Cleveland Cavaliers 2013 NBA Summer League Power Rankings

The dream is over. The Cleveland Cavaliers run at the 2013 NBA Summer League championship came to end on Saturday in the quarterfinals. It was a good run though for the squad that put on the wine and gold in Las Vegas the past couple weeks. They finished with a record of 3-2 and had some nice performances from players already on the roster as well as some guys looking for an NBA home.[1] So to put a bow on the 2013 Summer League season let’s run down the power rankings for the Cavaliers…

THE DRAFTED PLAYERS

1. Dion Waiters—It was a rough start for Dion to his summer when he shot a ghastly 1-11 from the field. However, overall it was a very strong Summer League for Waiters as he showed improvement in many areas of his game. Even in that first game, despite the poor shooting, I didn’t think he forced the issue too much. He made a lot of nice passes to set up teammates and came away with five assists in the contest. His high game of course came in the fourth game against the Spurs when Dion dropped 27 points, grabbed 6 boards, and had his post-game interviewed bombed by his new head coach Mike Brown who only wanted to praise him for his defense. Dion didn’t shoot great over the course of his four games (only .373 from the field, .154 from three) but he showed greatly improved effort and understanding on defense and also made a lot of really good passes to set up teammates who didn’t always convert. One other thing that we’ll have to keep track of with Dion’s game going forward is how many “Kobe assists” he gets. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the “Kobe assist” you can read about it in detail here, but the long-of-the-short of it is that it’s a missed shot that leads to an offensive rebound and put-back by one of your teammates. The rebounder is open to get the easy basket because the initial shooter was drawing so much attention. Another former great employer of the “Kobe assist” was Allen Iverson. Anyways, I noticed this happen several times with Dion this summer where he’d drive to hoop, draw two or three defenders, miss a lay-up, and have one of his teammates grab the offensive board and put it back in it. Again, we’ll have to monitor this aspect of Dion’s game going forward. Just know that all missed shots are not created equal.

2. Tyler Zeller—The other second-year player for the Cavs had his open atrocity of a game, which came in the fourth contest against the Lakers where he finished with one point, five rebounds, and got pushed around by Aron Baynes. But overall you can’t hate on Zeller’s numbers. He finished averaging 10-8 and played improved interior defense. The Cavs didn’t run a whole lot offense for Zeller, mostly just pick-and-pops, so he wasn’t being asked to put up big numbers in the post. He didn’t do anything special necessarily, but Zeller faired pretty well.[2]

3. Carrick Felix—The breakout “star” of the summer for Cavs fans! He basically blew up in his first game, scoring 14 points and playing helter skelter defense all over the court. From a scoring standpoint that ended up being his apex and he finished averaging 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds over the five games. But he grabs the third spot in the power rankings because of his relentless hustle and energy. It’s obvious to see what Chris Grant and Mike Brown saw in him to warrant taking him with the No. 33 pick. He hustles like crazy, gets on the floor for loose balls, runs the floor on fast breaks, and plays great defense. If he can develop a consistent three point shot he will have no problem sticking in the league.

CHANCE TO MAKE THE TEAM

4. Jermaine Taylor—I couldn’t hold him off much longer. Taylor was really pushing to be higher on this list. The dude can flat-out ball. He almost has a bit of a street-ball mentality to him. He loves to shoot and has a dynamicness (made up word) to his game that can’t be missed. You notice when Taylor is on the court. He made the most of his one starting shot in place of Waiters in the final game when he poured in 20 points. Additionally, rumors of his very impressive performances during the pregame lay-up lines dunks circulate the Twitters and created a bit of added intrigue about Mr. Jermaine Taylor.

5. Cory Higgins—I like this guy. He averaged 9 points a game during the Summer League and showed great poise on the court. For a point guard you’d like to see him average more than 1.8 assists but that clearly isn’t his game. He’s more of a scoring point guard. Which, as a potential third point guard on a team (which is what he’d be if he made the Cavs roster), is just fine. At 6’5” he has great height for a guard. Much like Taylor, he made the most of that final game without Waiters on the court as he put up a 17-2-4-3 line shooting 4-9 from the field and 8-8 from the free throw line. And one fun/random note about Higgins: in the first two Summer League games he combined for a +/- of +32. So there’s that too.

6. Matthew Dellavedova—The other point guard competing for a spot on the roster acquitted himself very well also. Not as much of a scorer as Higgins (only 2.8 PPG and .273 FG%) he’s a gifted passer and showed that he knows how to run an offense. Things on the court just looked under control when Dellavedova was running the point. Ultimately I don’t know that he has size or athleticism and quickness to compete at the NBA level which is really too bad. He’s a gifted basketball who, if he doesn’t make an NBA roster, will probably do great overseas.

7. Kenny Kadji—He was a starter at the beginning of Summer League then went to a reserve role later but I liked Kadji a lot. He was one of the guys that I was intrigued about coming in. He’s a stretch four who is also a pretty good interior defender. I like the versatility of his game as he can shoot from the outside but also bang in the post. Make no mistake, Kadji isn’t a great player, that’s why he went undrafted. But I think he’ll get some run in the NBA for sure at some point, even if it’s not in Cleveland. Having a big guy who can come off the bench and hit open threes is a very nice skill for a reserve player in the NBA.

8. Justin Harper—The Prodigal Son!!! Harper, like Taylor and Higgins, had his best scoring performance in that final game (21). He didn’t do a whole lot else in the other games but the best thing I can say for him is that you noticed when he was on the court. And I feel like that’s a compliment in these Summer League games. So often you look at the box score after the game and try to figure when some guy got nine minutes because you have no recollection of seeing him out there. So you’ve got that going for ya, Justin!

THE OTHERS

9. Josh Heytvelt—Let’s just say that if you’re trying to make an NBA team and you get 70 minutes total of playing time that you should probably try and do a little better than 2-7 shooting, 11 rebounds, five turnovers, and 20 fouls.

10. Jared Berggren—Remember when I said that there were guys who somehow got minutes while remaining completely anonymous? Maybe we’ll name that the “Berggren Award” in subsequent summers.

THE BUDDIES

11. Chris Goulding—Kyrie’s buddy from Australia didn’t do so well in his 26 minutes of run in Summer League shooting only 1-9 from the field.

12. Scoop Jardine—It’s too bad for Jardine, Dion’s former Syracuse teammate, that he couldn’t have started the summer on the roster because he never really got going. He only got into the final game where he played a very unspectacular ten minutes. He did grab three rounds though so he can hang his hat on that.

THE DEPARTED

13. Chris Quinn—It’s never fun when you’ve been in the league for six years and you still have to play Summer League to try and stick. It’s even less fun when you play noticeably worse that undrafted rookies, cut your head in the second game, and then get cut.


[1] When the Cavs made the signing of Andrew Bynum official they also cut Chris Quinn and Kevin Jones, opening up two roster spots that potentially could be filled by some guys from this team.

[2] Both Waiters and Zeller only played four of the five games. They sat out the final game against the Heat nursing minor injuries and resting up for their Team USA camp coming up.

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