While the Cleveland Cavaliers are only projected to win around 24 games next year, it should still be fun, albeit losing, basketball. The team’s offense should look fluid and inventive under new head coach John Beilein, who will find ways to innovate all the youth on the Cavaliers’ roster. Rookie forward Dylan Windler, who Cleveland nabbed with the twenty-sixth pick out of Belmont, should see a lion’s share of minutes right out of the gate. This is due to the fact that other than Windler, the only other small forwards on Cleveland’s roster are Cedi Osman and Sindarius Thornwell. But, Windler seems level-headed coming in to contribute right away for the Cavaliers.

“I wouldn’t say I feel the pressure yet,” said Windler. “I try not to set too high of expectations for myself since it’s my rookie year. But, I’ll do everything I can every night to get better and do the things I can to contribute to the team.”

Windler envisions himself making immediate contributions on offense in catch-and-shoot situations, off-ball cutting and plenty of pin downs. In a sense, Windler will be utilized in Cleveland’s system similarly to how the Utah Jazz feature Joe Ingles. Windler agrees with that sentiment and shared that Ingles was a player he drew a lot of comparisons to coming out of Belmont. He believes this is because of their ability to pass, especially in the pick and roll as well as their mutual ability to stretch the floor.

Windler isn’t joking about his ability to stretch the floor. During NBA Summer League play in Salt Lake City, Windler hit a deep three-pointer against the San Antonio Spurs that caught the attention of nearly every Cavaliers fan. Swagger is the plus-sized sister to confidence and Windler showcased plenty of that for the Cavaliers while on the floor and will continue to do so through training camp and eventually the regular season.

But, before then Windler has a bit of down time and after a fairly hectic summer, he’s glad to be able to unwind. Not too long ago he finally has settled into a permanent situation in Cleveland after living the suite life out of a suitcase for a while. When he finds the time, he wants to explore Cleveland – especially its world famous food scene. But, he shared that it already feels a bit like home due to how similar it feels to his hometown of Indianapolis. Other than that, Windler also made his first big purchase with his NBA paycheck too, a Tesla Model S, something that he has wanted for a while.

Windler has also been using his time off the hardwood to get closer with his fellow rookie teammates. He had already become familiar with the former Vanderbilt point guard and fellow rookie Darius Garland. While at Belmont, Windler said he would sometimes practice with Garland who was then playing for nearby Brentwood Academy. Fast forward to now, and the bond between the two has only grown stronger. The same can be said of the relationship between Windler and fellow rookie Kevin Porter Jr., who bonded during their time together at Summer League.

Some of this can be credited to Beilein, who has told Garland, Windler and Porter that all three rookies would be making serious contributions immediately for the Cavaliers. That’s why establishing chemistry between the three is so important so that when the regular season rolls around they’re already comfortable with each other. But, that comfort extends to the court as well as Windler shared that throughout the summer he, Garland and Porter have all been working together at Cleveland Clinic Courts, the Cavaliers practice facility.

But, Windler building chemistry isn’t reserved to just his fellow rookies. He also has become incredibly close with Cavaliers star forward Larry Nance Jr. this summer. Nance has taken the young forward under his wing and has helped Windler grow comfortable with his new home. Whether it was through dinner, bowling or taking in the Cleveland Indians together, Nance and Windler are already growing close. With Nance also claiming Windler as his rookie too the bond should only grow stronger and lead to on court success.

When it comes to the rest of Cleveland’s roster, Windler shared that he hasn’t grown as close as he has with Garland, Porter and Nance. But, he also knows the perfect opportunity to get to know his teammates. Right near where the Cavaliers practice in Independence there is a Topgolf facility that will be opening soon. Windler expressed that he wants to take his peers there as a way to bond with them during their down time.

It should be noted that before basketball, Windler was fully committed to golf. Windler’s plans changed though after Belmont offered him a scholarship for basketball and he then knew what he wanted to pursue. But, his love for hitting the links never died – he actually grew a bit of a following online thanks to his various trick shot videos. So, when he takes his teammates to Topgolf does Windler expect to show any mercy on his teammates? “Definitely no mercy,” said Windler.

But after making the decision to switch from golf to basketball, things couldn’t have ended up better for Windler. He was drafted by the same team that’s legacy begins and ends with one of his all-time favorite players – LeBron James. This is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Windler.

“This is LeBron’s hometown team where he spent most of his career and won a championship with,” he shared. “He left a huge part of his legacy with this franchise and knowing that you get to be a little part of that is pretty cool.”

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