Cavaliers Summer League Rundown – 3 Games Played

July 13, 2023

Tony Camino

3 Quick Cavs Summer League Observations

1 – Standouts

So far in three summer league games for the Cavaliers, there are three players that really stand out among the rest.  Isaiah Mobley, Sam Merrill, and Emoni Bates.

I think we are going to see Isaiah and Merrill up quite a bit in Cleveland this coming season as both look like they are ready to contribute.  Merrill especially with his shooting ability.

Bates had a great game on Monday night scoring 21 points on 7 for 11 shooting and the potential is really exciting.  I do see Bates spending more time developing his overall game in Canton this coming season.  

2 – Watch List

Down the road for the Cavs, remember these names as they have had moments also in Summer League Sharife Cooper,  Craig Porter Jr., and 2022 2nd-round pick Luke Tavers, Tavers is going to be playing in Australia again this coming season.  All three show potential.

3 – Cavs Aligned

It was cool seeing Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, and Cavs President Koby Altman courtside in support.  There were other Cavs members scattered as well, and for all of the playoff struggles against the Knicks, the Cavs do show great team comradery. 

Three games into the Vegas Summer League, and the Cavaliers have yet to lose a game. Following
Monday’s 100-77 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the hype surrounding this group of young Cavs is
undeniably growing. While the team doesn’t have lottery stars like Victor Wembanyama, Chet
Holmgren, Brandon Miller, and Scoot Henderson have managed to play sound-team basketball on
their way to an undefeated 3-0 start.


Second-Round Rookie Emoni Bates

Starting with the highly touted Emoni Bates, his performance in game one lived up to the scouting
report precisely. He displayed his insane shot-making abilities but was not shy in letting it fly. Bates
finished with 16 points on just 5-18 shooting from the field, often taking some serious head-scratchers.
His insane confidence was on display, but his decision-making wasn’t great, and he struggled with taking
care of the ball.

Following Bates’ first taste of professional basketball, the jump from game one to game two looked like
two completely different people. The insane shot-making ability was still there, but he was making extra
passes and taking what the defense was giving him. Although he finished with just 12 points, he added
eight rebounds, shot 5-12 from the floor, and passed up good shots for better shots that led to points.
The misses he had in game two were just good looks that didn’t fall, and he was trending up despite
another not-so-great shooting performance.

Monday’s game against the Grizzlies was where Bates put it all together and really gave Cavs fans
something to be excited about. The three-point shot was pure, his length caused tons of issues on the
defensive end, and his decision-making was some of the best it’s ever been in his basketball career. He
finished the game with 21 points on 7-11 shooting with five threes and added two steals and two blocks.
He had multiple examples of good closeouts, and when he was beaten off the dribble, his length helped
recover to disrupt the shot. Most importantly, these last two games were the most active I’ve ever seen
Bates play defense off the ball, and he looked comfortable lighting it up within the flow of the offense.


Sam Merrill Stands Out


As far as Cavaliers not named Emoni Bates go, plenty of guys have stood out. Sam Merrill is going viral
for his unofficial summer-league record eight threes on Monday, leading to a game-high 27 points.
Through three games in the Vegas Summer League, Merrill is 15/31 from deep, just under 50%. His
ability to comfortably play off screens in common NBA actions is a promising sign for next year, as
Merrill has been great at moving without the ball. With a guaranteed contract for the NBA team next
year, Merrill might be another solution to the shooting woes from a year ago.


The Rest of the Squad

Sharife Cooper has handled the primary point guard duties and has continued to show his natural ability
to get past defenders. His playmaking has seemingly improved, but questions about his size and defense
will ultimately decide if he gets a chance with the Cavs. Undrafted free agent Craig Porter Jr. has
handled the rest of the point guard minutes and has filled the stat sheet during his time on the floor.
He’s a physical guard who uses his body to draw defenders and create good looks for himself and his
teammates.

Isaiah Mobley has been the vocal leader of this team and has shown a ton of versatility in three games.
Although not a particularly strong finisher at the rim, he’s a good playmaker for his size and can space
the floor well. He needs to get quicker in guarding pick-and-rolls in drop coverage but has had some
good showings in Vegas overall.

Pete Nance has been one of the bigger surprises on this team, in my opinion, showing the Cavs that he
might be worth a roster spot in some regard. Nance has shot the three very well for his size, hitting 5-10
attempts through three games. He is a plus playmaker and can guard multiple positions at 6’10”.

Lastly, overseas draftees Luke Travers and Khalifa Diop have played well in their roles. Travers is a
versatile forward who can shoot the three and put it on the floor, and he has shown it so far. While he
recently signed an extension with his NBL team, Travers is a promising prospect for the future. His 13-
point, six-rebound, four-block showing on Friday is exactly what the Cavs envisioned when they drafted
him in 2022. Diop is another overseas player who the Cavs own rights and he’s been a typical,
physical big man on the inside. He has shown his ability to make his presence known rebounding and
defending and has even shown a little touch with his back to the basket on offense.


Overall

The three wins so far in the Vegas Summer League are as promising as can be for a Cavaliers Summer
League team that features zero first-round picks. Emoni Bates has shown great maturation in just four
days, Sam Merrill looks like another shooter to add to the mix, and the rest of the Summer League roster has given the Cavs and the rest of the league plenty of reasons to give them a look.


Next Game: July 13th, 3:00 PM vs Chicago Bulls

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