding. But Merrill has shown flashes in his chances with the Cavaliers, and he was a G League standout with the Cleveland Charge last season.
With the Charge, Merrill had splits of 15.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per outing, and canned 42.3 percent of his three-point attempts, which were 8.1 per game. Merrill was also one of the top performers for the Cavs in Las Vegas Summer League, where he was named All-Summer League First Team for his efforts. Then, Merrill had 18.8 points per game, knocked in 43.2 percent of his deep attempts on 11.2 attempts per game, and he was one of the flamethrowers for a Cleveland team that won its first Summer League title.
There haven't been many looks for Merrill with the Cavaliers, however, and with the starting backcourt involved, along with pieces such as Max Strus, Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert, it's difficult to envision where the minutes will come for the 6-foot-4 Merrill.
Aside from garbage time, with Cleveland getting healthier on the perimeter, even with Merrill being a capable movement shooter, with his limitations in other aspects, and defensively, the opportunities likely won't be there.
But, for a potential shooting boost in some spurts in upcoming games, and to increase their three-point volume, there could be a case for some Merrill minutes. He has proven himself in that area in the G League, and at times, has shown the Cavs he could maybe give them a spark in that regard in spot minutes.
Granted, Cleveland getting healthier in their regular rotation and hopefully becoming a more cohesive unit in games and weeks ahead should seemingly play out, and that should help their offense and perimeter shooting efforts.
Having said that, though, Merrill could give them more shooting pop in spurts. Even with shooting improvements from the offseason, regardless of the injuries and new faces getting acclimated, Cleveland is 24th in threes made per game, and 21st and 20th in threes attempted and three-point shooting percentage thus far. So, getting Merrill in games a bit more could make a difference there, provided the Cavaliers have lineup balance with defense and/or playmaking.
Maybe in upcoming games Cleveland could benefit from Merrill run; it's just hard to forecast if those will come in meaningful instances for the 27-year-old.