Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard Kay Felder is moving back and forth from the NBA to the D-League as the Cavs look to sign Deron Williams.
Rookie Kay Felder of the Cleveland Cavaliers has had somewhat of a storybook career in regards to how he has reached the NBA.
Playing three years of college ball at the Horizon League school, Oakland University, the 21-year-old lefty dominated the conference while breaking plenty of records.
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Standing 5-foot-9, Felder decided to enter the NBA draft after his junior season and forgo his senior year at Oakland, despite knowing that he would most likely be selected in the second round (if not undrafted).
After winning Player of the Year in the Horizon League and recording more assists than any player the Horizon League was ever seen, Felder had accomplished more than enough to be considered an all-time great at both his school and conference.
The next step? Accomplishing the same feats at the next level.
So far, his rookie season has derailed that vision for the time being.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, in the 37 games Felder has played this season he is averaging 4.0 points, 1.3 assists, and 1.0 rebounds per game while shooting 39.4 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from 3 in only 9.5 minutes played per game.
Having no picks in last year’s draft, the Cavs decided to shell out a good chunk of money for a backup point guard ($2.4 million is also about how much Felder’s salary will cost the Cavs over his three year contract) even though Matthew Dellavedova wouldn’t decide to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks until a week later.
Feb 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kay Felder (20) drives to the basket during the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
With Dellavedova out, Felder in and Mo Williams essentially there to fill up a roster spot, it felt like Felder was the guy that the Cavaliers organization, and especially LeBron, wanted to move forward with.
Fast forward to late February and Felder finds himself being tossed back and forth from the NBA to the D-League after news broke that veteran Deron Williams will most likely be signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers to help alleviate the mistakes that the rookie has been prone to making.
In defense of the Cavaliers, Felder has not been productive and him being assigned to the D-League makes sense from a team standpoint.
Felder is a great scorer with extreme confidence, but that confidence is often what lands him in some bad situations. He can get too erratic too quickly and it results in him getting stuck with the ball and no where to go or anyone to pass to.
Felder can’t drive straight at defenders like he did in college. Despite his height, he’s built like a tank, and he used that to his advantage in college. Attacking the rim, drawing fouls, using his body to create space and get shots over taller defenders, Felder loves to attack the rim.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that in the NBA, where everyone is stronger and more athletic than anyone in the Horizon League.
Even still, he is capable of showcasing his potential with crafty layups, a smooth jumper and feet that move like lightning.
Unlike his offense, Felder’s defense is practically non-existent. While he is quick enough to stay in front of defenders, he isn’t big enough to keep his man from bullying around him, which leads to constant exposure.
He plays with a huge heart and will be the first player to dive on the floor for a loose ball, but in this instance, his heart can’t overcome his height. Yet.
Keep in mind of Felder’s transition, playing in the Horizon League for three seasons then jumping to the NBA and playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers is a huge upgrade in the talent that surrounds him.
With the recent success of the Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas, their is hope that Felder can take his above average scoring ability and turn it into something special.
The “good” news for Felder is that an aging Deron Williams will be his replacement, meaning the Cavaliers hope to stash Felder now with the belief that over the next few seasons he can develop into their primary backup point guard going forward.
If the Cavaliers were to of traded for someone such as Shelvin Mack or T.J. McConnell before the trade deadline ended, Felder would have been in a tricky position and possibly could have been one of the pieces sent off in a trade.
This isn’t an ideal scenario for Felder as he clearly isn’t ready to be a productive NBA player, but with plenty of time to learn, he can develop himself into a reliable backup for Kyrie that could one day (most likely several years from now) take the reins of the offense.