The Cleveland Cavaliers concluded Las Vegas Summer League on Friday with a 95-90 victory over the Miami Heat. Steven Gray scored 17 points and Dwight Powell grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Cavaliers in each category.
Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett did not play, while Matthew Dellavedova prepped for the FIBA World Championships in Australia.
The Cavs summer contingent now returns to Cleveland after posting a 4-1 record overall. If David Blatt continues his current pace, he is scheduled to win approximately 65.6 games during his first regular season in the NBA.
Five other reasons to be encouraged by the Cavaliers trip to Las Vegas are highlighted below.
5.) Quality Production From Big 3
Barring a trade, Matthew Dellavedova, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins are the three Cavaliers who participated in Summer League that are also expected to be in the rotation on opening night. Delly led the Cavs in assists with an average of 4.7 during the three games he played. Bennett led the team in rebounding with 7.8 and Wiggins led all Cavaliers in scoring with 15.5. That’s what you’re hoping to see in Vegas from the players you expect to contribute during the regular season.
4.) David Blatt Impressing Early
David Blatt appeared to connect well with the young group of Cavaliers on his way to winning four of the five games his team played. Dellavedova told me last week on his initial impressions of Blatt: “I’m learning a lot from him already. He’s great to play for. He’s competitive, he really wants to win, and he’s a teacher of the game. He’s direct with his communications but he also delivers his message with a sense of humor.” The only mistake he made so far was the decision to wear Brett Favre jeans on the sidelines–something I’m sure Tristan Thompson will help correct in time for the season.
3.) Wiggins Earning Respect
Glenn Rice Jr. (Wizards) was named MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League. Doug McDermott (Bulls), Donatas Motiejunas (Rockets), Otto Porter (Wizards) and Tony Snell (Bulls) rounded out the First Team selections. But while Andrew Wiggins was not named to the Second Team, either, he did finish a close second to McDermott in a poll conducted by HoopsHype.com as the “most impressive summer league player according to his peers.”
— Brendan Bowers (@BowersCLE) July 21, 2014
@BowersCLE So close to No. 1.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) July 21, 2014
2.) Bennett Flexing With Confidence
My man Jeremy Rincon–a great photographer based in Las Vegas–sent me the picture he took of Anthony Bennett featured above. He was flexing at Summer League because for the first time in his professional career, Bennett is happy, confident and healthy. Along with the 7.8 rebounds he averaged over a four-game stretch, he also scored 13.3 points per night while never totaling less than 11 in any one game. Bennett grabbed as many as 14 boards against the San Antonio Spurs as well, while consistently attacking the glass back home at UNLV.
1.) Not Rattled By Trade Rumors
The natural pressure of proving your worth as the No. 1 overall pick accompanied Andrew Wiggins to Las Vegas Summer League. In addition to that, though, the constant trade speculation that also surrounded his trip made scrutiny of the Toronto native even more intense. Despite remaining in trade conversations during each game he played, Wiggins showed up like a true professional both on and off the floor. He closed things out with a 21-point, 5-rebound performance against the Rockets on Thursday before finishing with averages of 15.5 and 3.5. As a 19-year-old on the NBA stage for the first time, he said and did all the right things while never appearing the least bit rattled by trade rumors.
Radio Notes: Had a great time talking with Gene Winters on 92.3 The Fan yesterday. I also enjoyed the opportunity to talk Cavs on “The Mancave Sports Show” on 730 AM in Memphis, TN this past Friday–here’s a link to that audio. At 5:35 today, I’ll be joining “The Sam Bourquin Show” on 1480 WHBC and a link to listen live on that is as follows as well: News-Talk 1480 WHBC.