INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Five things we’ve learned about the Cavaliers so far in training camp:
1. Dion Waiters is in shape.
That seemed to be the concern among most fans, and they can stop worrying. His conditioning is no longer an issue.
It’s too early to tell how good Waiters will be right away, but here’s what we think we know: He’s a streaky shooter from the perimeter, he can get to the basket practically at will, and as coach Byron Scott said, “he can go over the top” of defenders once there. Overall, he’s looking pretty good.
From the very early looks of things, Waiters could be one of those guys who spends his rookie season scoring 20 points one game and three the next. That makes him not much different than a lot of top 10 picks.
2. C.J. Miles has range.
At one point during shooting drills with Kyrie Irving and a few others, the Cavs’ free-agent acquisition buried 12 consecutive 3-pointers, each from different spots. Yes, it’s just practice, and no one was defending Miles. But it’s still a good sign that when open, he can knock it down.
That’s important because with Antawn Jamison (Lakers) and Anthony Parker (retirement) gone, the Cavs needed to find perimeter threats — particularly once Waiters and Irving get in the lane, draw double-teams and kick it to spotted-up teammates.
3. Samardo Samuels and Jon Leuer will play significant roles.
Again, it’s early, but that is the way it’s looking. Samuels and Leuer are both expected to back up second-year man Tristan Thompson at power forward. Samuels is more of an inside threat, Leuer is a big man who’s effective from the perimeter. So it’s a safe bet Scott will play each according to matchups.
Samuels looks like a different person, having dropped weight, chiseled his frame and possessing a physique that now consists of around 6 percent body fat.
“I’m trying to change my game around to not focus on offense as much and be a presence on defense,” Samuels said.
As for Leuer, Scott said, “He definitely has 3-point range, much more athletic than people think he is, and he’s a tough kid.”
4. Jeremy Pargo appears to be a keeper.
Scott has offered nothing but praise for the backup point guard, acquired in an offseason trade (with a second-round pick, for D.J. Kennedy).
Pargo is a bit of a good-natured prankster and just generally fun to be around. But his coach is a fan because of the way Pargo pushes the ball in practice.
“The thing I love about him the most is the way he talks out there on the floor,” Scott said. “He brings a different energy that we haven’t had the last few years. He brings a positive energy.”
5. The Cavs have some tough roster decisions to make.
If Pargo makes the team, it’s hard to envision the Cavs keeping Donald Sloan, Irving’s backup at the end of last season. Either way, the Cavs have to cut five players from camp.
With Leuer and Pargo seemingly shoe-ins, potential candidates to be released now include camp invitees Justin Holiday and Kevin Anderson, undrafted free agents Kevin Jones and Michael Eric, trade-day acquisition Kelenna Azubuike, returning forward Luke Harangody and Sloan.
Then again, Scott has already said it’s possible the Cavs keep both Pargo and Sloan, and Harangody just accepted the team’s qualifying offer over the summer. So keep in mind, all the names mentioned are pure speculation. And a few of them will make it.