The Point Four-ward: Scrimmag-ination

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Perhaps, the Cavaliers won’t run a back-up point guard by committee, after all.

Monday’s signing of seven-year veteran Toney Douglas gives the Cavs an experienced combo guard to compete their current crop of training camp attendees. While the team’s answer may still reside somewhere on their current roster, Douglas brings experience and is more of known quantity than the other players the Cavs are currently auditioning for the role.

With Matthew Dellavedova now a Milwaukee Buck and Mo Williams retired, the Cavs were scrambling to find someone — anyone — who could step in and spell Kyrie Irving and none of their options were without question marks. Kay Felder, who impressed at summer league, is a rookie and stands just 5-9. Jordan McRae and Iman Shumpert are both shooting guards being given a look at the point. DeAndre Liggins is a 6-6 swingman, but he also averaged seven assists per game last year for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League. At 6-3, Markel Brown has good size and defensive ability, but he doesn’t shoot the ball as well as the Cavs like from their perimeter guys.

The 6-2 Douglas played in 61 games (18 starts) for the injury-ravaged New Orleans Pelicans and averaged 8.7 PPG on 41% shooting from the floor (39.9% from three). The Cavs will be Douglas’s seventh pro team, so his signing isn’t a matter of the Cavs picking up huge difference maker. Still, he makes sense if only because championship-contending teams tend to favor experience and Douglas does have plenty of experience being a back-up point guard in the NBA. He hasn’t always been a knock-down three point shooter in his career, though four times in his career he averaged over 38% from deep.

This move seems most likely to impact Felder who, while he will still make the team, could find himself more in the conversation for the Canton Charge than in the one about who’s getting the bulk of the minutes behind Irving.

2.) Speaking of Felder, he took the court for the Wine and Gold scrimmage on Sunday and promptly turned in a performance reminiscent of another Cleveland rookie just one Sunday before.

The start to Cody Kessler’s first game as quarterback for the Cleveland Browns couldn’t have gone worse. Starting against the Miami Dolphins, the rookie from USC was sacked and lost a fumble on the Browns’ first drive. Later, he settled down and played with composure as the Browns hung tough in the eventual loss. Felder looked similarly overwhelmed by his first public run as a professional, even if it was on a much smaller stage. His touch around the hoop was cold and, on one drive, he tossed the ball up… only to see it thump off the bottom of the backboard. Still, Felder kept attacking and was particularly impressive getting into the paint and kicking the ball out to an open teammate.

So, no, Felder didn’t look like the Cavs’ full-time back-up point guard in that scrimmage, but the rookie from Oakland deserves a look. He also deserves more time to get comfortable before any conclusions — even about this season — are made.

Other thoughts on the scrimmage…

The ball movement, especially early, was really pretty. The entire roster looked like they knew what to do and made quick decisions — and that was while playing without LeBron James!

Here’s an easy way for Tyronn Lue to keep Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s minutes down: sit him after he hits his fourth three-pointer of the game. If Dunleavy continues to shoot like he did on Sunday, the 6-9 combo forward would end up averaging something like 12 points and only six minutes a game. Lue probably doesn’t want to keep the minutes down that much.

Liggins looked comfortable bringing the ball up the court and initiating the offense. He also canned a corner three and played active defense. If Shumpert, as reported, recognized that his defense last season wasn’t up to his personal snuff and recommits on that end, watching those two wreaking havoc together in the Cavs backcourt will be a lot of fun.

3.) A lot has been written about how much stronger Kevin Love has looked after an off-season during which he was allowed to lift weights and not just rest and rehab his injured shoulder. And it’s true. During the scrimmage on Sunday, the eye test had him as stronger and more nimble than at any point last season. His outside shot looked good and he didn’t just float on the perimeter. He rebounded the ball and looked to establish himself in the post on offense.

My favorite play from Love, in fact, didn’t involve him scoring at all. Early in the first period, Love received the ball just north of the restricted area. He backed his defender down with two quick dribbles then, rather than continuing to work in isolation, he quickly whipped the ball back out beyond the three point line, where the Cavs swung it all the way to the opposite corner and got a wide open look at a three. The three didn’t go in, but with the plethora of shooters on this team, ball movement like that will likely reward the Cavs with a bucket more times than not. What was particularly impressive about this sequence was not the action itself, but the speed and decisiveness with which the action took place.

