Tavares Keeping Up In Fast-Paced NBA Summer League

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In the back of Cox Pavilion, a place populated for the past week by a collection of very tall individuals, one stands out.

Edy Tavares is the tallest player at Summer League at 7'3" and towers over everyone else in the building. His arms seem to go on forever -- his wingspan is 7'9", the longest of any player currently in the NBA -- and as I extended my hand out to shake his, I realized quickly that his hand had completely engulfed mine.

Tavares is a quiet but confident 22-year-old from Cape Verde. He began playing basketball competitively at 17 years old and has quickly learned a deft touch with the ball on offense and is an imposing defender at the rim with his length. He has developed quickly but understands that he has to continue working hard to grow even more to become a better, more polished player.

“Experience,” Tavares said. “I have to get experience. I play only four years, so I try to learn experience to get better every day.”

Aside from his size, Tavares was a relative unknown entering Summer League. The expectations from those that had limited knowledge of his game were pretty low. Rare is it for someone with his size to move well enough to keep up with the pace of the NBA game, particularly now as much of the league is moving away from traditional big men.

Over the past week, Tavares has been impressive. His movement is terrific, both running down the court in transition and also moving in the half-court. Tavares’ long legs allow him to cover ground quickly from the weak side on defense and block or alter shots at the rim. On offense, he’s aggressive rolling to the basket in pick-and-rolls, and with his size he presents a huge target as he runs down the lane.

“I think I can run. I can move pretty good and pretty fast. I still have to improve with my speed and my agility with the way the NBA works, but I’m comfortable [with the speed of the game].”

On offense, Tavares has proven to be capable of hitting mid-range shots. He has on multiple occasions stepped out to the baseline and hit a 15-footer, and his free throw form is terrific. He’s also shown off his touch by hitting a few hook shots in the paint, which with his length he can seemingly get off anytime he can get in the deep post. His ability to shoot the ball and his touch, along with his size in the paint to collect offensive rebounds and get easy baskets, make him a very unique player.

“[Shooting the ball] is just one more quality that I have. I also have to play really good around the basket, protecting the rim and dunking, but sure, it’s one more thing I have to offer.”

Defensively, Tavares consistently alters shots at the rim. His presence in the paint is imposing, and he deters players from attacking the basket because he is very good at using that wingspan to block shots. He still has things to learn on the defensive end -- such as avoiding three second violations and positioning -- but his raw ability to defend on and off the ball is very impressive. The more he keeps playing and learning the game the better he gets, and he could become an excellent paint protector.

“I just need more experience. Learning the players and opponents, knowing where they’re going to be at. I need more experience to learn those things [to become a better overall defender].”

Tavares is a fairly raw player still learning the nuances of the game and it will take time for him to gain that experience that he craves to become a more polished player. However, the talent that he has displayed for a man of his stature certainly makes him an intriguing prospect and a player who seems on his way to a bright future.

Story by Robby Kalland