Cavs Dribbles: Camp Notes, Darius Garland, Caris LeVert, Evan Mobley, Ty Jerome

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Random dribbles from Cavaliers training camp after the first few days.Darius Garland slaps hands with Caris LeVert

1. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff and the Cavs have been talking a lot about the conditioning portion of camp, as that’s been a very deliberate focus.

2. Bickerstaff on that topic: “We are getting after it. It’s with intent and purpose. We want to make this difficult. We want to put ourselves, not only physically but mentally, in a conditioning space that gives us an advantage. So, if we know we can go through difficult things, when it happens in games, we have already been tested.”

3. Caris LeVert is among those who have noticed. “I think in situations like life and basketball you grow in uncomfortable situations,” he said. “I feel like if you take it on with the right mentality and the right mindset, it may be uncomfortable at first. But if you keep doing it, you’ll be more comfortable at it and you’ll grow.”

4. Other than that, most of the camp has been focused on integrating newcomers such as Max Strus, Georges Niang and Ty Jerome. While Strus and Niang are considered the two biggest offseason acquisitions, Jerome has been opening some eyeballs.

5. LeVert on Jerome: “I knew he was super-skilled, high basketball IQ, really good shooter. He’s shown that he’s really competitive as well in the first couple days of camp. But I’ve watched him closely since he’s been at (Virginia), so I’ve been a fan. Seeing him up close is the same as watching him. He’s a very skilled player and he takes winning seriously.”

6. Another big topic has been the leadership of Darius Garland. He seems to be more vocal this year and it’s impressed both the coaching staff and his teammates. Hard to believe, but Garland is now in his fifth NBA season.

7. Garland’s biggest thing this year will be to cut down on turnovers. He says he knows that.

8. LeVert on Garland: “First and foremost he’s a good listener, he has a good feel of what’s going on around him. He’s relatable and he’s very low maintenance. He’s not someone who’s going to push the blame around. He’s going to take accountability. At the same time, he’s a great player, he shows up every day, he works extremely hard. He’s in the weight room, he’s in the training room — he leads by example as well.”

9. Garland is actually the longest-tenured member of the team, when you consider Tristan Thompson left for a couple of years, before returning this offseason. 

10. Is it strange having someone as young as Garland (23) leading the way? Not really, LeVert insisted. “It’s where the NBA is headed nowadays. It’s a young league,” he said. “Darius is young but he’s got a lot of experience as well. He’s played in a lot of big games, he’s been the No. 1 option, last year stepping over to the No. 2 option. So he’s been in a lot of different situations.”

11. Speaking of Thompson, he’s been taking Evan Mobley under his wing and offering big-man coaching tips. Mobley seems to be enjoying it so far. “It’s been great. He’s a great guy, always has a great energy,” he said. “Throughout practice, he talks to me a lot, giving me tips and stuff on what he sees. He’s been great so far.”

12. Year No. 3 tends to be a big one for players “taking a leap” in the NBA. Who can forget how Garland did it, for instance? Now, it’s that time for Mobley. “I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s like a quantity or like a number to go off of, but just me feeling that I got better,” is how he described it. “Every year, that’s really my main goal is just keep getting better. So that quantifies a good year for me.”

13. The Cavs are getting to the point where they could use a game. They’ve been facing only each other in two-a-days since things got rolling on Tuesday. Bickerstaff said it’s been a combination of straight practice and scrimmaging.

14. The good news? The first preseason game isn’t far off, taking place Tuesday on the road vs. the Hawks.

15. With the likes of Strus, Niang, Jerome and Damian Jones all looking good, as well as promising rookie Emoni Bates, Bickerstaff said the Cavs “could easily go 11 deep” this season. 

16. That, of course, doesn’t mean it’ll always be doable. “The 11th guy will find his minutes throughout the bulk of the season,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s difficult to get to 11 guys of consistency in a 48-minute game. But that 10th man can rotate between whoever that 11th or 12th guy is and I think that’s where that guy will find his minutes.”

17. We have tons more on our Cavs page including a lot of podcasts, some of which include player interviews. People have asked which is my favorite, and I like them all — but will pick the one with Bates. I’m very intrigued to see how he develops. Again, you can check it all out on our Cavs page here.

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