The NBA's Summer League hasn't been kind to Cavs fans. Two years ago, we got a brief look at Andrew Wiggins doing things like hitting mid-range jumpers and pulling tornado-esque spin moves on opponents far inferior, leading to audible cries of sadness when he was traded a few weeks later for Kevin Love. We watched former no. 1 pick Anthony Bennett wheeze his way into making us believe he wasn't the worst player we'd see since Jiri Welsch. And ahead of Kyrie Irving's sophomore season, he was lost for months after punching the stanchion in frustration and breaking his hand. Essentially, the Summer League is the devil and shall be treated as such.
This summer has been different, though. Perhaps we're still basking in the irrational confidence that comes with winning your first championship in 52 years. Perhaps we've simply chosen to ignore the Summer League's similarity to the NFL preseason in that results that happen there should never be used as a predictor of the regular season. Still, watching Jordan McRae and Kay Felder combine their powers to morph into a basketball playing Charizard (no, YOU'VE been playing too much Pokemon Go) has been a beautiful, silly thing to watch.
The two combined for 56 points in their takedown of the Los Angeles Lakers in Summer League tournament play last night, and their varying styles of play made it all the more pleasurable to watch.
McRae, who was originally drafted by the Spurs in 2014 and has spent time playing in Australia and the D-League, is a string bean, bounding through traffic like a large stick figure in tall grass. His shot selection appears to have to rhyme or reason to it, though his ability to create space off the dribble translates into a big ol' green light for his jumper. He's slashed to the rim with ease this summer, and his Gumby-like length gives him options once he gets into the paint.
Felder is a bowling ball with speed, a southpaw with handles. His jumper isn't attractive, but it works once he finds his rhythm. His hesitation dribble is devastating (see above), and not just against guys fighting for a roster spot. D'Angelo Russell had trouble staying in front of him, too, and Felder's twisting layup over the Lakers first round pick from a year ago and some giant white dude belongs at the NBA level.
For this moment, the string bean and the bowling ball are the duo we deserve. Who knows what opportunities await on a team that will once again be chasing a championship, but in the Las Vegas heat, the two bring the humidity.