I’m not a big college basketball follower, but I can still remember the first time I saw Sir’Dominic Pointer play. I was flipping through the channels during the conference tournaments, trying to figure out who I was going to put my money behind during March Madness and I stopped on the St. John’s game for a bit. Within minutes, Pointer swooped into an opposing player’s lane for an impossibly athletic block and shortly after followed it up with a dunk that would have been particularly violent even by ‘90s NBA standards. Recently, as I comb back through YouTube videos of him, I can’t pick out which block it was, since there is a few to chose from, but it looked something like this:
It’s not surprising that, according to Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, that Pointer is being assigned to the Canton Charge. While I usually don’t follow college teams or even pre-tournament important games that closely, I try to keep up with the prospective lottery picks and even a little with late first round sleepers. Not hearing someone’s name with this sort of freak athleticism and defensive prowess meant one thing: he can’t shoot. Which is, at this point, undoubtably true. Not that his shooting percentage or shot selection was poor, as he shot 52.4 percent from the field during his senior year, only taking 25 threes out of total 334 shots, but just sinking two, according to CBS Sports.
He’s certainly a project, especially for a team that is most successful when it stretches the floor for its elite players, but Pointer has an interesting level of upside with a combination of intangibles and time — sure, he’s already 23, but with enough wing depth for now, he’s worth a brief investment. Plus, even though he struggles with — and, most of the time, doesn’t even look for — his jump shot, it’s not like he’s a complete minus on the offensive end, as he slashes with a killer instinct, as you can see here in summer league on a last-minute, game-evening possession, before which he made a defensive play, disrupting the opposing team’s inbound enough to force a turnover. And then he is fed the ball, makes a quick move to create space and blasts to the rim with power and agility:
He also runs the floor well, with what seems to be a pretty high level of awareness and IQ. But, the NBA is unkind to player’s that can’t shoot. Only a select few can carve out the sort of identity where they can have that large of an obvious weakness and not get harshly exploited, causing their team turbulence. And, with his leaping ability, he seems bigger than he actually is. He’s not small - he stands 6’5" and weighs 198 pounds - but he also doesn’t fall into the coveted axis of size and elite athleticism that can smoothly guard three or four positions.
And, on the offense end, with LeBron clearly wanting to dominate the ball and a lot of the other touches going to Kyrie, the Cavs need off-the-ball long-range shooters that can also hustle and defend, like Iman and Smith (when he cares, like now, because being on a winning team with a superstar can sometimes bring the best out of mercurial wildcards.) But, while there's little room for Pointer right now, it’s hard to watch his highlights and not hope he develops. He’s electrifying with a high motor and, maybe, if he puts some weight on and can cover ground on some of his weaknesses, he may be able to be the lock defender that could take some pressure of LeBron’s legs. Shumpert is probably that player right now, but with limited roster mobility, insurance isn’t a bad thing.
None of the three rookies that left the draft a Cavalier will be on the roster at the beginning of the year, as Osman will play in Europe, Christmas was traded and Pointer will be on the Charge. This was expected, with the addition of veterans like Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson, but, as they both age, it’s hard to tell when a serious injury or sudden drop off in production could occur. Whether Pointer or Cedi Osman can eventually contribute in Cleveland — or even will ever wear a Cavs uniform — remains to be seen. And, while it’s still a longshot that either becomes an impact player, it would be huge if at least one of them beats the odds.