The Cavaliers entered Summer League with a mild level of excitement.
No, they didn’t have the flashiest players in Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, or Keegan Murray.
They also didn’t have the big returning names in Brooklyn’s Cam Thomas or Golden State’s Moses Moody.
But once the summer exhibition came to a close, the Cavs found plenty of reasons to be excited: Ochai Agbaji‘s flamethrower, Luke Travers‘ hair, and the playmaking of RJ Nembhard.
Nembhard’s strong play has been overlooked slightly in lieu of Agbaji and Isaiah Mobley, brother of Cavs star Evan Mobley.
But Nembhard nonetheless had an excellent summer.
And while we may not see him in a Cavs jersey for long stretches this season, fans should get to know the Texas Christian product.
Here are three things to know about RJ Nembhard:
Nembhard isn’t the only athlete in his family.
RJ’s father, Ruben, played one season of NBA ball before a 15-year career in the CBA.
In addition, the elder Nembhard played in Greece for a season, putting up a nice 18.2 points per game, as well as a short stint in the NBL with the Townsville Crocodiles.
RJ Nembhard couldn't be stopped 💪
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 16, 2022
And RJ’s grandfather also played professional sports.
Not basketball, however; football.
Nembhard’s grandfather, Joe Beauchamp, played nine years in the NFL.
From 1966 to 1975, Beauchamp lined up as a defensive back for the San Diego Chargers.
While with the Chargers, Beauchamp set a team-record for interceptions in a single game with three against the Denver Broncos in 1972.
It’s a Chargers record that still stands to this day.
And then there’s Nembhard’s sister, Jayden, who has played collegiate volleyball for both Long Beach State and Texas Christian University.
2. Summer League Standout
Nembhard was one of Cleveland’s best Summer League players.
His 4.2 assists were the most of any of his teammates and he finished second in scoring with 14.8 points per night.
That figure is just shy of Agbaji’s team-high 15 points per contest.
I’ve been really impressed with RJ Nembhard this SL as the primary ball-handler for the Cavs.
He’s handled the role very well, allowing the team to use Ochai in a role similar to the one he’ll be playing in the NBA.
Clipped up some of his strong on-ball moments from Sunday ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/FMYi6mXzT9
— Brayden Todd (@BraydenBallin) July 12, 2022
But in just about every other category, Nembhard can be found: fourth in rebounds, fourth in steals, second in minutes, second in attempts, fifth in field goal percentage, and so on.
His strong play is likely a big reason why he earned a two-way contract, filling in the roster spot with draft pick Isaiah Mobley.
3. Promising Future?
Despite only earning another two-way contract, the Cavs maintain a fair amount of interest in Nembhard.
Right Down Euclid’s Evan Dammarell explained Cleveland’s hopes for Nembhard:
“Sources have continued to tell Right Down Euclid that the Cavaliers believe Nembhard has the potential to be a two-way point-forward that can be a quality depth piece. But, with the overabundance of established wings ahead of him, along with the recent signings of Raul Neto and Ricky Rubio, it’s tough sledding for Nembhard to crack Cleveland’s rotation. The thing is, that’s totally fine and shouldn’t shut down Nembhard being a factor in J.B. Bickerstaff’s rotation. Instead, it just makes things even more interesting for the Cavaliers.”
Dammarrell makes an excellent point about Nembhard’s playing time this season: there’s just not enough space on the Cavs’ bench.
If the team was sure that Nembhard could be a viable wing this season, the team likely wouldn’t have drafted Agbaji.
Instead, expect Nembhard to continue developing in the G-League, with a few opportunities this season in Cleveland.
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