2 Cavaliers Who Impressed Most During Summer League (And 1 Who Let Us Down)

A pair of Cleveland Cavaliers who impressed during Summer League, and one who didn't make much noise.

A pair of Cleveland Cavaliers who impressed during Summer League, and one who didn't make much noise.
A pair of Cleveland Cavaliers who impressed during Summer League, and one who didn't make much noise. / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers' 2023 Summer League team just put together one of the event's strongest runs ever. This squad rattled off four straight wins to begin the tournament, held off the Brooklyn Nets in the semifinals, then handed the Houston Rockets a 21-point thrashing in the championship game.

A few Cavs members really stood out during the festivities in Las Vegas, while some didn't contribute as much to the title run. With that in mind, here's two players who impressed the most, and one who didn't.

Stud: Isaiah Mobley

How about we start with the Championship Game MVP? Isaiah Mobley was the hearbeat of this squad throughout the tournament, leading the team in rebounds per game (8.3) and pacing all players in points in three of the team's six contests. He was active on defense as well, notching a solid 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals over the course of the event.

The younger Mobley brother saved his best for last, however, exploding for 28 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in the championship, en route to winning MVP.

This is exactly the kind of performance Cleveland wanted from the second-year forward in a featured role. He had the green light to be aggressive on offense, and he responded by converting his 12.5 field goal attempts per game at just under a 50% clip. He also made his presence felt on the boards, showcasing that he can physically dominate low-end NBA opponents.

Now it's on Mobley to translate his SL play to the regular season. Cavs fans saw him play just 84 total minutes as a rookie in 2022-23, but if he keeps this up, there may be a Mobley brother on the court at nearly all times for J.B. Bickerstaff's squad.

Dud: Luke Travers

Unfortunately, Cleveland is still waiting to reap any rewards from its investment in guard/wing Luke Travers. The Australian was selected in the second round (No. 56 overall) by the Cavs in 2022, and played for their Summer League team last year, but ultimately was kept overseas to continue his development.

Travers then returned for this year's Summer League, but the improvements were minimal. After posting 6.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 1.8 APG during the event in 2022, Travers posted 7.5/6.3/2.0 across those same categories while playing one extra game in 2023.

Suffice it to say, those numbers aren't eye-popping, especially in comparison to the likes of Mobley. In fact, the Cavs had a clear leading four in Mobley, Sam Merrill, Emoni Bates and Craig Porter Jr., while Travers was an afterthought on offense. The Perth native ranking fifth on the team in APG is incredibly disappointing, doubly so considering he's not a prolific scorer. While his rebounding contributions were nice, it's not difficult to find a wing who can help on the glass with minimal scoring.

In an ideal scenario, Travers would've showcased more of his potential running the offense against unestablished NBA talents. Instead, he remains a major question mark in the Cavs' future plans.

Stud: Sam Merrill

Hopefully the Cavaliers have put Sam Merrill in an ice bath after his scorching display in Vegas. The 2020 draft pick, who's appeared in games for three different franchises since entering the league, made the most his opportunity to show the entire league what he can do by lighting it up from 3-point range during the event. He even earned All-Summer League First Team honors.

Merrill finished SL play as the Cavs' leading scorer with 20.4 PPG, and that was thanks in large part to his shooting from deep. The Utah State product nailed a whopping 25 threes in just six games on 56 attempts (44.6%). In fact, Merrill only made six buckets that weren't triples during the tourney, showing just how comfortable he was finding his shot from beyond the arc.

That kind of shooting display has turned a ton of heads across the NBA, and it's also made Cleveland's front office look like geniuses after inking Merrill to a three-year deal this past March.

There's no overstating how important Merrill's skillset is in today's game. Though he hasn't any gotten meaningful run since his rookie year, a performance like that should give him plenty of positive momentum heading into training camp. Assuming this form doesn't go away anytime soon, Merrill has a chance to carve out a legit role on an offense that could use some extra scoring.

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