Random thoughts as the Cavaliers reach roughly the halfway point of training camp …
• I understand fans’ concerns over Kyrie Irving’s shooting woes, particularly since he’s coming off a fractured hand. But really, on a list of things the Cavs have to worry about this season, Irving ranks somewhere between refilling the lotion bottles and ordering the postgame pizzas. He’s the reigning Rookie of the Year, well on his way to becoming one of the 10 (five?) best players in the league, and it’s the preseason. Moving on.
• I’m also not concerned about Dion Waiters … yet. I’d like to see him shoot from the outside with a little more consistency, but there have been enough flashes through the first five preseason games to see what the Cavs like about him.
• In Monday’s preseason game against the Orlando Magic, Waiters was dribbling at the top of the key. One crossover and what seemed like one dribble later, he was at the basket. The problem was he missed the shot, which was a problem in summer league, too. Waiters has shown little trouble in breaking down defenses and getting to the basket, but he hasn’t finished well. The Cavs believe that will come.
• Fans might have thought the Cavs were just trying to pump Luke Walton’s trade value when Byron Scott said recently that Walton was the biggest surprise of camp. But the Cavs truly believe it. Walton believes a combination of yoga, pilates and strength training over the summer left his back feeling better than it has in years. He dealt with a minor hamstring issue recently, but appears healthy and moving well.
• Walton will probably make this team, and not just because the Cavs owe him $6 million. He obviously isn’t part of their long-term plans, but his expiring contract could be a nice chip at the trade deadline — particularly since the tax penalties will increase significantly for teams over the cap beginning with the 2013-14 season.
• Perhaps the most intriguing battle of this camp has been at backup point guard, where neither Donald Sloan nor Jeremy Pargo has done much in their game opportunities. Irving will be expected to play about 34 to 36 minutes this season, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for the backup. The main job of the backup point guard on this team is to not turn the ball over and hold things down until Irving re-enters. But Sloan and Pargo are both turning the ball over too much.
• Sloan has seven turnovers and seven assists in 50 minutes. Pargo has nine turnovers and 10 assists in about 50 minutes. Sloan is averaging a turnover every 7 minutes. Pargo averages one every 5½ minutes. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but to put it in perspective, Washington Wizards guard John Wall led the league in turnovers last season. He averaged one every 9.4 minutes.
• No one (thankfully) asked me, but I’d have a hard time keeping both Sloan and Pargo and cutting loose 7-foot center Micheal Eric. Granted, Eric has played sparingly and done little in his time on the floor. But the Cavs have been high on him since summer league, when Scott compared his defensive potential to first team All-Defensive Team member Serge Ibaka.
• Eric no question is a project, but I’d rather see him make the team and spend some time in Canton to see if anything develops rather than keep an extra point guard hanging around. Point guards are pretty easy to find in the Development League, but 7-footers aren’t.
• I have no idea if C.J. Miles will start, but he looks awfully good at small forward with Alonzo Gee coming off the bench. Gee is best suited for a bench role, he was simply thrust into the starting lineup last season when Omri Casspi collapsed. Miles does a little bit of everything and will be a nice addition, but truthfully, he’s probably a bench player on a legitimate playoff contender, too. Provided the Waiters and Tyler Zeller picks work out, small forward remains the biggest area of need on this team.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.