Christian Eyenga Struggling in D-League; Is Cavs Forward Officially an NBA Bust?

Greg SwartzCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJanuary 16, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 25:  Christian Eyenga #8 of the of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after the loss to the Boston Celtics on January 25, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. This would be the 18th straight loss for the Cavaliers this season. The Celtics defeated the Cavaliers 112-95.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Christian Eyenga is a phenomenal athlete.

Note I said athlete, not basketball player.

The Cleveland Cavaliers second-year guard/forward was supposed to come into the 2011-2012 season and challenge for big minutes off an opportunistic Cavaliers bench.

Eyenga was praised in his rookie year for his athleticism and defensive potential on the wing. He played in 44 games, making 18 starts while averaging 6.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

After an interesting offseason that saw him grow from 6'5" to 6'7", it was expected Eyenga would beat out Alonzo Gee for the backup small forward spot. After all, Christian is a former Cavalier first-round pick, while Gee was signed from the Developmental League last season.

As it turns out, from whence Gee came, there Eyenga goes.

The Cavaliers sent Christian down to the Canton Charge, and the results haven't been pretty.

In his first D-League game this season, Eyenga was ejected after recording two technical fouls.

In five games overall, the Charge have gone 2-3, with Eyenga only averaging 9.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 25 minutes a contest.

These are alarmingly bad numbers for someone who was expected to be a strong contributor to an NBA team this season.


In fact, his numbers are even worse than last year when he began the season with the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League when he averaged 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

With this seemingly regression, is it safe to call Eyenga a bust?

It's tempting, but I would say not yet.

As it stands currently, Eyenga would be hard pressed to find minutes on a Cavaliers team playing better than expected. Anthony Parker has the starting shooting guard position locked down, and Alonzo Gee has been the Cavaliers most improved player. Omri Casspi has struggled early but continues to start and receive good minutes from Byron Scott. Boobie Gibson has been enjoying a strong start, and was referred to as Scott as the Cavs' best wing defender.

With few minutes available, Eyenga is best suited to play for the Charge for now to continue to develop his game. His best bet is to hope Anthony Parker is traded before the deadline, which would open up some minutes at the shooting guard position.

With all his potential and athleticism, it would be a shame to give up on Christian Eyenga at this point, although his play must improve if he wants to be part of the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers.