CLEVELAND -- Here are a few quick observations from our first look of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2015-16 on-court product following their annual Wine & Gold Scrimmage on Monday.
1. Mo Williams was missed
While the Cavs players went through their stretching and pre-scrimmage calisthenics, Williams was shown on the "humungotron" at The Q and was greeted with a warm reception. There was even a smattering of a standing ovation from the 14,480 in attendance. Williams showed that same sharp jump shot that earned him his lone All-Star appearance during his first stint in Cleveland, going 4-for-5 from the field (and 1-for-1 from 3) on all jump shots, finishing with nine points and four assists. His defense at the point of attack left a lot to be desired, however, as camp invitees Jared Cunningham and Quinn Cook both blew by him with ease. With it all but assumed Williams will start opening night in place of the injured Kyrie Irving, the Cavs coaching staff will have its work cut out coming up with a defensive scheme to give Williams the requisite help defense up top.
2. Tristan Thompson is in the building
No, not the real Thompson in the flesh, but his uniform was. As I pointed out on my Instagram account, the Cavs changed their mind about selling Thompson merchandise while he holds out. The Cavs initially believed using Thompson's likeness or selling his merchandise while he wasn't under contract was against league rules, but after further legal consultation and rule interpretation from the NBA decided it would be OK to continue to stock his jerseys, according to a Cavs spokesman.
3. Cook was cooking
Cook, the four-year standout at Duke, looked like he belonged on the court, which is half the battle for a rookie. Especially so for an undrafted rookie on a make-good training camp contract. He led all Cavs scorers with 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting (I actually had him at 15 points on 6-for-7, I think the scorekeeper missed an inbound pass that Cook stole and immediately went up with for an easy layup) and added four assists and two rebounds. His outside shot, which he isn't known for, was also falling as he went 3-for-4 from deep.
"He's been good in camp since day one," Cavs coach David Blatt said of Cook. "I thought Jared [Cunningham] did a real good job, too. A few of our non-contract guys really did a nice job tonight."
4. Hey D.J., that's my D.J.
Another camp invitee, D.J. Stephens out of Memphis, stole the show. He had several highlight reel dunks during layup lines and continued his high-flying act during the scrimmage. Seriously, YouTube this guy.
"He is fun to watch," Blatt said. "He's an exceptional, exceptional athlete. And he can play basketball, too. That's the good thing."
5. Andy returns
Another Cavs player whose cheers from the crowd seemed to be a little more heartfelt than usual was Anderson Varejao. It was his first action in a game situation since December when he tore an Achilles. His game had a lot of rust to it, but just the fact that he was able to play 17 minutes was more important than his zero-points, four-rebounds stat line.
"It felt great to be out there in front of the best fans in the NBA," Varejao said. "It was great. Since December, I don't play any sports. I don't play basketball. So it was great. It was good to be back. I know I have to take baby steps, but like I said, the fans came here tonight to support us. They are looking forward to a good season and we are here. We're going to work hard every day and we're going to do our best this season to try to get the championship."
6. The score didn't matter
The Gold team beat the Wine team 55-49 which is only worth mentioning because most of the Cavs' top rotation played for the Wine team. LeBron James went 2-for-7 in the one period he played, hitting a 3-pointer from about 35 feet and intercepting a Joe Harris pass and taking it the other way for an uncontested dunk for his only buckets. When asked what the Cavs accomplished in the course of the 25-minute scrimmage (they played two 10-minute periods and one five-minute one), James said: "Yeah, no one got hurt."
7. No Kevin and Kyrie
The rest of the Cavs' Big Three weren't on the court, but they were both in the building with Kevin Love sporting a baseball hat with UCLA script across the front and Irving also wearing a black baseball style hat with his personal Nike logo stitched in white on it. Not surprisingly, the fans got loud whenever they were shown on the video screen.
8. Iman in pink
Iman Shumpert didn't play of course, as he's less than a week removed from surgery on his right wrist, but he did show up wearing a new pink cast in place of the black one the doctor originally put on. Shumpert showed off the cast on Instagram and said the color choice was for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Even with the cast, the right-handed Shumpert signed plenty of autographs before tipoff, even asking a young female fan if she was sure she wanted him to sign her jean jacket that she was wearing. (She said yes, and he obliged). Late Monday night, Shumpert published a journal entry on Bleacher Report describing how his injury happened.
9. James' plan for the week
With the Cavs playing back-to-back preseason games this week against the Atlanta Hawks in Cincinnati on Wednesday and then on the road in Philadelphia on Thursday, James said he'll play in one of them -- the one in his home state of Ohio.
"Not sure if it's the front side or the back side but it will probably be, it makes more sense, it will probably be in Cincinnati since they don't get to see us a lot and then we go to Philly, which I'll probably be there in the regular season," James said. "But it hasn't been discussed, but I'll be in one of the two."
10.Delly being Delly
Matthew Dellavedova's summer playing for the Australian national team clearly showed in his play on Monday. His game looked in tune and his confidence was at the level it was during the Cavs' playoff run. He finished with seven points on 3-for-6 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and a steal. But the moment of his that gave me the most satisfaction was seeing him practice his floater during layup lines while some of his other teammates were turning it into a dunk display. Always working, that Delly.