I am heading out to Vegas Summer League later on today. If I feel cool enough while boarding my flight, I might even tweet out "wheels up" prior to take-off. That little airplane image may even be included in said tweet. Whether I announce my trip as such or not though, do keep up with me here at Stepien Rules and on Twitter over the next few days if you get the chance. I'll be catching up with your Cleveland Cavaliers as they continue to make their way through the summer league circuit, and who knows who else while I'm out there. Last time I was in Vegas I bumped into Pete Rose, so maybe I'll link back up with him at somepoint. Thanks for staying tuned, plenty more throughout the week.
On Kyrie's Hand: I'm looking at Kyrie Irving's recent hand injury like this - I am more encouraged by the fact that Kyrie is so competitive he'd smack a padded wall out of frustration over a turnover during a meaningless off-season practice with so much force he'd fracture his hand, more than I am worried about the impact of this actual injury. Long sentence, I know. But all this injury means, for now at least, is that the Cavs won't be rolling out the greatest Summer League team ever assembled after all. It would've been good for Dion Waiters and Irving to gain some backcourt familiarity over the next couple weeks, but they'll make up for that in about two practices once the season begins. If Irving is able to return for the start of training camp, which is expected right now, there's no real issue here. Mistakes happen, move on, he'll learn from it and stop punching walls in the future.
Waiters last night: Just prior to tip-off against Charlotte, I set the over/under on total points for Dion Waiters at 12.5 on Twitter. It's Summer League, guys don't really score like they do in real games. There's four ten minute quarters, teams substitute freely, guys don't go for thirty all that often. People tweeted at me with 14 over picks. Way over, most people said, but Waiters finished just under with 10 points on the game. If Cavs fans are disappointed by that performance though, they're making a mistake. He was right around where he should be getting into double figures. He missed some shots he'd like to get back, but the important thing is how uber-aggressive he was from the jump. He came out firing, and that's what I hoped to see more than anything else from Waiters. The timeout he called at the end wasn't good, but the shot he hit just before it was clutch. All those other shots he missed last night will eventually fall.
Samardo and Zeller: Samardo looks good right now. He lost 17 pounds, and is on a healthier diet where he's not eating foods like fried chicken anymore. He seriously did look quicker and more explosive than we saw him during the season last night against Charlotte, and that was encouraging. You couldn't help but like the way that Tyler Zeller looked running up and down the floor too. He moves real well for a seven-footer. I watched last night thinking maybe landing Tyler Zeller as late as 17th overall was a steal. Maybe. Just one Summer League game, don't want to get too carried away, but Zeller looks smooth out there so far.
More later on from Las Vegas.
I was literally shocked when the Cavs let Zeller go down so low. Fortunately you got him in a draft day trade. I'm telling you know, Tyler Zeller will be the next Kevin Mchale, if not, at worst he'll be another Tom Chambers. He was statistically the best center in the draft and the best Tarheel center since former Cav Brad Daughtery. I can't wait to see a starting five of Irving, Waiters, Thompson, and Zeller with some guy filling in at the three spot.
Zeller was very impressive, athletic, skilled, finished.
Waiters was facing a defense with 3 guys waiting for him.
Samuels is fighting for a job, and he may just win one.
It was the worst basketball game, overall, I've seen in a long time.