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.