Monday, July 16, 2012

What happens in Vegas

In the days leading up to the Cavs first summer league game against the Bobcats, I found myself much more excited than any person should be for an exhibition game.

The chance to break out the Kyrie Irving-Dion Waiters back court duo for a test drive while also getting a first look at Tyler Zeller and another helping of Tristan Thompson made the match up worth watching.

When Irving broke his hand the day before in practice it dampened my enthusiasm some but still seeing the rookies for the first time together still brought a level of importance to the game.

The game did little to change my opinion on the two newest Cavs in any light. As expected, the play was pretty sloppy with constant turnovers and whistles dominating.

One thing I can take away is that Waiters isn't afraid to be aggressive on offense and I envision that being a good thing once paired with the R.O.Y. His Chris Webber moment at the end was a bonehead mistake but one I'd rather have him making now and one that he should learn from.

Zeller nailed some long two-pointers and really continued to do the things that made him so successful the past few years in college. I love the way he runs the floor and rebounds. Pairing him with both Thompson and Anderson Varejao is going to be great for this team's ability to keep possessions alive and should lead to a lot of second chance points.

The first time Samardo Samuels stepped on the court I had to do a double take to make sure it was the same guy who struggled to make it up and down the floor all season. Samuels must have finally listened to Byron Scott's complaints about his weight. While he still looked like the player from a season ago, it's nice to see he's taking his conditioning seriously now and could help him stick around as a big man off the bench.

The Cavs are back in action again tonight against the D-League Select Team and I expect for Waiters to look a little more comfortable in his second professional game.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Basketball Never Stops

By: Kyle Schimming

The 2012 NBA season wrapped up on June 21st with the Heat winning a surprisingly easy series in five games over Oklahoma City.
 Exactly one week later the league welcomed a new crop of rookies into the fold with the NBA Draft and about 48 hours later free agency kicked off. A jam packed offseason continued today with the beginning of the summer league down in Orlando.

Just 18 days after the final game of one of the most exciting NBA seasons in recent years came to an end, the page has been officially turned towards next season, making the NBA a yearlong event.
NBA TV is covering the entire summer league slate and when you throw in the team of all-stars preparing for the Olympics and the ongoing Dwight Howard trade talks there is nearly as much going on in early July as there was throughout the lockout shortened season.

I can't get enough of the 24/7 constant stream on action going on with the league. Whether it's a game of undrafted free agents and NBA bench players battling it out in front of a hundred of so in attendance or the possibility of the Cavs jumping in tobenefit from the Howard Sweepstakes, I'm welcoming it with open arms.

 And as with everything, I have an opinion on what I've seen both on and off the court during this wild period.

·         Based solely on the reported details to the three-way trade involving the Cavs, I love the move for the franchise going forward. The chance to add a little depth so the bench isn't filled with the likes of D.J. Kennedy and Manny Harris throughout the season would be nice. This trade is more about the assets we can accumulate than it is getting Kris Humphries but I'm a fan of Humphries' game and those assets that will come along could prove to be valuable down the line.

·         Jared Sullinger proved that his game translates great to the NBA...summer league. The former Buckeye delivered his familiar line of 20 points and six rebounds in just 24 minutes of action in the win over the Thunder. After watching Sullinger dominate college basketball the past two years I expect him to have a great career in the pros. There will be a lot of teams regretting the decision to pass on the power forward on draft night.

·         Perry Jones III had flashes of potential and also a few stretches where he was hardly noticeable, so basically exactly what should be expected from him after his play at Baylor the past two seasons.

·         I've touched on the Cavs decision to choose Tristan Thompson over Jonas Valanciunas with last year’s #4 pick last year. Nobody knows how that decision will look in a few years but one thing I'm certain of is that the Cavs lucked out when the Jazz took Enes Kanter one spot ahead. I'm not sure he would have landed in Cleveland, but he's been such a disappointment thus far in Utah. He showed no improvement going up against Detroit's rookie big man Andre Drummond and doesn't appear to be a starting forward in the league going forward.

·         The Cavs are set to finalize their own summer league roster in the next day or so. This will be a good chance for Kyrie to continue to become the leader of the franchise and for the core of youngsters to begin to get comfortable playing together. These games will be the first glimpse of the Kyrie-Dion Waiters backcourt duo in action together. Seeing the highlights of Kyrie playing for the U.S. Select Team has only continued to build on my hopes for the future. The framework for that success will start to be laid down in a Las Vegas gym.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A mock draft state of mind

By: Kyle Schimming

Well nobody will ever be able to say that GM Chris Grant is predictable.

For the second straight year I made the trip down to The Q to watch the NBA Draft and for the second consecutive year the Cavs turned in a selection at #4 that was met with a chorus of groans by most in attendance.

Normally when fans burst into boos it's a result of terrible play or lackluster effort, but the jeers delivered the past two draft nights have been caused by the front office taking a player that most in attendance were not expecting.

Tristan Thompson was a relative unknown to Cavalier fans leading up to last years draft and the same can be said for 2012 draftee Dion Waiters this time around. 

Thompson had an up and down rookie season but proved to be a decent enough selection considering those picked directly before and after him. I like his potential considerably more than Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter going forward and while some say the Cavs whiffed by passing up Jonas Valanciunas, I can't blame Grant for taking the more sure thing rather than falling in love with the mystery of the big Lithuanian. 

Turning my attention towards this years draft, I admittedly was in the majority of Cavs fans who were expecting and hoping for one of the Barnes/Beal/Kidd-Gilchrist trio to land in Cleveland. Most of the conversations overheard prior to and immediately after the selection were focused on these three players and the need to come away with one. 

My disappointment in selecting a college sixth-man turned to excitement the more I learned about Waiters' game and after reading article after article labeling Waiters as one of the prospects with the most potential going forward. 

Considering that some of the people who are now comparing Waiters' ceiling to NBA stars Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook are the same who had him failing to the middle to late lottery, it's clear just how credible mock drafts from even the top league insiders really are. 

None of the so-called "draft experts" foreseen the Cavs choosing the combo guard from Syracuse, or most of the other names called on draft night for that matter. While its fun to look at the various mock drafts leading up to draft night and some do have bits and pieces of correct information, the entire draft process is a game of cat and mouse and fans need to take everything with a grain of salt.

Taking a step back from what is being released by the media and the juicy rumors we'd all love to believe are true, the selections of Thompson and Waiters will ultimately be graded by their play in the future rather than where Chad Ford or Y! Sports had them falling in the draft. 

A backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Waiters leading this team into the future has me intrigued and it's nice to see the beginning of the future core start to take shape. 

Going forward I'm planning on holding off judgement for the direction Chris Grant steers the franchise in, no matter how exciting the ESPN Draft Simulator may seem.