July 28, 2014

Las Vegas Summer League: Cavs top Lakers 70-62

kyrie reggie kerr summer league

This was the highlight of the game, Kyrie in the booth.

Ah, summer league. Where NBA fans can get their first looks at the rookies taken in last months draft.

I’ve been pretty jazzed about the Cavs offseason and draft, so I decided to give the NBA my $15 and watch the newest Cavaliers, Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev.

What’s that? Bennett is rehabbing in Cleveland and Karasev is playing in Russia?

Oh.

Well, regardless, I can still watch Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and second round pick Carrick Felix play for Cleveland’s summer league team. 

To call this game ugly would be an understatement. The play was choppy, the defense came and went and too many players were trying to do too much to impress the multitude of scouts in attendance.

The Cavs began the game  in a quick 6-0 hole and it took them four minutes to score their first basket.  The Cavs trailed 18-10 after the ten minute first period but managed to crawl back in the second period, heading into halftime trailing just 26-23. Ya. This wasn’t pretty.

The basket opened up in the second half.  Players were more loose and comfortable in the second half and shots actually went in. The Cavs cut the Laker lead to just one, 48-47, heading into the fourth quarter. Cleveland upped the defensive intensity in the final period and pulled away from the Los Angeles late for the 70-62 victory.

Cavalier Jermaine Taylor had a game-high 17 points on 5-9 shooting (2-3 from downtown) and Tyler Zeller pitched in 15 points and seven rebounds. Marcus Landry, brother of former Warriors and new Kings forward Carl Landry, led the Lakers with 14 points.

Random Thoughts:

Dion Waiters: This was not the start you wanted to see from Dion. Waiters finished a dismal 1-11 from the floor and went 1-3 from the stripe. Waiters seemed to be pressing; he attacked the rim and tried to split a lot double teams, but he often got himself stuck in no-man’s land. The most concerning thing is that Waiters was still fading away on jumpers coming off of curls and screens. Despite the poor shooting, Waiters grabbed four boards, dished out five assists, and finished with a +/- of +2. When Dion attacked and passed, he found his teammates in great spots for buckets, but he had trouble getting himself in comfortable shooting positions.

Tyler Zeller: Solid, if unspectacular game from Tyler. Zeller finished 6-10 from the floor and 3-4 from the line for a 15 point, seven rebound evening. It’s hard to get a good read on Zeller in this format, as his big issue is whether or not he can defend NBA bigmen (and Real NBA Bigmen don’t usually play in summer league). I will say it was nice to see Zeller finish off some and-ones after contact.

Carrick Felix: I’m in! The second round pick hustled, hit some threes (2-3 from downtown) and had two really nice blocks (one on a weakside help and another on a three-point closeout). Felix finished with 14 points and six boards (he really crashed the offensive glass well). His jumper didn’t look super great, but he was able to get the shot off pretty quickly.

Announcers: This is my first time buying the summer league package and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Is it just a video feed of the game? Am I getting announcers? Will they be a couple of no-names? Nope. The announcers for the Cavs-Lakers summer league game were Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller and I thought they did a pretty good job. It was kind of crazy how much they focused on the Cavaliers. Now, the Lakers aren’t exactly in a good spot, but this almost felt like a Cavs broadcast.  Both loved the Bynum signing and really liked the other moves the Cavs made this summer. Given that this was a game between the Cavs and the Lakers, the topic of LeBron’s free agency was brought here and there (what amused me to no end, was that both Kerr and Miller endorsed the Lakers bottoming out and tanking for Andrew Wiggins).

It hasn’t quite sunken in that Mike Brown is once again the Cavaliers’ coach. Brown joined Kerr and Miller in the booth during the second quarter and he was pretty entertaining (certainly better than when owner Dan Gilbert joins Austin Carr and Fred McLeod in the booth and AC and Fred overlaugh at Gilbert’s jokes). Kerr needled Brown on former Butler coach Brad Stevens going to the Celtics right after Brown’s son Elijah committed to Butler and Brown played it off well, saying that both Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers said they’d draft Elijah to make it up to the Brown family. Coach Mike also did a good job of passing off the Bynum questions, as he hasn’t officially signed with the Cavaliers yet.

One exchange that was troubling:

  • Kerr: Is he [Anthony Bennett] a four? Is he a three? Is he a combo?
  • Brown: That’s a great question.

GREAT

Brown went on to say that he plans to begin with Bennett at the four and then move him to the three when Bennett becomes more comfortable. Brown also said that he loves that new addition Earl Clarke can guard four positions and that he plans on playing Clarke at the three.

Kyrie Irving: In a familiar sight, Kyrie Irving was sitting on the bench in street clothes. Unlike the depressingly normal circumstances, Kyrie wasn’t injured, he was there to support his teammates in summer league. In all seriousness, I love love love that Kyrie is in Vegas with these guys. He started the game watching the action from the end of the bench but he moved in between Zeller and Dion once the two second-year players took a breather.

