July 30, 2014

NBA Lockout: Cavs PF Samardo Samuels is Working on His Jumper

Former Cavalier assistant coach Chris Jent may no longer be employed by the Cleveland NBA franchise, but this has not stopped him from helping improve the shot of players who don the Wine and Gold. 

Following in the footsteps of forwards LeBron James and JJ Hickson, 22-year-old power forward Samardo Samuels has reportedly spent time with Jent during the impasse-ridden offseason, hoping to improve his game away from the basket.  Per The Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer, Samuels has been working on his game for the last several months, ranging from private workouts to Impact League basketball out in Las Vegas, teaming up with the likes of New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups.

Within the interview with Boyer, Samuels spoke highly of being able to play alongside guys who know how to win basketball games - “Everybody can dunk these days,” the 265-pound bruising big man said, “but you remember wins.”  And while the fun and winning and high-level intramural basketball is all well and good, it is his work with Jent that could help transition Samuels from a player who contributed to a 19-win team to one who could help be a key contributor to an NBA team beyond his early-20s. 

Of Samuels’ 6.5 shot attempts per game in 2010, the rookie power forward converted at a woeful rate of 45.6 percent.  He would seemingly start games off with a flurry of dunks and physical post moves before defenses would force him beyond the block where the bottom would subsequently fall out brick by brick.  At the rim in 2010, Samuels was powerful and effective, hitting 61.1 percent of his field goal attempts, half of which were the product of assists.  Beyond three feet, Samuels’ field goal percentage plummeted to 28.1 percent, making a middle-aged Shaquille O’Neal look like Ray Allen. 

It was working with Jent which turned Hickson into a bit more than a one-trick, highly athletic pony, improving his range and thus the space underneith the basket to help implement Byron Scott’s pass-friendly offense.  The recently-traded power forward saw his field goal percentage between 10-and-15 feet improve from 17.1 percent in 2010 to 30.6 percent, a mark that bettered shooting guard Anthony Parker.  Between 16-and-23 feet from the hoop, Hickson improved his conversion rate from 27 percent to 33 percent; Daniel Gibson shot 39 percent from the same range.

Alas, if there is an NBA season to be had, Samuels will undoubtedly share time in the frontcourt with Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao and rookie Tristan Thompson.  Given the lack of offensive pedigree coming from the latter two players, the team could be counting on the Jamaican big man with the best back-to-the-basket footwork on the team to also  improve his play away from the hoop.  Entering the final season of Jamison’s contract with the team, Samuels certainly has the potential to stick with the Wine and Gold long term.  While going overseas could potentially help improve his play, his willingness to put countless hours in the gym while stateside should do just fine. 

Samuels is certainly surrounding himself with the right people.  Execution, however, is the larger piece of the pie.

  • Nobody

    Jamison still has a contract with the Cavs? The lockout may be a good thing…

  • Lyon

    I like what I’ve been hearing about how hard he’s been working this offseason. Let’s hope it comes together for him & the Cavs can reap the benefits.

  • Harv 21

    Ah, b-ball is in the air with the first of the annual I’ve-Worked-Hard-On-My-Jumper-This-Off-Season stories. Fondly recall John Morton coming to camp and announcing that his jumper was now “automatic.” Good times.

    Anyway, nice to have a non-Browns post.

  • mgbode

    LeBron -> Hickson -> Samuels

    At this rate of talent decline, Jent will be helping me with my jumper in about 3 seasons :)

  • C-Bus Kevin

    The who with the what now?

    The NBA can cancel this season for all I care. It’s not like we have much to root for this year.

  • Vengeful Pat

    @5, I see it differently… the NBA season doesn’t heat up until around Christmas (some non-fans would argue later than that), so I don’t know too many people who are going to miss the months of November and December anyway. Like with baseball… would anybody really miss the last two months of the regular season while football is taking the headlines and Sizemore & Hafner are sitting out with injuries? Not me.

  • typo

    Who cares. An insignificant player on an insignificant team in an insignificant sport. Sorry I’m just having a bad day.

  • Shamrock

    He should work on everything. This reminds me just how bad the Cavaliers roster will be this year. If they don’t play we won’t notice.