Rookie point guard Kay Felder wasn’t even an official member of the Cleveland Cavaliers yet before the team made a sizable investment in him.
The Cavs entered the 2016 NBA Draft without a pick to make. Still soaking in the champagne from the championship they won days beforehand, it was tough to fault them for not being entirely focused on the event to begin with.
That said, Cleveland found a way to get in, purchasing the 54th overall pick for $2.4 million. In paying that much for the chance to select Felder, the team made it clear it held him in high regard.
At the time, it seemed to be a curious selection, as the Cavs had a bit of a logjam at point guard. Kyrie Irving was the clear starter, Mo Williams had just picked up his option, while the team also picked up the option for Jordan McRae. Toss in at-the-time free agent Matthew Dellavedova, and you could see Felder might have had to fight for an opportunity with Cleveland.
In the time since, Felder was indeed granted a chance to prove himself to the Cavs, one he’s currently cashing in on during the NBA Summer League.
Cleveland opened the door for Felder as soon as free agency opened up. Dellavedova was given a $38.5 million offer from the Milwaukee Bucks, which the Cavs had a chance to match since he was a restricted free agent. However, already incredibly cash-strapped, Cleveland let the Australian guard go off to Milwaukee.
While it was a shame to see one of the team’s hardest workers depart, it opened the door for Felder. He won’t be unseating Irving anytime soon, but he could prove worthy of the coaching staff’s attention with a strong summer. Williams’ knee bothered him throughout last season, while McRae is still relatively unproven. If Felder impressed throughout the summer sessions, the Cavs would definitely have to consider easing him into the rotation.
Three games into the Summer League, Felder is certainly proving up to the task at hand.
He made his debut last Friday against the Bucks, contributing 14 points and a game-high five assists. While he struggled in the following match-up against the Brooklyn Nets (six points on 3-for-10 shooting), he still notched four assists. Felder rebounded the following game, last night’s contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves, scoring 15 points and tossing in three assists.
While McRae has poured in more points across the first three games, Felder is proving he’s just as worthy of Cleveland’s consideration. His quickness has been on display from the get-go, as has his ball handling skills. Felder is also proving his diminutive stature – standing at 5’9″ – is not a major issue, pulling off an impressive chase-down block against the Nets. It goes without saying this is something you don’t typically see from someone his size.
There are still some issues to clean up, such as turnovers or consistent effort on defense. At the same time, this is usually the case with most rookies when they take their first steps in the NBA. With Felder, the good is currently outweighing the bad.
The Cavs put pressure on Felder right away, challenging him to prove worthy of the price they paid to pick him. While this isn’t something he’ll be able to accomplish with just a strong Summer League, he’s getting his time with the team off to a great start. If he continues developing quickly, he’ll definitely get an opportunity to earn a spot in the Cavs’ rotation.