Kyrie also joined Reggie and Kerr in the booth. He discussed how he’s been in Vegas since Monday and has been holding team workouts and attending summer league practices. Kyrie discussed how he and Dion did too much “my turn, you turn” on offense and he needs to improve defensively. He talked about how Brown told him needs to be a leader. Kyrie also dropped the bomb that Tristan Thompson is developing a right handed jump shot and he’s pumped to run pick-and-pops with Tristan.

and finally…

The Cavs next game is Sunday at 5:00 pm against the Memphis Grizzlies.

 

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Ben is being gracious when he calls that “game” ugly it was worse but then again it is the summer league. The highlights were definitely Irving and Brown sitting in with Kerr and Miller. Reggie Miller annoys the he&% out of me anymore but he was really cooing over the Cavaliers. I like Steve Kerr much better but he also did plenty of Cavalier coverage. Of course between the Cavaliers and the Lakers the Cavaliers had far more to talk about including the talk of 2014.

    As for the game like I said it was the summer league. Waiters was horrible but again it was the summer league. Tyler Zeller was extremely active. Waiters was horrible. Felix was all over the place and he’s actually bigger then what I remembered from his college highlights. Have I mentioned Waiters was terrible? But it’s the summer league, first game in fact.

    One last thing about Mike Brown and his tremendous in-depth answer about how he plans on using Anthony don’t call me Tony Bennett. Beautiful. That’s the one time coach of the year that I remember so well. I’m going to play it off much like that entire showing last night and just say it’s the summer league, first game in fact!

  • Jaker

    Earl CLARK*… No “e” on the end

    And did you say that TT is developing a RIGHT handed jumper? Shouldn’t he be working on his left first?

  • JHop

    Upset me watching Dion’s performance after watching Andre Drummond absolutely dominate the Orlando Summer League.

    As someone who’s expected to start on a playoff team, Dion should never have games like this.

  • woofersus

    I somewhat expected a slow start for Dion. Maybe because he started off so bad last year, and maybe because I know he’s a streaky shooter and Summer league isn’t full of well coordinated offensive sets, but either way the spacing was terrible, he rarely got the ball in a good spot, and he’s just not a guy you want grabbing the ball off a screen and jacking up a fadeaway. He got to the basket and got fouled a few times, but he got double teamed a fair amount by an aggressive defensive team because Quinn is terrible, and could easily be harried by a power forward in the open court. Anyway, I’m not that worried about Dion. It was nice to see him working a little harder on defense. He definitely hustled at least.

    Other observations:

    Tyler Zeller looked a little meatier to me. Maybe 10lbs or so to my eye. He worked hard underneath and showed the 15-18 foot shot we all remember, as well as an ability to put the ball on the floor and go to the basket, which he flashed a couple times last year but rarely used. The fact that he muscled through a foul to get the and-1 a couple of times reinforced the idea that he’s worked to get stronger. I was disappointed to see that he’s still almost exclusively getting the ball 10-15 feet from the basket. He scored most of his points in the paint at North Carolina and has a post game that has been utilized zero amount so far in his pro career. Nonetheless, I was high on him last year and I still am. He’s no (healthy) Bynum, but I expect he’ll make it hard to keep him on the bench.

    Chris Quinn is awful. Clearly a downgrade from Sloan. I’d like to see more of Dellavedova as at this early stage I thought he was better on both ends by a fair margin.

    Carrick Felix impressed me with his hustle and athleticism. He is as advertised on defense. He’s raw offensively, but with a little bit of potential for a reliable outside shot in the future. He could become that 3 and D guy we’ve been wanting for so long.

    I need more time to formulate solid opinions on Taylor and Kadji, but color me at least intrigued.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    My feeling is that brown will play Clark and Bennett together, slowly trying Bennett at a quasi 3/4 until he starts doing it with others at the four like Thompson.

  • SDA

    I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely hopeful for this year

  • Grif_E

    Nonsense, Dion is just nestbuilding for Lebron next year. He has to feel at home, and how else is he going to do that without someone Boshing things up?

  • Jason Hurley

    That’s totally right. Good players should never, under any circumstances, EVER have an off day. Nope. Never.

  • JHop

    Not when playing a shortened Summer League schedule against teams composed of guys who can barely crack a European roster nonetheless an NBA one.

    If we’re expeted Dion Waiters to near 20 ppg this season against legitimate NBA competition, he should be making minced meat of these roster-bubble Summer League players.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    You’d think so, but I heard the same thing from the announcers when watching the game and they commented on how he’s left-handed but using his right, so I’m guessing it’s true. Hey if your jumper with your dominant hand is as flat and terrible as TT’s, why not build it up from scratch using the other hand?

  • Jason Hurley

    My point is that guys have nights where their shot doesn’t fall. One game at the beginning of summer league is not a definitive statement on Dion Waiters’ future.