CLEVELAND — You can’t put too much stock in a scrimmage, particularly one that involves only your own teammates.
But if you’re talking about scrimmages played in front of the public, such as the Cavaliers’ Wine & Gold exhibition Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena, you could do worse.
In fact, this one was closer to an actual game than in seasons past, with youngsters such as Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and several others treating this like it counted in the standings.
Not surprising, considering jobs are on the line here. It’s position-battles aplenty, because at some point, the Cavs will have to send five of the 20 players in camp on their not-so-merry way.
Right now, it’s still too early to tell who should stay and who should start dialing up the D-League scouts. But it’s time to focus on the positives. For one day, anyway, Cavs fans can take comfort knowing:
• Waiters, the rookie guard out of Syracuse, displayed some serious explosiveness. He missed both of his 3-point attempts, but went 4-for-7 from the field otherwise. Two of those baskets came off nifty finishes near the bucket. As coach Byron Scott pointed out, Waiters is explosive on drives in the lane and can go over defenders at the rim. It was an encouraging performance.
• Irving is as good as ever. He looked rusty at times (don’t we all?), but generally, he was the most dangerous player on the floor even when he wasn’t at his best. With a point guard like Irving, just about anything is possible on a regular-season night.
• Omri Casspi is clearly more confident. He has repeatedly stated that he’s not going to talk about last season, and that’s fine by everyone. It was a year no one wants to remember. But Saturday, he took the ball to the basket, buried a couple jumpers and just seemed like he truly believed in himself. The fact Alonzo Gee (0 points) didn’t really show up may mean there, again, could be a battle for the starting small forward spot.
• C.J. Miles will shoot, and while he may not always make it, he’ll score. Miles came out ready to fire away, and that’s a good thing. The Cavs need points by any means necessary. Miles is athletic and possesses a take-charge attitude. Based on the scrimmage, he should be more than an ample replacement for the departed Antawn Jamison. Miles may not score quite as much, but it clearly won’t be for a lack of effort.
• Undrafted rookie Kevin Jones looked at least as good as any other big man. That says a lot considering Jones is hardly going to be a focal point of the offense. Yet he proved to be a physical presence who can face the basket and take an opponent off the dribble. Jones finished with six points and five rebounds.
• It might be surprising to hear, but veteran small forward Luke Walton was very good. He played with energy, leadership and as always, kept the ball moving. If Walton can stay healthy (a monstrous uncertainty), he just may be worthy of court time. That’s a lot different than what most fans think he’s still here for — which is to possess a valuable expiring contract for a potential trade.
• Finally, Jon Leuer and Samardo Samuels were solid, as was rookie center Tyler Zeller. This despite the fact Zeller seemed to play with a little rookie shyness. Tristan Thompson, Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao were hardly noticeable, but they have nothing to prove. They’re on the team. A much more pressing issue is who will make it as backup point guard. Both Jeremy Pargo and Donald Sloan appear qualified.