Last season, Love was right at his career average for assists, dropping 2.4 per game. In only one season — his monster 2013-14 campaign — did he average appreciably more (4.4).  While its unlikely Love will have the ball in his hands enough to come close to those assists numbers, a more consistent year from Love on offense — which I think will happen — could lead to a more pass-happy player, as well. Both of those things would be huge for the Cavs, who (for yet another season) plan on keeping Love’s other star running mates, James and Irving.

4.) When the Cavs kick off their preseason tonight against the Orlando Magic, they’ll find themselves up against one of their more pesky foes from last season’s Eastern Conference playoffs: new Magic center Bismack Biyombo.

Many questioned the Magic’s thinking when they signed Biyombo and trading for Serge Ibaka, when they had young, promising big men in Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. Still, the team lucked out when new head coach Frank Vogel fell into their lap after being fired — unjustifiably, some would argue — by the Indiana Pacers. Now, what looked like a recipe for a logjam in the paint for the Magic is being spun as a potential strength. Gordon will be moved to the three and with Ibaka currently resting an injury, Vucevic and Biyombo have been sharing the court. Biyombo has been a real hit and Vucevic, for one, believes all that size can play together.

“Obviously, [Biyombo] is a guy who has a lot of energy on defense,” Vucevic said. “On offense, he runs the floor really hard. He goes to the boards. It is much easier to play with him. Especially for a guy like me who can step out and pass the ball. It’s been fun to play with him. We’ll keep building chemistry. When Serge [Ibaka] gets back, with him as well. I think we’ll have three good bigs out there. It will be really tough to guard us.”

The Cavs will get their first chance to contend with the new-look Magic tonight at The Q.

 

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Hot Sauce
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Hot Sauce
1 year 11 months ago

Excited for Love’s season. He still has so much room to grow on this team. Probably the most of the Big 3.

I think the point guard by committee will work out fine for this year. Douglas, Bron, Shump, Felder, etc. Would rather have Delly, but given the costs of Delly I think we ended in a decent spot.

It’s gonna be really hard to take the regular season seriously this year, let alone the pre-season. The East might be worse than it was a year ago. Detroit is the one team I respect, but they are still way too young.

6thCity
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6thCity
1 year 11 months ago

I think Frye, RJ, and maybe even JR played above their own ceilings at certain points in the playoffs last season- those guys turned in some amazing performances, whereas it isn’t as shocking to see guys like LeBron and Kyrie play at their full potential. Love and Shump were really the only guys I thought could continue to build on their performances- and that’s not to take away from Love’s great RPM, rebounding, and of course “the stop.”

It’s just that Shump seemed… Not quite himself for much of last year, and certainly less than we thought we would get from him. Love played great but you could tell his injury had hurt his offseason, and I also think he showed room to improve his fit into team. He might go nuts this season, and here’s hoping Shump can pick it up as well.

Hot Sauce
Guest
Hot Sauce
1 year 11 months ago

Yeah. Shump has SO much potential. If he can get the corner 3 up to 40%, limit his dribbling and turnovers, then he is a beast of a role player.

Excl
Member
1 year 11 months ago

Both him and Shump seem to be rejuvenated from a Championship Summer and a good haircut.

Nate Smith
Admin
1 year 11 months ago

To dispel some mistakes below: Jordan McRae does not have a guaranteed deal. He’s just likely to be on the roster. Second, Dahntay Jones is on a vett minimum, non-guaranteed deal.

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 11 months ago

Great points Robert! Excited to see the guys in action tonight…

Meanwhile, I’m glad they did this. Very classy…

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/17715322/david-blatt-says-accept-championship-ring-cleveland-cavaliers

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 11 months ago

“This is not my first champsionship ring, I have many other rings from other tournaments, I don’t know why you guys think this is special” — David Blatt

not really though

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
1 year 11 months ago

If he actually said that, that shows why he will never be a successful NBA coach.

Wray10
Guest
Wray10
1 year 11 months ago

Some would call making it to the NBA finals and winning two games there while missing two of your three best players, in your first season as a coach . . . successful.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 11 months ago

From what we saw with Lue, it’s pretty obvious that Blatt was holding us back.

