Cleveland Cavaliers: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines
The 2012 NBA season was one of inconsistent success for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The young Cavs unit, which was led by rookies Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, began the season at a respectable mark of 13-17.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers' young core couldn't maintain the success and subsequently fell out of playoff contention in the final half of the season.
With the summer upon us and the offseason underway, the Cavaliers continue to look towards the future. After landing both Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller in the NBA draft, the reasoning behind such an outlook is well-warranted.
Fortunately for those prospectives and hopefuls, the Summer League will showcase the talents and abilities of every young player the Cavaliers have to offer. From reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving to the undrafted no-name, abilities will be on full display.
So who will shine? Who will emerge with the most momentum entering the 2012 NBA regular season? All of those questions and more will be answered in no time at all.
Summer League Roster
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T.J. Campbell: 5'9", 24, Portland Pilotes
Kyrie Irving: 6'3", 20, Duke Blue Devils
Matt Pressey: 6'2", 23, Missouri Tigers
Donald Sloan: 6'3", 24, Texas A&M Aggies
Garrett Temple: 6'6", 26, LSU Tigers
Dion Waiters: 6'4", 20, Syracuse Orange
Luke Harangody: 6'7", 24, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Justin Holiday: 6'6", 23, Washington Huskies
Rob Jones: 6'6", 23, Saint Mary's Gaels
D.J. Kennedy: 6'6", 22, St. John's Red Storm
Samardo Samuels: 6'9", 23, Louisville Cardinals
Tristan Thompson: 6'9", 21, Texas Longhorns
Michael Eric: 6'11", 24, Temple Owls
Tyler Zeller: 7'0", 22, North Carolina Tar Heels
Photo Credit: NBA.com
Sunday, July 15 at 5:30 p.m. PDT
Charlotte Bobcats vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at Thomas & Mack Center
Monday, July 16 at 5 p.m. PDT
NBA D-League vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at COX Pavilion
Tuesday, July 17 at 5:30 p.m. PDT
Phoenix Suns vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at Thomas & Mack Center
Thursday, July 19 at 5 p.m. PDT
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at COX Pavilion
Friday, July 20 at 1 p.m. PDT
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at COX Pavilion
Are There Four Starters on the Summer League Team?
We know Kyrie Irving is going to start. It's safe to bet that Tristan Thompson will join him. With the selection of Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, two players ate very weak positions, could we actually see four of the Cavaliers' five starters during the Summer League?
Quite simply, the answer is yes.
The key to this year's Summer League will be how quickly this year's rookies can mesh with last year's batch. Should Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters form chemistry before the summer games end, we could see the Cavaliers with a respectable backcourt entering training camp and the regular season.
If Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller find a way to gel, however, this team could be a much more legitimate playoff contender than we may have projected. Young but powerful.
Is This D.J. Kennedy's Year?
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Could this be the year that D.J. Kennedy finally realized his potential and emerges as a star in the making? With a lack of depth at the 3, the answer could be yes for the point forward.
Kennedy is a superb athlete with outstanding ball handling skills. He sees the court well and has a very high basketball IQ, which he pairs with solid length and excellent passing abilities. Throw in the deep range on his jump shot, as well as his top-tier defensive ability, and you have yourself a pretty good option at the 3.
The former St. John's star would have been a first round draft choice in 2011, but suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his ACL. Nevertheless, Kennedy has star upside and could potentially offer the Cavaliers a player with similar abilities to an Andre Iguodala or more 3-oriented Lamar Odom.
Who Will Join Kyrie and Waiters in the Backcourt?
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As of this moment, the Cleveland Cavaliers' backcourt is as thin as any in the NBA. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters both have superstar potential, but beyond the dynamic duo is the underwhelming Daniel Gibson and the questionable Kelenna Azubuike.
So who will impress enough to make the cut and offer depth?
A favorite has to be Donald Sloan, who spent 25 games with the Cavaliers in 2012. Another possibility could be Matt Pressey, whose father Paul is an assistant coach of the Cavaliers' D-League team. In all likelihood, however, this will be an open contest as the Cavaliers look to add a reserve point guard and possible sixth man at the 2.
Let's see who steps up.
How Far Has Tristan Thompson Come?
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When the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, many viewed the decision as a serious stretch. Thompson was viewed as nothing more than an athlete whose basketball skills were subpar at best.
While one could argue that Thompson remains raw in terms of ability, his improvements were marginal as the season progressed. He became a legitimate shot blocking presence in the paint, a sound finisher around the basket and a much better rebounder than previously expected.
As the Summer League rolls around, we'll learn how far Thompson has truly come. If he's progressed on either end of the floor, this Cavaliers team could be a legitimate threat even earlier than we had presumed.
Can Luke Harangody Go from College Star to Pro Player?
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Luke Harangody averaged at least 20 points per game in three of his four years at Notre Dame. He averaged a double-double in two of those seasons, including a 2008 season in which he won Big East Player of the Year.
Unfortunately, his two years in the NBA have not been as rewarding.
Harangody has struggled to find a rhythm at any point in his young career. Fortunately for his development, Harangody closed 2012 out strong. He finished with double-digit scoring outings in two of his final five appearances, including a 16-point and 10-rebound performance against the Washington Wizards.
The question is, how far will Harangody be able to take this development in 2013? The quality of his play in the Summer League will go a long way towards answering that.