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It took two overtimes and a missed shot at the buzzer, but the Cleveland Cavaliers’ summer run has come to end.
Final score: Los Angeles Lakers 112, Cavs 109 on Monday in the Las Vegas Summer League semifinals.
The buildup was this game featured LeBron James’ old team against his new … and as the headline on one Lakers-centric website proclaimed, “Lakers hand Cavs their second-biggest loss of July.” James’ departure for LA, of course, being the largest.
While this one was a lot of fun for basketball fans and bloggers alike, it hardly means a thing in the big picture for the individual teams. The jerseys may have said “Cavs” and “Lakers” on the front, but you won’t see many of the names on the back in those jerseys again.
At least, not when the games count for real.
Here is a look at the Cavs’ who you will/may see in training camp:
1. Collin Sexton. The rookie point guard looks like starter material, and he may indeed start next to George Hill in the Cavs’ backcourt (as mentioned earlier in this column). Sexton seemed to get better with each summer game, finishing with 27 points Monday night. His defense has also been strong. The bad? He recorded just two assists, compared to five turnovers, and shot 9-of-22 from the floor. He undoubtedly needs to work on his range, but that’s OK. He’s 19-years old.
2. Billy Preston. The 6-foot-10 forward is on the team, courtesy of a two-way contract. That means he will mostly play for the Canton Charge of the G-League — but he can spend up to 45 days with the Cavs. His contract can also be upgraded should he play well enough. Preston is a former McDonald’s All-American and full of promise. The Cavs are hopeful he will put in the work. He missed a tough 3-pointer at the buzzer that would’ve sent the game into a third overtime, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals.
3. Jamel Artis. The former Pitt standout spent time on the wing on the Cavs’ summer team, and he will be in some training camp somewhere, perhaps even in Cleveland. Overall, he gave a nice showing, scoring 17 on 6-of-11 shooting Monday. Artis spent some time with the Orlando Magic last season and was one of the more-polished players in Vegas. He is a long shot but has a shot nonetheless.
4. John Holland. The 6-5 shooting guard appeared in 24 games with the Cavs last year and is an aggressive, volume-type scorer. He will almost certainly be in camp, as coach Tyronn Lue and the front office like his potential. Expect to see more of him with the Charge if another team doesn’t pluck him away first. Holland also scored 17 on Monday.
5. Okaro White. A 6-8 power forward, White is a throwback big man. He appeared in six games for the Miami Heat last season and 41 NBA games overall. The Cavs like him and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see him in camp, too.
6. Scoochie Smith. Another point guard, Smith impressed in backing up Sexton, displaying strong ball-handling skills, a fair amount of quickness and generally playing with confidence. He averaged 14.3 in eight games with the Charge last season. Right now, Hill and Sexton are the only true point guards on the roster. Smith will have a chance to make it.
7. Marcus Lee. The former Kentucky and California forward is 6-11 and athletic. There may be a place for him as an NBA reserve. But he could be a victim of a numbers game with the Cavs — especially if they decide to retain White.
8. Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic. Neither played Monday, with neither having anymore to prove at this level. Both are expected to be a considerably bigger part of the Cavs’ rotation next season, with Osman perhaps replacing LeBron as the starting small forward. As for Zizic, the second-year center was the Cavs’ best player during the games in which he actually appeared. He is expected to get every opportunity in 2018-19.
Finally, LeBron’s new team was led by second-year guard Josh Hart, who erupted for 37 points. Hart was clearly an underrated addition last season after being selected with the final draft pick of the first round in 2017.
It will be interesting to see where he fits with Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson having been added to a Lakers backcourt that already includes Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Rookie small forward Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk also impressed with 31 points Monday to continue his strong summer run. The Lakers selected Mykhailiuk in the second round, No. 47 overall.