JoeyB
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JoeyB
1 year 11 months ago

Okay, Cols, that was actually a good one. Probably your first, but credit where its due. I smiled.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
1 year 11 months ago

WAS AT THE SCRIMMAGE ALSO—” KILLER SHRIMP ” HAS TONS OF POTENTIAL BUT HE NEEDS TO PLAY / MINUTES / AM EXPECTING HIM TO MAKE THE TEAM BUT HAVE A STEADY DIET OF ROAD TRIPS TO AND FROM CANTON —-DOUGLAS MIGHT BE A ” LATE BLOOMER ” AKA – R.J WITH HIS 3 PT SHOOTING AND WITH MORE SPACING COULD BE 40 % + FROM 3 PT LINE —-HAVE SAID ALL ALONG THE MOST FIERCE COMPETITION IS BETWEEN LIGGINS / BROWN —GIVING THE EDGE TO LIGGINS —3 PT SHOOTING / LENGTH / BALLHANDLING-PASSING

Excl
Member
1 year 11 months ago
The battle for the last four roster spots will be interesting. Assuming we eventually sign JR, and that James Jones will get his roster-spot-emeritus, that leaves four spots. 1) PG: Kay Felder – Has the rookie contract and most upside at point guard. Toney Douglas might make things interesting here, and might even get more early season minutes, but I think Felder has much more potential and roster value. 2) SG: Jordan McRae – Cream Jordan has a year of experience with the team, a guaranteed contract and a lot of potential as well. I also can’t really see the guys below him really beating him out for a roster spot. 3) SG: DeAndre Liggins – Liggins is a real wild card here. On paper, he’s perfect for the team: A 3-and-D guy that would work well in any lineup. He’s going to really be on the bubble though, and a lot depends on whether the Cavs want to go the youth route or the experience route. 4) PG: Toney Douglas – A lot depends on how Felder progresses here., as well as the other combo guards. If we decide nobody else can be an efficient point and Felder isn’t… Read more »
Jason
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Jason
1 year 11 months ago
I think that is a pretty good post from Excl. My only issues are that I don’t think there are four spots open, I think there are two. Felder and McRae will make the team. And while I think McRae’s deal IS guaranteed, there is conflicting reporting. Here’s a link: http://www.spotrac.com/nba/cleveland-cavaliers/jordan-mcrae-15410/ It has this year’s deal as guaranteed, not next year’s. Though the color coding on the Cavs page doesn’t represent it. Regardless, Felder and Orange Mamba are going to make the team. We didn’t pay $2.4 mil to cut Felder. He’ll have this year to develop, minimum. McRae is our leading scorer in Summer League and pre-season, and the last regular season game , and JR is unsigned, still. James is serenading him with the “Movin’ on up!” Jefferson’s theme. He worked out with the team in LA. He’s going nowhere. The real issues are: 1) I think we want to keep Dahntay Jones. 2) We really need an established point guard to deputize for Irving. 3) We like Liggins the most of the campers. 4) We don’t have room for all three of the above to happen, unless 5) We give Felder/Liggins/McRae/Shump enough run at PG to convince… Read more »
6thCity
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6thCity
1 year 11 months ago

Thanks for the take. I think they like the idea of heading into the season with an empty roster spot and storing some dudes in Canton, then seeing what they need later.

Also, don’t rule out some pretty big moves at the deadline ala last season. Wouldn’t be surprised if they use the first half to showcase a few young guys to trade later.

JoeyB
Guest
JoeyB
1 year 11 months ago

I think I’d put Markel Brown higher. Either he or Douglas are likely the back up point.

The question for McRae and Liggins is whether they will get snatched up by someone else if we waive them and try to get them to the Canton. Those two, plus Felder, would benefit from regular minutes with the Charge – they won’t see enough run in Cleveland to continue developing. The fact that Liggins is starting at the point tonight tells me he’s probably in the lead of the young guys for a spot.

With Brown, Douglas, and Jones, the question is whether the Cavs prefer vets to young guys at the end of the bench. Usually Vets win out, but there are already so many on the team it may be extraneous.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
1 year 11 months ago

The “snatched up” issue is why Jones will probably not make it. He is very likely to not get snatched up, and they can get him if they need him at any time.

Excl
Member
1 year 11 months ago

I like Markel, but who does he surpass that’s ranked above him? Toney Douglas is probably a better option at Point, because we’ve already got a young guy in Felder. McRae and Liggins are two of the best guys out of the D-League, and I don’t know that they could survive the waiver wire if they don’t make the roster. Jones is ranked higher because he has a guaranteed contract (although, without the contract he’d be last on my list) and Jefferson is higher because we don’t have any other backup forwards.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 11 months ago

The Magic are going to suck. Cavs are going to cruise though the season and the playoffs. I love it

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