Last week, we mentioned that the summer league was rolling around that this would be our shot to see what Christian Eyenga was packing. Our most recent first-round draft choice has plenty of upside, but given his competition overseas, he also came with a lot of doubt.
With two games in thus far, we have a few box scores that we can disect. However, let’s start with a review that Eyenga receivedwhile playing in the now infamous five-on-five pick-up games that will be known more for the whole LeBron James/Nike confiscation.
The roster: LeBron, his high school teammate Romeo Travis (now playing pro ball in Germany), Cavs’ reserve Tarence Kinsey, and Cleveland draft picks Danny Green and Christian Eyenga — or, as I write in my notebook because I can’t remember his name, “#30.”
I’m not alone. Seated near me is a prominent unofficial member of the extended Nike fam, and he spends pretty much the entire game talking sh*t on Eyenga — though, granted, some of it is deserved. The quick scouting report: Dude is very athletic and entirely raw as a basketball prospect. He follows a wet three-pointer with back-to-back airballs. He alternates made dunks with failed dunks on a pretty even basis. He attempts no offense in between. If he gets the sh*t coached out of him the next few years (most likely back in Europe) he might be a player someday. That said, it was maybe harsh, in the middle of the game, to ask loudly, “Is this the first time he’s played on a wood court?”
Wow. Well, I guess it could have been worse. He did say he’s “athletic,” so we do have that going for us. Also, keep in mind that this was simply a pick-up game and the intensity level may be a bit different if in an organized, “must win” type of situation.
The line we have heard the entire time is that he needs coaching. He boasts a ton of upside, and the Cavaliers scouts love the athleticism he brings to the table. But as Rock mentioned in an email a few weeks back, a lot of what we’re reading wreaks of players like Darius Miles.
The good thing is, Eyenga was not a lottery pick. He also won’t be asked to contribute right away, if even this decade. He can hone his skills overseas, at no cost to the team, and then come here and perhaps convert back-to-back dunks.
If you’re curious about the summer league, it hasn’t gotten much better.
In the first game, Eyenga came off of the bench against the Lakers and went 0-for-4 from the floor and finished with one point. He did pull down three rebounds and recorded a steal, but the two turnovers didn’t help. One point. Two turnovers.
Thankfully, Eyenga was a little more productive during his second attempt as the Cavs locked up with the Bucks yesterday afternoon. In 24 minutes off of the bench, he tallied 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Eyenga added three rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot.
The entire day, however, will be overlooked thanks to Milwaukee’s first-rounder Brandon Jennings and his 23 points, eight assists, five steals and four three-pointers.
Let’s hope that Eyenga can receive similar coaching and competition that Jennings did in his year overseas. I know that a lot of fans are already writing off the man from Zaire, but I’m still holding out hope. Seems low-risk, high-reward at this point. Here’s hoping that he progresses through the rest of the summer league and then continues to roll from there.