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)