Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer League: New News

At this point I think it's fair to say I've watched too much summer ball. I've seen pretty much every team in the two leagues at least 2-3 times. And you can see that for the players it's gotten to the point where the NBA caliber guys are quite clearly standing out regardless of role on the team. You get some guys (Andre Owens and Von Wafer for instance) who have the confidence to put up big numbers in summer league, but lack the skill to be able to do it consistently in the NBA. I like to call these guys the Euroleague Allstars, even though most of them stick around playing in the D-league, getting a 10 day contract or two and basically fighting to live the dream. The problem, both with their game and way of life, is a failure to adjust. These guys don't ever really make it in the NBA because they can't adjust their game. Wafer, for instance, is a high volume, low efficiency shooter. Has been since high school. He believes in his game, and it's not changing. Period. Just like he can't make the adjustment in his mind that the NBA is the only place to play. If I'm Von Wafer I'm taking my shoot'em style over to Europe where I'll avg 20+ pts a night and really enjoy the good years of my professional career, while making a multi-million dollar salary and absolutely pounding the hell out of Euro chicks. I mean, with a slight adjustment for location, wasn't that the dream in the first place? Moving on...


  • JJ Redick put up another 24 pts on 9-14 shooting. Last year he missed out summer league and training camp do to injuries and legal matters. This year he's got himself together and is looking like the Redick Orlando thought they drafted. That is to say they're hoping his jumper makes up for his inability to create a shot on his own and his defenseive shortcomings.

  • Rodney Carney is looking like a dominant player. The key is that he's doing it off the ball. Which is perfect considering he plays with Dre Miller and Iguodala, two guys who like to have the rock. Carney's jumper is looking pure and he's moving in the offense like he spent all summer in the playbook.

  • Teams are game planning for Yi. It's kinda shocking to see the constant double teams and traps being run at him in summer league.

  • Alando Tucker is looking good. He has a nice range to his game that would be perfect for Phx if they hadn't sold his minutes to rickety old Grant Hill.

  • Cory Brewer is gonna start from day 1 in Minny. He has amazing court presence that's generated by his energy, especially on the boards. He's not the defender that everybody talked about though. The energy is there, it's focus that's lacking. He has 0 stls and 1 blk in 2 games. I know, defense isn't all about numbers. But then this is just summer league so you'd think a strong defender would put up better numbers than that.


  • Nick young is not 6'6. No way in hell. But he is very exciting. Brings a ton of energy onto the court and is gonna fit perfectly in the Washington system.

  • DJ Strawberry is as advertised defensively, even though I still don't see him getting minutes in Phx.

  • Sean Williams is bad! Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning sucks dick with sharp teeth. Maybe they need to let him start smoking weed again or something.

  • Jared Dudley has a nice, composed, all-around game. But Charlotte has spent big bucks this offseason on Jrich, Gerald Wallace, Matt Carroll, plus they still have Walter Hermann, and last year's bust Adam Morrison vying for minutes at the swing spots. Morrison, by the way, looks like he's been going to the same dentist as Sean Williams, but he'll still get minutes just because of his draft status.


  • if the Celtics are relying on Rajon Rondo to run the point they are in trouble. Don't get me wrong, he's a dynamo and definitely a plus to have on the court, but when it comes down to decision making and having a guy who can help facilitate offense for your big 3, he's not the one.

  • if the Lakers sign Derek Fisher then Jordan Farmar will be traded. Brian Shaw again coached the Laker squad and started Javaris Crittenton, and the Lakers won again. In the 2 games Shaw has coached Critt has avg. 22 pts, 4rebs, with .600 fg%, and 0 turnovers. Farmar, through 3 total games has decent numbers of 13-4-4, but would be an unecessary third wheel with Fisher in the house. Oh, and for the Coby Karl fans, he's the only laker to hit double digit scoring in every game and is leading the team with 15 ppg. He's looking more and more like a Phil Jackson kind of guy everyday.

Oh and I'm trying to get pics of Toby Bailey's mustache, but David Stern must have outlawed it. I keep searching though!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer League Update

I currently have the Clipper/Rocket game on broadband internet, and the Knicks/China game on the tv. But I'm about to hit the movies so here's quick update before I go.

  • Tyrus Thomas has been working on a 15 ft J. He's killing the Pepsi-Orlando League. He'll be starting this year, expect a more explosive, more dynamic version of David Lee.
  • The Pepsi-Orlando League sucks. There are 6 teams. Chicago, Indiana, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando, New Jersey. Possible regular season starters like Kareem Rush and Raymond Felton played in the first games, but once coaches saw the overall talent those guys got yanked. So you end up with Marcus Williams and Tyrus Thomas looking all world. NBA should revoke this league's summer league status.
  • Yi Jianlian got absolutely shutdown by vegas brickhouse Renaldo Balkman. So far in 2 games Balkman has put up avgs. of 10 pts, 7 rebs, 3 stls, and 2 blks with 50% shooting againt Yi while allowing 0 made shots from Kevin Durant and Yi Jianlian. Wow.


