Cavs Rookie Report
All three took some circuitous routes to the North Coast, but the Cavaliers youngest youngbloods have come together in Cleveland and have slowly worked their way into Byron Scott’s rotation.
While the triumvirate of tenderfoots grow into their roles in the NBA and with the Wine and Gold, we’ll check in periodically on their progress in Cavs.com’s Rookie Report …
- In terms of PT, it’s been an up-and-down week for the rookies.
After getting 16 minutes and not missing a single shot against Portland last Saturday, Manny Harris – (3-3 FG, 2-2 3pt, 4-4 FT) – got just a combined 10:37 over the next two games, taking the collar in each.
With Ryan Hollins’ minutes on the rise, Samardo Samuels got a pair of DNP-CD’s heading into Friday’s contest with the Clippers.
Christian Eyenga continues to gain valuable experience. He’ll make his 12th straight start on Friday night.
Eyenga had notched double-figures in four straight games before an eight-point effort against Detroit on Wednesday. Eyenga still swatted a pair of Pistons’ shot attempts and, in the 17 games he’s played, has at least two blocks in eight of them.
With Blake Griffin rolling in on Friday and John Wall on Sunday, some of this season’s fabulous freshmen will be on display. It’ll be interesting to see how the Wine and Gold’s young guns fare in comparison.
- On Friday night, 13-year veteran Antawn Jamison will get his first crack at the presumptive Rookie of the Year – L.A.’s Blake Griffin.
“He’s a phenomenal talent,” praised Jamison. “He has a nice motor – he goes for 48 minutes and never takes a play off. (He’s) real athletic. Strong. For me, it’s a challenge. I want to see what he’s all about and see what I can do. You need to make him work on the defensive end as well, but it’s going to be a great challenge.”
After Friday’s shootaround, Griffin – speaking about Cleveland’s losing streak – said the longest losing run he’s ever gone through was the Clippers’ nine-game skein in the first month of the season.
“Mentally, I know it’s tough,” said Griffin. “Hopefully it’ll make (the Cavs) hungrier, and (on Friday) we’ll need to rise up and meet that challenge.”
- Manny Harris has bounced back and forth from the starting lineup to coming off Byron Scott’s bench. Like any first-year player, Harris has had his share of highs and lows. And so far, he’s handled his rookie ride with the same cool he exhibits on the hardwood.
As a rookie, who’s been the toughest guy(s) to check?
Manny Harris: I’d say Kobe. Even though I feel like he wasn’t that much into ‘attack mode.’ From just a mental standpoint, he’s been the toughest to guard. Another guy is (Houston’s) Kevin Martin. He’s so unorthodox – you never really know what he’s going to do. That’s one player that you really need to study before you guard him. His shot-fake looks just like his regular shot.
Have veterans talked to you? Have any talked at you?
Harris: Jason Terry – I met him in summer league and every time he sees me, he says some good words to me. Of course, Juwan Howard says some good things to me, being a Michigan guy and all. Jamal Crawford, too.
No veteran has dogged me at all. Even if they did, I could handle my own. But no one has. Raja Bell said something to me when we were playing Utah, but it was nothing serious.
What’s been your favorite city on the road this year?
Harris: Honestly, I’d probably say L.A.
Rookie Wall: fact or fiction?
Harris: Fiction. Definitely. Physically, I still feel great.
What are your impressions of Cleveland?
Harris: It just seem like it’s a real loyal city – loyal fans. Even though we’ve been on a losing streak – a bad losing streak – you still have the support of the people. I know I do, personally. I get a lot of support from people around Cleveland.
Even though they know we’re going through a bad time right now, you still feel that support.
Where do you hang out?
Harris: A little bit of everywhere. I’m in the Strongsville area. I go out to eat downtown. I hit XO. I hit the Corner Alley. I’m all over the place.
- When you’re a player with the hops and athletic ability of Christian Eyenga, it’s just a matter of time before you get a cool nickname. And – with all due respect to Mike Snyder’s “Flying Eyenga” – the early prize might go to local scribe, Larry Durstin, who recently coined the early winner … “SKYENGA!”
Give it a shot the next time the Cavs kid from the Congo takes flight.