Cleveland Cavaliers Summer League: Should You Care?

NBA summer leagues are important. They help develop youngsters, give guys looks around the league, and let the player development staff of each team get a good read on what these players can do. However, the summer leagues are not terribly exciting to watch. The camera angles are often different, the announcing team is typically one play-by-play guy and one current NBA player who wants to get into announcing, and the games are pretty loosely officiated. The teams are scrapped together with all sorts of pieces-parts, so they're not playing polished basketball. There are lots of pick-and-rolls, but there's not a lot of team identity going on. It's hard to blame them - most of these guys have only known each other for about a week.

For the Cavaliers, the summer league roster is made up of 5 D-League guys, one draft pick, Jordan McRae, and a few other undrafted free agents. The guys will play a few games before the "league" tournament, but you don't need me to tell you about the ins and outs of the summer league schedule. Here's what you need to know.

No one *really* cares if their summer league team dominates or sucks. The Sixers have had summer league teams loaded with current/future roster players, but the only meaningful success comes in the regular season. Likewise, the Cavaliers will probably only take 2-3 guys from this roster into the regular season and it's already pretty clear who they might be. The reality is that the Cavs are loaded with veterans and don't have a ton of need for youngsters to come up and fill holes.

Examples: The Cavs are kind of an old team, so youth will be useful eventually, but it's not yet. LBJ, JR Smith, Frye, RJ, Dunleavy, Mo WIlliams, and both Joneses will all be 31 or older by opening day. All of them except JR and LeBron will be 33 or older. They're getting up there in age. Hell, even Sasha Kaun is 31. Granted that there are still some young dudes - Shump (26), Kyrie (24), Love (27), Tristan (25) - to balance that, but those guys are pretty well entrenched in their roles. Kay Felder and Jordan McRae are not going to be stealing minutes from the top 7 of the rotation. 

Based on the paragraph above, there are at least 10 guys who are all but guaranteed roster spots. I'm not counting either Jones in that list, nor McRae/Felder. In all reality, McRae and/or Felder will both be on the opening day roster. The Cavs have shown quite a bit of faith in Jordan McRae and seem to believe that he's got a shot going forward. However, he's basically playing the same position as both Kyrie Irving and Kay Felder; they're all point guards who can shoot and might even prefer to shoot (Felder deserves credit for averaging a ton of assists in college, but he also shot a lot, so who knows?). To me, this means that one of these guys will take Mo Williams's backup minutes pretty early in the season and it's entirely likely that the other one of them will eventually crack the rotation as well. I don't envision a lot of PT for Mo this year after the first couple months, and I don't think he does either. That would explain why, in a landscape where Allen Crabbe is getting $20m per year, Mo accepted his $2m player option. 

So should you watch it?

It depends how much of a basketball junkie you really are. For the Cavs, you'll get to spend a few days watching Jordan McRae and Kay Felder battle for a roster spot. Otherwise you're basically watching the Canton Charge's tryouts. You would probably be better served to just watch game 7 on DVR again. That's not to take anything away from the summer league players, but I'm still flying high from the Finals.


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