- Phelps on the Cavs: Summer debut has some shining moments - July 2, 2019
Watching NBA summer league games is always a strange experience. You’re well aware that the game means very little, and for the most part, individual performances don’t mean a whole lot. Yet, you find yourself getting excited if some guy wearing a Cavaliers uniform hits a couple of nice shots, knowing all too well that that guy may be playing in Istanbul in a few months.
After that disclaimer, a few thoughts from the Cavs’ summer league opener in Utah against the Spurs:
– As 26th overall pick Dylan Windler was putting together a nice stretch in the second quarter, a name popped into my head — Dan Majerle. Too much to ask, I know. But Windler looked very athletic, showed a nice shooting touch, and looked good in transition — all things that Majerle displayed during his 14-year NBA career. Coincidentally (I think), Windler is even wearing Majerle’s No. 9. Majerle played the 1995-96 season with the Cavs, and was the 14th overall pick in the 1988 draft. He was a three-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns. Again, too much to ask, I know.
– Windler finished with 19 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes. He was 8-of-14 on field goals, and 3-of-5 on 3-pointers. He hit a Steph Curry-range 3-pointer in the third quarter. Good debut.
– Fifth overall pick Darius Garland and 30th overall pick Kevin Porter, Jr. are with the Cavs in Utah, but neither played in the opener. Garland has little reason to play, coming off a knee injury. Porter could put a playing opportunity to good use. Hope we see him soon.
– Great to see Collin Sexton and Ante Zizic on the Cavalier bench. Exposure to head coach John Beilein and his system — even in summer league, and even without playing — can’t do anything but help the transition to a new coach.
– Beilein is coaching the Cavs summer league efforts, and he’s doing it in a polo shirt. No suit coat. So no clue as of yet if Beilein will be able to coach wearing a jacket. Always took it off in college and coached in shirtsleeves. NBA rule: Coaches must wear jackets. Beilein expects that to be a challenge. Seriously.
– I refuse to get cranked up about any player other than a first-round pick in the summer league. Why? Billy Preston. Remember Billy? Former McDonald’s All-American, went to Kansas, had some issues and ended up joining the Cavs last summer. I was pumped! Perhaps the Cavs had found the old “needle in a haystack.” The future star who “slipped through the cracks.” Instead, nothing from nothing left nothing from Billy Preston. Sorry, had to do it. Billy never played for the Cavs. Spent part of the season in the G League. So I’m not getting cracked up about anyone other than Windler, Garland and Porter, Jr.
– OK, forget most of everything in the previous note. Former Duke Blue Devil Marques Bolden has me slightly cranked. He’s 6-foot-11, was extremely active and pretty effective — 10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks in 21 minutes. And remember, you can’t coach 6-11.
– And … oh … why not … let the optimism flow!!! Six-foot-10 Dean Wade from Kansas State looked like a guy who could make an NBA team one day. Shoots it well for a big guy. Matt Bonner reincarnated baby! How about Ryan Anderson! Wade shot over 40% on 3-pointers in each of his last three seasons at K-State. Wade had 14 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes, 6-of-13 on field goals and 2-of-5 on 3-pointers.
– Former Utah Jazz great Ron Boone was interviewed during the NBA TV telecast. He said, “San Antonio has structure. They have a system, and they’ve run it for years. The Cavs are trying to build something. I’m just trying to figure out what they’re doing out there, other than running up and down the floor.” On that note, hey, it’s game one of the summer league. The process is underway.
– For what it’s worth, the Spurs won the game 97-89. The Cavs play the Utah Jazz Tuesday night.