The Cleveland Cavaliers announced their roster for Las Vegas Summer League yesterday. Many of the players making up the roster, and many of those who will receive a bulk of the playing time, are players we are very familiar with. Clearly, we know who Anthony Bennett, Matthew Dellavedova, Carrick Felix, and Sergey Karasev are, as they all were on the roster last year. Additionally, we all spent the last month and a half getting to know Andrew Wiggins; he's pretty familiar to us at this point as well.
However, these aren't the only players the Cavaliers will be bringing along. The Cavs will bring seven other players to Las Vegas:
These guys range from "vaguely familiar" to "I've never heard of this player in my life." However, this is a chance to know these players, who could steal the show from the players who already likely have roster spots. After all, Matthew Dellavedova and Jermaine Taylor made big names for themselves last year for the Cavs' Summer League team, a group that included Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.
With that said, here's a quick look at each of the lesser-known players on the Cavaliers roster, and what we might be able to expect from them during the next couple of weeks.
Cherry was a late addition to the Canton Charge last year, appearing in 18 games and starting 12 at point guard for the Charge. While with Canton, he averaged 11.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. He's a little undersized, standing at 6'0" and weighing 185 lbs, but he's a good athlete and can rebound very well for a smaller guard. Not much information is available on Cherry, who played in Summer League with the Pelicans last year, but he should be the main backup point guard for this team. He played his college ball at the University of Montana, where he was a four-year starter, made the NCAA Tournament twice in 2010 and 2012, and was probably Damian Lillard's toughest competition in the Big Sky Conference.
A 6'9" power forward/center from Notre Dame, Cooley made a name for himself at LVSL last year, averaging 15 points and 9.2 rebounds as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies' squad. He's playing with Memphis again in the Orlando Summer League, averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds. He's an effective post scorer and rebounder, but while he's willing to bang down low on defense, his awkward size and lack of quickness make him a minus on that end. Still, he likely would have been an end-of-the-bench player in Memphis last year, but turned down that opportunity to play for Trabzonspor in Turkey. He should get plenty of run for the Cavs, however, as he's probably the most polished big on the Summer League roster.
Edwards, a small forward from Arkansas-Little Rock, played 2 games with the Cavaliers last March on a 10-day contract. He was completely forgettable over that time, playing just 12 minutes and getting 3 shots up in losses to the Clippers and Thunder. Edwards was a solid player throughout the season for Canton, however, and averaged 14.2 points per game on 55.1 percent shooting. He has pretty good size for a small forward at 6'7", 200 lbs, and while he can't shoot from outside at all, he's a decent cutter and finisher, and should get a good chance to showcase his talents as a very poor man's Luol Deng for the Cavs' summer league team. However, there's really not much of a chance that anything comes from his inclusion on this roster, as the Cavs have filled their quota on young wings on roster.
First off, Steven Gray had great hair while he was at Gonzaga.
This is worth showcasing, even if he doesn't have the same dreadlocks today. Gray played at Gonzaga from 2007-2011, and spent last season as a member of Gravelines in the French league. He's also played professionally in Lebanon and Latvia. Gray is a 6'5" shooting guard who primarily scores on the perimeter. He's wildly inconsistent as a three-point shooter, but when he can get something going, as he did in shooting 42.2 percent in 8 Eurocup games, he's a considerable threat for a defense to have to account for. Much like Taylor last year, Gray is the safe bet to randomly explode for 17 points off the bench in a Cavs' Summer League game.
Harris, of course, was the 33rd pick of the NBA Draft by the Cavs, and will likely see a lot of time on the court at LVSL in order to assess what the team has in him. Harris is a 6'6", 215 lbs. wing from Virginia, and has a very enticing skill set for what David Blatt wants from his wings. He can shoot, hitting an even 40 percent from three-point range last year, and can distribute, as he was one of the top passing small forwards in the draft. Defensively, Harris lacks the athleticism and quickness to ever be an on-ball defender, but his off-ball skills are supposedly pretty good given how Virginia's elite defense played with him last year. The important things to watch with Harris this week will be if his shooting is for real, and just how well he can operate within an NBA defensive scheme.
Hopson gets a chance to prove his worth for the Cavs, and while chances are he won't do anything to prove he's anything more than a contract to move, he should still be an interesting prospect to watch. Hopson split last year between Efes (A former Blatt stomping ground) and Canton, and was a mixed bag in both spots. In Turkey, Hopson barely played in Turkish league action, but shined in Eurocup, where he led the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game and shot 48.4 percent from three. His production was lesser in his few games with Canton, but he still displayed solid shooting touch. He's demonstrated a lackadaisical effort on the defensive end, and isn't really much more than a scorer, and an inefficient one at that if his three-point shot isn't falling, which is what killed him at Tennessee. The big things to look for from Hopson are whether he can hit threes at a decent rate, and if he can lock in defensively, where he has some talent if he's paying attention.
Kirk is a large man. He's 6'11", 250+ lbs., and owns a 7'3.5" wingspan. Hailing from New Mexico, where he led the Lobos to the NCAA tournament this past season, Kirk's mission in summer league will be to prove that he can be a consistent player on both ends, because he has the talent to be a potential NBA player. Offensively, Kirk is an efficient scorer around the basket, and while his range is limited beyond that, he has a developing array of post moves and moves well without the ball. Defensively, he's an incredibly consistent shot blocker, and while he's not a great athlete, he could develop into a rim protector in the NBA. However, outside of that, his fundamentals are poor, and his effort is inconsistent, particularly in the post. Kirk could be a very intriguing player for the Cavs to work with in Canton this year, but this summer, he must display consistent play on both ends of the floor. Luckily, with no other true centers on the roster, he should get plenty of chances for the Cavs in LVSL.