Scott Henkle and I attended the NBA Draft (and wrote about it here). Henkle, then, trumped me one better by goin’ out west and watching himself some NBA Las Vegas Summer League action – specifically, the Cavs team where he anticipated seeing Kyrie Irving and the other 2/5 of our likely opening night starting lineup. He wrote about the experience of summer league for The Classical. We played dueling laptops to talk about his Cavs-centric observations:
Robert: You saw the third and fourth games in person, right?
Scott: Fourth and fifth. And I watched one and two on TV. I never saw three.
Robert: Okay … so you never saw the one where Waiters remotely resembled a professional basketball player.
Scott: No. I don’t believe that happened. I saw Waiters dribble to the three point line a bunch of times, take three steps in, pass, and then stand there waiving for the ball at the three point line.
Robert: You’re describing a solid NBA skill!
Scott: Then I saw him smile his charming-devil smile at everyone while sitting the bench
Robert: And how about his awkward-as-hell jump shot?
Scott: I barely saw it!
Robert: Really? He shot, like, 700 times a game. He was, like, 3-700 every game.
Scott: Like Kobe. But without the good parts. And Kobe wasn’t taken as high.
Robert: So, you’re saying Waiters should end up better than Kobe.
Scott: There’s no doubt. But my summer league experience was not about him, because I missed that one game that you said he was good in [and they rested him the last two games].
Robert: Fine. But I have a sneaking suspicion that even if Waiters turns out to not be as good as we’d like, talking about Dion Waiters is going to be really fun. I’m already crossing off the next three years of my life. I won’t be able to get anything else of substance done. But… sorry, what can we take away from this summer league for the Cavs?
Scott: I think, there’s really only two real basketball things that you can see in summer league. First, you can see someone who is faster, stronger, etc. in ways that don’t depend on defense. Case in point: Damion Lillard. He could have done what he did with no one on the court and I would have said fucking hell that guy’s good!
Robert: Please tell me the other thing you can tell is motor.
Scott: The other thing is comparison– looking at players taken earlier, later or not at all. In this regard our boy [Waiters] did not come out well against the other guys we might have picked.
Robert: And you can compare fat Samardo to slim Samardo.
Scott: Who I would like to marry, by the way. He is 94% head at this point. He still has a fat man’s head.
Robert: And still a fat man’s ass, if you can believe it.
Scott: Oh yeah.
Robert: He now has legitimate “hot woman curves”
Scott: Hot woman curves, lady shoulders… What is it with you?
[Editor’s note: “lady shoulders” comes from many previous conversations we’ve had about players lacking broad shoulders – in my defense, the official term is “Chris Bosh shoulders. This, as it turns out, is one of my biggest worries about Tyler Zeller. Total Chris Bosh shoulders.]
Robert: But, to your point about comparison … I read this [link to article] which takes some quotes from David Thorpe to say the only real red flag – especially for rookies – in the summer league is lack of hustle. Or, I believe he said “motor.”
Scott: Basically people—our friend Adam is a big one–love to do [the comparing]. That’s just fun for fans. And why twitter was invented. But I feel like I watch a lot of basketball and can, at this point, judge talent okay for a regular person and still I wouldn’t base anything on what I saw there. [pause] Except for Lillard.
Robert: Right. Because none of these players will have the same role come the regular season – not even Lillard (who Terry Pluto has been crushing on since February).
Scott: Right. Role playing is not highly valued there. Which brings me to… are we going to give a contract to Michel Eric?
Robert: You saw him in person. You tell me? What’s your scouting report?
Scott: I’m going to do your woman curves thing and say, “That man’s got some fine arms.” He’s like Ben Wallace. No offense, but an NBA body, for sure. There’s a place for a guy like that.
Robert: Yeah, just looking at the pictures of him in all the “who the hell is this guy” articles … well, you said it: those are some fine arms.
Scott: But he may not be a fit for a team that’s likely to average16 more points than Kyrie scores per game. Is that a stat? “Points over Kyrie”?
