Is it too early to crown the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA champions?
The Cavs have started well in the Las Vegas Summer League so far, winning their first two games. While you can always read too much into these games, there's no doubting Cleveland is a franchise on the rise. It should make the playoffs next season and only improve as the years go on.
However, the Cavaliers are not the only team to watch this week in the Summer League. There are plenty of entertaining teams with some intriguing players.
As teams start preparing for the playoffs, here are four games to highlight on Monday and Tuesday.
New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Bobcats: Monday, July 15, at 4 p.m. ET
Maybe Cody Zeller wasn't such a bad pick after all.
The Charlotte Bobcats surprised a lot of people when they selected Zeller fourth overall. Although it's only Summer League, he's gotten off to a great start.
Zeller scored 21 points and brought down 13 boards in the Bobcats' 86-80 win over the Dallas Mavericks. It was a marked improvement over Zeller's first Summer League game. It will be interesting to see if he follows up his performance against the Mavs with another strong showing.
On the other side is a New York Knicks team with a lot of interesting players who have a lot to prove.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has looked good in his first two games. C.J. Leslie was undrafted but could be a major steal. He's shown flashes, but he hasn't put in a solid overall performance yet. Jeremy Tyler has bounced around the world a bit already. With a good showing in the Summer League, he might get himself an NBA spot.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New Orleans Pelicans: Monday, July 15, at 6 p.m. ET
People can talk about the 2013 draft class all they want, but it's not as if 2012 was all that great, either. There were some very good players interspersed with a lot of players who failed to deliver on the hype. Two such players are featured in this game.
Dion Waiters will be a player to watch. He was not very efficient offensively last season and has started 8-of-28 from the field in the Summer League. That was largely due to Waiters going 1-of-11 in his first game. He needs to become much more efficient from the floor if the Cavaliers are going to improve.
Of course, as bad as Waiters was at times, he can't hold a candle to Austin Rivers.
The 10th overall pick in 2012 averaged just 6.2 points on 37.2 percent shooting in his rookie season. Those are dreadful numbers and led to Rivers actually having negative offensive win shares. In the Summer League, Rivers has averaged 19.5 points a game. This could be the spark that he needs to make the necessary jump next season.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Miami Heat: Tuesday, July 16, at 4 p.m. ET
Do you like blocks? If so, you're going to love this game.
Nobody has blocked more shots in men's college basketball history than Jarvis Varnado. He built himself a reputation as a rim-protector while at Mississippi State and won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award for three seasons. The former Bulldog has totaled seven blocks so far in his two Summer League games.
On the other side is Gorgui Dieng. While not as prolific a shot-blocker as Varnado, Dieng is equally equipped to scare opposing players out of the paint.
It will be fun when these two guys are on the floor together. Neither is offensively adept, but what they do on the defensive end will provide plenty of entertainment.
Golden State Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Tuesday, July 16, at 6:30 p.m. ET
You could put the Golden State Warriors in a pickup game and they'd still probably be fun to watch. Although, the Warriors did only manage to score 56 points in their win over the Washington Wizards.
Still, if you need a reason to watch this game, I'll give you two: Kent and Bazemore.
Kent Bazemore is more known for his antics on the bench. He was only on the floor for a little over four minutes per game last year. In Golden State's first Summer League game, Bazemore played 33 minutes and scored 21 points.
Sure it's only Summer League, but this is Bazemore's best chance to prove that he can become a part of the Warriors' rotation during the regular season.
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