NBA Sunday: Scott Shrugs Off Trade Rumors
Byron Scott Shrugs Off Trade Rumors, Wants to Develop Young Core
The year following LeBron James’ taking of the talents to South Beach, the Cleveland Cavaliers were neither good nor even entertaining. The rebuilding effort, however, has been relatively fast and pretty successful only two short years later.
Of course, a lot of that has to do with Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, someone Cavs head coach Byron Scott admits is the future of his franchise.
“The kid only had eleven games in college, he had sixty games in the pros and he’s developed into one of the better young point guards in this league,” Scott told HOOPSWORLD while watching his Summer League team in Las Vegas. “People saw what he did with the Olympic team in some of those practices. He can be a very special player. We expect big things from Kyrie Irving, putting a lot of pressure on him to come out there and deliver, and that’s only from within.
“We’re looking at this guy as being one of the premier point guards in the league.”
Of course, he’s not the only egg in the Cavaliers’ basket right now. Cleveland GM Chris Grant wrapped up a long draft process in June, with rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller to show for his troubles.
Scott is understandably excited about coaching these young talents as well, and in Summer League he was able to get a look at his frontcourt of the future—Zeller and second-year forward Tristan Thompson.
“I like the fact that Tyler can play four and five. He can stretch the floor because he can shoot it from about seventeen/eighteen feet,” he said. “Tristan did a heck of a job this summer in getting down there in the post and making some post moves that we wanted him to work on. I really envision those two guys along with Andy Varejao being three guys that you can kind of rotate in and out. They can all play the four and the five so it makes us a little bit more versatile.”
Of course, trade rumors have swirled lately that Cleveland might be looking to move Varejao in a deal that would net the team Lakers center Andrew Bynum, but Scott actually downplayed those rumblings and instead put the focus on the talent they’ve acquired in the last two drafts. That, according to Scott, is the way he’s currently focused on restoring his team to respectability.
“I’m looking at a nice young core of guys,” Scott said. “If we add some guys to that core, more power to us, and if we don’t we’ll go with what we got because I think right now the future of our team is pretty bright.”
Bismack Biyombo Showing Big Improvements Early
Once it became clear last season that the Charlotte Bobcats were working themselves toward record-breaking mediocrity, the NBA world in general stopped tuning in to their games. Nobody wanted to watch that train wreck, but those that turned their attention elsewhere missed something interesting happening out in Charlotte: rookie center Bismack Biyombo started to get kind of good.
Okay, so “kind of good” isn’t exactly a glowing report on a former top-ten lottery pick, but Biyombo was supposed to be a project—a raw prospect with the physical tools to eventually transform into one of the league’s most talented defensive players.
Instead of waiting years to see flashes of that, we got very rapid development right away from Biyombo. He had 11 double-digit rebound games last season, and ten games in which he blocked four or more shots. That’s a good start, and probably better than anybody expected for the young man’s rookie season.
“When we started nobody believed in me,” Biyombo told HOOPSWORLD in Las Vegas. “When [the Bobcats] drafted me, they gave me a chance to show what I could do out there. Down the road I showed who I was going to be and how things were going to be in the future.
“I’m not going to say a lot,” he added, “People can keep watching games and keep seeing how much better I’m getting. Of course there is always negativity, and that kind of helps you to get up there and work hard and get better.”
Biyombo, who everybody in the Charlotte organization is just enamored with not only because of his physical tools but because of his likeable, gentle demeanor, has worked very hard to get his game to this point. He’s already improving faster than anyone expected, and at 19 years old he’s still got plenty of time to establish himself, not that it will be easy.
“It’s just a challenge for me. I always go to the gym with that kind of challenge, saying I want to get better and prove to people at some point that they’re wrong,” Biyombo said, immediately breaking into a smile of gratification.
He, like the rest of his team, knows the immediate goal for 2012-2013 is to get out of the league basement.
“We’re just hoping, for one thing, to play a better game and to win more games. Do things that we didn’t do last year and be better as a team and as people. Just keep moving forward.”
Biyombo, who after the interview made it expressly clear that he wanted to thank God for blessing him with an incredible whirlwind of a year, is the poster child for progress in this organization.
With the addition of veterans like Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood, as well as second-overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, progress seems inevitable. But nobody on this team is easier to root for than Biyombo, the kid who could help make the Bobcats appointment television this year rather than a team to be ignored completely.
Quincy Miller Taking Expected Route to NBA Dream
Watching Quincy Miller and his Baylor teammate Perry Jones III slide down the draft board last month was one of the most painful things anybody could ever see at a draft. It’s not like either guy was a green room invite pushed out of the first round a la Rashard Lewis, but with every pick a team used on somebody else, both Miller and Jones slunk deeper and deeper into their chairs.
Jones finally was selected by Oklahoma City with the 28th pick in the first round, but Miller—once projected as a possible lottery pick before the 2011-2012 college season got underway—dropped all the way down to Denver at pick #38 despite possessing first-round talent.
“I think it was my knee that scared some teams off,” Miller told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m fine, but I guess some teams didn’t think so.”
Miller tore his ACL as a senior in high school, something that probably slowed him down a little bit in college and clearly was the motivation behind teams passing on him for other players. But Miller has the names and draft picks memorized of all the second-round players that have ever turned into stars. Manu Ginobili. Gilbert Arenas. Michael Redd—and so many more.
In other words, he’s ready to start proving some people wrong.
“It was crazy, but at the same it doesn’t matter where you started,” Miller said. “It matters where you finished.
“I’m just trying to get in where I can fit in,” he continued. “I love the Nuggets organization, I love the GM and I love the way they play. It’d be really exciting to make this team.”
That could be the tricky part, as the Nuggets already have guaranteed money committed to 15 players for the 2012-2013. Using the amnesty provision on Chris Andersen might have carved out some room for Miller, but the Nuggets turned right back around and signed Anthony Randolph. Point guard Julyan Stone is only guaranteed $100,000 and could potentially be cut by the Nuggets if they really wanted to make room for Miller, but teams tend to want to carry three point guards on a roster, and Miller is not that.
All this reads as trouble for Miller, who has used Summer League to show he’s got a better all-around game than some people think.
“The main thing that people are worried about is my body, maybe because I’m skinny. I’m going to add a little more weight, get a little more beefy, and then it’ll be a little bit of a different game for me,” he said.
“I need to work on my rebounding, and that’s something I’ve been trying to do in Summer League. I wanted to rebound more and score a little bit less, because that’s how everybody’s always known me. ‘Oh, he wants to score.’ I just wanted to show that I could do everything else.”
It might take “everything else” to get Miller into the league this year, but even if he ends up in the D-League or overseas for a time, he’s got NBA talent. Were he healthy, he might have been a lottery pick this past year, but that obviously can’t happen anymore. Now, the dream has changed a little bit, and his route to the league might be a little more winding than he dreamed.
Still, if the end result is a spot on an NBA roster, he’ll take it. He’s more than ready to prove he’s worth giving an opportunity.