Robert: Yes, but it’s one of the advanced stats that I don’t understand.
Scott: Of the guys not [guaranteed to be] on our team he was the only one I liked. Turns out being tall is a real advantage in the NBA.
Robert: How about the guys who should be on our team next year: Tristan, Samardo and Zeller?
Scott: Zeller was the one I paid the most attention to. I like him. He’s solid. He’s in the right place. He moves smoothly and he runs well. I’m not making any super-predictions, but he’s solid.
Robert: I agree. I didn’t trust all of that “he’s great in transition” talk as … well … he’s a 7ft white guy.
Scott: He still is a 7ft white guy. But for a 7ft white guy… he’ll be trailing along nicely when Kyrie gets to the rim.
Robert: Zeller will probably struggle defensively against some bigger guys, but I can see him working into a Kurt Thomas-y guy. Save, of course, Zeller’s Chris Bosh shoulders… and lack of obvious crazy.
Scott: Who do you think he’ll struggle against?
Robert: Tyson Chandler will kill Zeller.
Robert: Cousins will kill Zeller.
Scott: But what about, say, the Lopezs?
Robert: Brook Lopez might be Tyler Zeller’s dream match-up, right now. The additional upper body weight of Robin Lopez’s hair, though, might be tough for Zeller’s shoulders to handle.
Scott: Now you’ve crossed the line, sir.
Robert: But, I think Zeller looks like he could absolutely be a top-8 rotation player on a very good team, agree?
Scott: Oh, yeah. Wait. Do you mean a contending team? You mean the Heat?
Robert: He would absolutely be in the Heat’s rotation.
Scott: The 7ft white guy thing is pretty old fashioned.
Robert: 7 footer who can run with them in transition, rebound and hit an outside shot to open up the lane.
Scott: Sounds very 2000. Windhorst says the heat are going smaller. Mugsy Bogues is gonna be at the four for most of the year.
Robert: But he could play in that system, is all I’m saying. The Heat are going smaller because their best big might be Eddy Curry.
Scott: I agree.
Robert: You talk a lot about the experience of summer league in the Classical piece. Anything Cavs-centric that you want to tell that you had to cut from that?
Scott: Well, I got rejected by Ilgauskus. He was the first cavs-ish person I saw, and I more or less blanched and was all star-struck, and Adam pushed me to go up to him and I did and I was up there with my arm half around him (well, his thigh) and then he said ‘no no pictures’ and I walked away with my head down. Like a child. I thought it was me, but then I saw him reject a ten year old kid.
Also, I think he weighs 17 pounds.
Robert: Gotta be kind to those feet of his. The docs say they can’t structurally support anything even closely resembling a healthy grown man’s weight. How was meeting Danny Ferry?
Scott: That was funnier. Adam shouted to him – and Adam has this whole thing about trying to force me to take pictures with people, which you probably already sense – but I’d just been rejected by Z earlier in the day, so there was this incredibly awkward moment with Ferry where I was like, “Is it okay? Is it okay?” and he just wanted us to take the damn picture, and certainly did want to talk about whether it was okay. He had the smile on already and everything. And then Adam paused to look over the camera and explain to Ferry: “My brother-in-law did your porch.”
Adam’s brother-in-law is a contractor in Cleveland. But still.
I do not know if Danny Ferry knew exactly what to think about that.
Robert: Is it still Ferry’s porch? Does he still live in Cleveland?
Scott: I would guess no? And that was the part I thought was the most confusing. Danny Ferry had no reason to think we were from Cleveland. Maybe Adam said it but, you know, Ferry was trying to make the experience as quick and painless for himself as possible.
Robert: Danny Ferry does not care where you are from.
Scott: Absolutely not. I would guess Danny Ferry does not think about me much at all.
You can follow Scott Henkle on Twitter (@scotthenkle) or by just keeping a reasonable distance behind him. He also met Byron Scott.