After some humble beginnings, Samardo Samuels continues to grow into a legitimate big man in the NBA.
Samuels has averaged 16.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in his three starts with the Cavaliers. He's also shooting 53 percent from the field.
He was undrafted after his two-year career at Louisville. That continues to be a source of motivation for the 6-foot-9, 260-pounder.
"Every day I step out there, I feel I have something to prove," Samuels said. "That was one of the worst things I had to go through. Going undrafted was tough for me. I worked so hard and it didn't happen for me. Coming here to the Cavs, every day I have to give all I have. They gave me the opportunity to play in the NBA."
He said he doesn't know why he was not drafted.
"My mindset is to show that I should have been drafted," Samuels said. "That's my whole motivation."
He played well in the Las Vegas summer league and was signed to a three-year contract by the Cavs (12-50).
"He's definitely blossoming as a player," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "He's made tremendous strides from the first day of training camp to today."
Samuels, 22, has found a very big fan on the Cavs' roster. It turns out that guard Baron Davis coached him in the Elite 24 Hoops Classic while the former was in high school.
"He has an opportunity to be a very, very good big man in this league, like Paul Millsap or Carlos Boozer," Davis said. "He has tremendous talent."
WARRIORS 95, CAVALIERS 85: Certainly, there wasn't going to be another cruel twist of fate.
J.J. Hickson, the Cavaliers' last legitimate inside presence still standing, ran off the court with 7:19 seconds remaining in their 95-85 loss to Golden State.
At first blush, it looked like he had broken his left pinky finger. But X-rays revealed that it was just dislocated.
"Baron (Davis) threw me the ball and it just bent," Hickson said. "Doc (Dr. Richard Parker) popped it back in place. The first person I thought about was 'Tawny."
It was just 10 days ago that the Cavs' leading scorer, forward Antawn Jamison, was lost for the rest of the season with a broken left pinky.
The 6-foot-9, 242-pounder said he was playing (Tuesday) in Milwaukee.
Hickson was kneeling on the court near the foul line when Warriors guard Monta Ellis drained a three-pointer with 7:19 to play. That extended Golden State's lead to nine points, 83-74.
It was part of a 9-0 run by the Warriors (28-35), who were never seriously threatened again.
The Cavs' undoing started in the third quarter when they were outscored, 29-19. Ellis, who led all scorers with 24 points, did most of the damage with a 5-for-5 performance from the three-point line en route to 17 points in the third.
For the game, Ellis had a career-high 6-of-9 three-point goals, and added seven rebounds and seven assists.
Guard Baron Davis paced the Cavs with 19 points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Coach Byron Scott said Davis is getting close to moving into the starting lineup.
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