Zeller, Sloan Headline Cavs First Summer League Win


NBA Summer League games are fun to watch. NBA Summer League games can also be incredibly frustrating when you’re primarily watching guys who are only getting an authentic team jersey if they go to the Cavalier Team Shop like you or me and purchase one. Sometimes, these soon-to-be-forgotten names and faces get in the way of who you want to be the headliners. That seems to be some of the case with Dion Waiters. It has not to this point, however, affected Tyler Zeller one bit. The Cavaliers took game two of the Summer League against the D-League Select team by a 94-88 margin in a faster pace game than the crawl that was the Bobcats matchup Sunday night.

Let’s start with Tyler Zeller, who appears destined to be the darling of this week long endeavor for Cavs fans. The 7-footer stuffed the stat line with 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting to compliment a 9-for-10 effort at the free throw stripe. Tyler worked well from the left block on multiple occasions, using pass fakes, step throughs, and a drop step hook to put some points on the board. He also has the talent to move without the ball and make a difference on the offensive glass. While the former Tar Heel doesn’t do anything exceptional, he does a lot of things well. He has shown in a short time1 that he’s ready to step in and contribute from the outset.

As for Dion Waiters, it was another rough night sprinkled with glimmers of hope. Dion shot just 4-of-14 from the field, but the shots he did take were inside the arc and more aggressive in nature. Instead of settling, Waiters did a little better job probing the defense. The problem was he had about three layups that he wasn’t able to finish. Dion did have a nice sweeping up and under layup on a slash to the hoop early in addition to a corner jumper, but after that for the remainder of the first half he was passive. Sadly, if you had dropped in on that second quarter of action with no prior knowledge, you’d have a hard time picking out who was the #4 pick. Waiters did bounce back late, taking over the point in a few key possessions. He hit a big three pointer at the top of the key then on the next possession finished a transition opportunity off a made basket. This break was made possible thanks to a great pass from Zeller that resulted in a powerful uncontested slam. On defense, Waiters didn’t really do anything of note except show Coach Scott that he really needs to get into shape and use his hands and arms less on that end of the floor. Waiters apparently tweaked his ankle in the first quarter but played through it the rest of the game.

With Tristan Thompson sitting out last night’s contest, there were several other noteworthy performances from Cavaliers who will likely be on the roster come October. Backup point guard Donald Sloan turned in a 19-point performance which included several key free throws late in the contest.2 With the Cavaliers still not ready to compete for deep playoff runs, I’m content to have Sloan handle the point guard duties for this season along with Waiters. Samardo Samuels posted 11 points and 7 boards in 21 minutes, and he seems to have an extra speed in his moves to the basket. We got our first look at the newly re-signed Luke Harangody, who scored 12 points in 18 minutes, and of the lesser-knowns, point guard T.J. Campbell had 11 points in 19 minutes.

The Cavaliers have their third game of the Summer League tonight at 8:30 pm against Phoenix.

(Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE)

  1. Again, it’s important to keep summer league reactions – both good and bad – in check. []
  2. Sloan was 8-of-10 from the line overall and 5-of-8 from the floor. []

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Sloan might be able to be the backup if another proven one isn’t found. Waiters looks like he needs to get in shape and hit the gym. I think it’s clear from just two games that his contributions will come off the dribble getting to the basket. Better physical conditioning should only improve on that ability.

  • mgbode

    That better not be planA or planB even for backup PG. He has no 3pt shot, shoots poorly on jumpers and when driving, a low assist rate and an overall negative WS.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well they must like Sloan for some reason they kept him after that series of 10 day contracts. I liked Hudson myself but honestly right now I don’t think a backup PG position is all that important. Short term I mean for winning. This team as currently constructed will take it’s lumps this upcoming season.

  • mgbode

    Hudson was incredibly inefficient. I liked neither. They were needed last year after trading Sessions and either can be a 3rd PG, but I don’t want a guy like that backing up Irving because it’ll end up increasing his minutes (as Scott gets fed-up with the PG2 production)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They’d still have Waiters and that scrub Gibson let him bring the ball up he doesn’t do anything else anyways. Man when is this guys contract up I hate even typing his name.

  • Jack

    Tough not to be a little bummed by Dion’s approach so far…

    …especially when we’re playing against the D-League all-stars…

    …and when other rooks are looking much smoother early on.

    Just wish we didn’t have to start wondering already…because even if you’re reserve judgment, it’s nagging already.

  • BrownsFanSF

    Agreed. He is passing better than I thought though. Defense and shooting have been pretty rough.

  • Chucky Brown

    so barea then?

  • Cooley Ford

    Can anyone who saw the game tell me whether or not the missed layup by Waiters looked to be a function of his conditioning? The same goes for the lackluster defense.

    Based on what I’ve read, it seems like he’d be noticeably more effective if he brings his conditioning up to game speed. Is this assessment accurate?

  • SDA

    Watching right now. could be some conditioning. To me it’s more like he’s just not in any kinda flow. Maybe trying to live up to his pick? Seems to me he’s just being a rookie, I hope. Where Zeller looks like he’s been here before. I assume that is a result of him being older and drafted lower. Waiters is showing flashes but seems to be unsure when it comes to the finish.

  • BrownsFanSF

    Spot on. Maybe a little conditioning, he looks slow on defense

  • Yeah, I’m getting to be a bit concerned about Dion. I know it’s only Summer League, but man, I don’t like it. I want to see something that shows me he’s gonna be alright. I need consoling in the worst way.

  • TSR3000

    Waiters will be fine when paired with KI.