While the Cavaliers' rookies, like the team in general, haven't accomplished a lot this season, coach Byron Scott said he's happy with the development of his five first-year players.
"Overall our rookies have done well this year, given the circumstances of where they were at the beginning of the season to where they are now," he said. "They've all grown tremendously. They've all shown they can definitely play in this league.
"I'm at the point where I'm asking more from them. I have to remember they are still young and they are learning. It's a process. We're trying to develop those guys. Sometimes when you are dealing with 21- and 22-year-old guys, it takes time for that to process in their minds. They've all shown they have futures in this league."
The only first-round pick in the quintet is guard/forward Christian Eyenga, and he was only a No. 30 overall selection in the 2009 NBA draft.
Eyenga, a Republic of Congo native, is a raw prospect who could be a year or two away from contributing on a good team. This offseason is important to him because he just needs to play against other NBA players. The potential lockout could wipe out all or part of summer league, a competition Eyenga sorely needs.
Eyenga has fallen behind forward Alonzo Gee at small forward. He's an exciting dunker, but his minutes and overall play have sagged as the season has worn on. He's averaging 7.4 points and 3.2 rebounds. He said he wants to improve his shooting and dribbling and to work on his body in the offseason.
Forward-center Samardo Samuels is a definite keeper. He's one of the Cavs' best players right now. Some might say that's not saying much, but he has worked hard to put himself in this situation. Finding young bigs these days isn't easy. He's shown that he has a bright future in the NBA. He's averaging 7.7 points and 4.1 rebounds and is shooting 46.6 percent from the field.
"Samardo has a bright future in this league," Scott said. "Once he knows the league better, he'll get better. He's shown the biggest strides of anybody this season. Until (Antawn Jamison) got hurt, he wasn't playing. He kept his head and kept working in practice. You have to give him credit for that."
Guard Manny Harris has been on a roller-coaster ride all season. He went from back-to-back 20-point games to barely getting off the bench. When the Cavs are healthy in the backcourt, he's going to sit.
"Mostly with Manny, it's because we have most of the guards back," Scott said. "When Baron (Davis) is ready to play and we can get his back spasms taken care of, then Manny's minutes will drop."
Harris is averaging 6.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He's one of the Cavs' most accurate 3-point shooters at 39.3 percent.
"I'm getting a little frustrated at times," Harris said. "I'd like to get out there and play. I'd like to be out there."
He said he's had some trouble coping with the losing season.
"Whenever you lose, it's hard to deal with," Harris said. "You grow from it."
Forward Luke Harangody should probably be a fifth big on a good team. The Cavs are billing him as a Matt Bonner-type player. He's no where near the shooting Bonner is. Harangody has an ugly shot, but it tends to go in. His drawback is when he faces lengthy power forwards. He's also not a great rebounder. He's averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in seven games with the Cavs.
Center Semih Erden, a native of Turkey, continues to be a tease. He's played a total of 11 minutes since coming to the Cavs. He's had shoulder and groin issues that have sidelined him. He might need surgery on his shoulder after the season.
MAGIC 97, CAVS 86: The Cavaliers have utilized 21 different starting lineups this season. After another lackluster effort, at least through three quarters on Monday, coach Byron Scott was hinting at another change. Despite a late rally by the Cavs, the Magic prevailed at Quicken Loans Arena.
"I'll have a clearer picture (about his lineup) tomorrow," Scott said. "I'm thinking about it as we speak."
If he makes a change, it will likely be in the backcourt. Either Ramon Sessions or Anthony Parker could be replaced. He could also shift Parker to small forward in place of Alonzo Gee.
The Cavs trailed after three quarters 80-58 before guard Daniel Gibson spurred an 18-3 run to help the Cavs climb back in the game. He had 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
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