  • Last year Chris Kaman signed his big money second contract, but then didn't have the season he wanted. So he signed up for the Clippers summer league team just because he wants to get better. Andrew Bynum is nowhere to be seen for the Laker squad.
  • Kurt Rambis is a terrible coach. The Lakers have Rambis and Brian Shaw alternating games as head coach of the summer squad. Shaw delivered a game 1 victory by making adjustments. Namely, he noticed Jordan Farmar struggling with decision making and having trouble staying in front of Milwaukee's Lynn Greer, so he put the ball in Javaris Crittenton's hands and also let Critt defend Greer. Tonite against Philly, Farmar played much better, but still could not stay in front of Louis Williams (which, to be fair, no one has done), and still made bad decisions with the ball. The stat line will tell you Farmar went for 18 pts, 11 asts, 2 to, and 7-10 shooting. Sounds good. And I agree, Farmar played really well. But having watched the game I saw how he struggled when pressure was on. for instance when he overdribbled and didn't allow the team to get off a possible game winning shot at the end of regulation. I also saw that Loius Williams took 22 foul shots because Farmar had no answers for him. I also saw that Rambis decided to play Crittenton 7 minutes each half, and not at all in OT. I cannot understand why you would not play your #1 draft pick major minutes in summer league. I also cannot understand why you would refuse to use your best on the ball defender when you're getting ripped by dribble penetration, or why you don't put your most dynamic player into a close game. Somehow I imagine Kobe doesn't like Rambis.
  • Coby Karl is an NBA player. He has a tremendous basketball IQ and an NBA jumpshot.
  • Balkman is killing China at the point. He has 4 steals at the half.


  • The Spurs had 3 young guys on last years roster who they are hoping to see something out of. Melvin Ely hasn't signed yet, so he's blowing his shot. Jackie Butler is working hard to show an all-around game. He might end up being something. James 'Flight' White is a premier disappointment. Basically all he can do is jump really high. Through 3 games so far he's been outplayed in the backcourt by CJ Watson, whoever the hell that is.
  • If some of the old guys on Dallas get hurt, they will learn they have a couple ball players in Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Jose Juan Barea, and Maurice Ager. I'm not really sure why the resigned Devean George or Stackhouse.
  • Philly's Jason Smith moves really well for a 7-footer. He reminds me of Brad Miller when Brad Miller was good.

NBA Summer League

I've been watching a shitload of summer league games so I'm gonna try and keep you guys updated on what's going on out there. Big props to the NBA for finally airing summer league games. The level of ball isn't always top notch, but it's better than watching the Dodgers and Padres.

The Vegas League started about 3 days ago, and they're carrying 20 NBA squads plus the Chinese National team. So that's where most of the action's been going on. The Orlando League is just starting up, and the Rocky Mountain Revue will get going within the next week, so there's gonna be a ton of ballin going on. With today's post I'll recap what's happened in the last 3 days. I'll use a three tier format that hopefully will allow me to cover everything you guys are looking for. There will be a section covering Big Names, which should be pretty obvious. Big Surprises, again, pretty obvious. And then Big If, where I'll cover the flashes of potential, and all the little things that aren't necessarily coming across in the boxscores. So let's get to it


  • Greg Oden: The #1 pick has pretty much been as advertised. There's been a lot of bitching and moaning about his fouls or whatever, but if you're actually watching the games two things really stand out. 1)The guy is big and strong. He reminds me of David Robinson in that he's just a specimen, big, strong, and moves fluidly. 2)He's got it. Period. There's take a minute for him to adjust and figure exactly how to take advantage of his skills, but the basics are there. Through two games he's averaging 9.5 pts, .600 fg%, 3.5 rebs, 3.0 blks in 24.5 mins.
  • Kevin Durant: Isn't even trying. Through two games he's got 2 boards and 0 asts, while shooting 9-36 (25%). On the court he's invisible except when he throws up random shots. When asked about his assists numbers he said something to the effect of the passes are good, these guys can't shoot. Bottomline, he's just not interested. And Seattle has absolutely zero veterans who the kid is gonna wanna listen to (Sczerbiak? Chris Wilcox?). I can envision PJ Carlisemo choking the kid out.
  • Yi Jianlian: Baller! Milwaukee needs to get this dude in camp. They fucked up once trading Nowitzki, and honestly, this guy moves a lot like Dirk does, the shooting stroke and all, plus he totes a heavier ballsack. Through 3 games he's putting up 17.3 pts, on .300 fg%, 5 rebs, 1.7 stls, and 1.o blk in 31.3 minutes. He's got a great motor and works really hard to get to the right spots on the floor. Needless to say, I'm impressed.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge: 2 games 21pts, 11 rebs, 3 blks, .589 fg%. Any questions?
  • Rudy Gay: Hasn't improved one bit. He's still the great athlete, and a streaky shooter, but he looks like exactly the same guy who was up and down all last year. Frankly, I'm disappointed. Just like the start of last NBA season, he's being outshined by Kyle Lowry.
  • Corey Brewer: In one game so far he put up 16 pts, 8 boards, and was really and aggressive floor leader for the Wolves. He actually put up the same numbers as Rudy Gay, but looked a lot more comfortable doing it.
  • Randy Foye: Foye's not a point guard, and using him to initiate the offense makes for brutal tv. One thing is for sure, he spent his summer working on ballhandling and simple trying get better as the floor general. But in his one game he looked very uncomfortable shooting 3-10 with a 3:2 assist/t.o. ratio. Ultimately he may need to be paired with a Delonte West type, a bigger guard who can defend SG's but who can also handle some of the ballhandling duties. That would free Foye up to be the gunner.


  • Golden State Warriors: The most exciting team in the summer league. They have three guys averaging 20+ pts including Marco Belinelli averaging 30. Plus they have Toby Bailey rocking the greatest porn 'stache this side of Adam Morrisson. The big surprise is that there are five (5!) guys on this squad who could get run on the big team. That's not including lottery pick Brendan Wright. Bellinelli is a 6-5 shooting guard who will be the best shooter on the 15 man roster. He's an aggresive shooter who is basically what everyone thought JJ Redick would be. Kelenna Azubuike is avg. 21. per game and showing that his rookie year was no fluke. His fluid athleticism and improved shooting stroke may mean the end to Mikael Pietrus as a Warrior. Then there's Pierre Pierce, a 6-4 PG who is avg. 21.5 and is the motor that keeps the engine running. He's a dynamic ballhandler who is shooting 53% from the floor and doesn't turn the ball over. He'll like be the insurance policy behind Baron and Monta. And finally you have a couple young bigs in Josh Powell and Patrick O'Bryant. The pair are combining to avg. 17 rebs and 3 blks a game, and they dunk the ball a lot, which is all Nellie really asks of his bigs.
  • Rodney Stuckey: The 15th pick out of Eastern Washington, Stuckey is a carbon copy of last year's rookie of the year Brandon Roy. Poise is the first word that comes to mind, the guy is a born leader on the floor. Gamewise, he has the midrange game to start immediately, plus he can handle like a point. He'll probably be the first guard off the Detroit bench backing up both Rip and Chauncey. Right now he's avg. 20.5 pts on 52% shooting for the 2-0 Pistons summer squad.
  • Marcus Banks: is pissed! In his lone game he put up 42 pts, 6 rebs, 3 ast, 3, stls, and shot 4-5 from deep. After spending a year on the Phoenix bench he says he's coming out just to let people know he can still play. Mike D'antoni are you listening?
  • Louis Williams: I swear I was like who is this kid when the game started. Now I know! Drafted out of high school two years ago, Philly tucked Williams away and just let him learn the game. Through 3 games his numbers are 24.7 pts, 5.7 rebs, 4.7 asts, 1.7 stls, .476 fg, .545 3pt. He put up a game high 32 against Detroit who has the best defensive backcourt in the summer league.


  • If Amir Johnson proves to be worth any of the hype surrounding him, then combining him with Maxiell, Mcdyess, and the rookie Stuckey is gonna give the Pistons a bench that can rival their starters. That could be enough to take the East back.

  • If Javaris Crittendon is as electric as he looked in his first game (he looked better than he did in college) then Kobe's finally got a back court running mate.

  • If Al Thornton can consistently play the Cory Maggette-like game he had against Denver (24pts, 8 rebs, 2 blks, 10-14 ft), then the Clips can move Maggette for a quality PG.

  • Redick scored 30 in his first game

  • Renaldo Balkman ran the point with Nate Robinson as the 2

  • Kareem Rush is back. He put up 20 for Indiana and is looking to win a starting spot come training camp.

  • Adam Morrison spent his first game getting locked up by Daequan Cook. The same guy who couldn't start last year at Ohio State because he couldn't play D.