NBA Summer League: Day 10
The last licks from Las Vegas Summer League.
After a very long 10 days in Las Vegas for most in attendance, the NBA Summer League has finally come to a conclusion. On the final day, the stands were empty, many of the top players took the day off, and the quality of basketball was a bit down. NBA personnel could be seen jettisoning immediately after their team concluded their play, if they already hadn’t skipped out. We made it ‘til the end, and here is the recap of the final day’s games.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Chicago Bulls
– James Johnson was the star of this game, capping off his up and down summer league performance with a great all around game. His 18-point, 7-rebound, 4-assist showing was evidence of the mismatch problems that he can cause… if he decides to play hard. Talent has never been a question throughout Johnson’s career. Effort has. With his size, he can play both forward spots, stretch the defense, and create buckets for others. The Bulls’ staff will go through some growing pains with Johnson, but if they can keep him motivated, they’ve got themselves a good one.
– The NBA’s Rookie of The Month for July, Jonny Flynn, had his worst game of the summer league. He just never really seemed like he got in a groove after starting the game off of the bench. Flynn did have some pretty penetrate and kick plays en route to his 7-assist outing. The bright spot for Flynn was having top dunk of the day: A windmill in transition to end the game.
– Third year forward Corey Brewer is looking nearly completely recovered, after suffering a knee injury last season. His jumper was on point from both mid-range and three, probably because of the countless hours that he spends honing it at the Target Center. The ex-Florida Gator put the clamps on people defensively and played his best game of the summer in our eyes.
– DeMarcus Nelson made his best case to show that he should be in the League next year with the effort that he put on display on both ends of the floor. Not a great shooter from deep, he knocked down a couple of
mid-range jumpers, converted in the paint, and had one monster of a dunk in traffic. Like normal, he played great D and played harder then just about everyone else out there.
– Deserving a blurb is Timberwolves 7-0 center Garrett Siler. After attending a music academy in high school and averaging less then 2 ppg, he landed at Augusta State in Georgia. Playing D-II ball didn’t get him much love. Siler has had his chance to shine now and is making the most of it. He’s a straight monster in the paint who looks to dunk everything, and usually he can because of his massive size at 300 pounds. Sure he’s not the most skilled guy and struggles defending the perimeter. You just can’t ignore 7-footers who play hard and offer that kind of potential. Siler would be a great guy to stash in Europe or the D-League for a couple of years and see how he develops. Hint hint?
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
– Hasheem Thabeet ended his dismal summer league with yet another poor outing. He had a forgettable first half with a below average second half performance. The Tanzanian native just simply looked like he didn’t care in the first half, allowing Ian Mahinmi to score 8 points on him in the game’s first few minutes. To his defense, the 2nd pick in the Draft was much more aggressive in the second half and put up the bulk of his numbers in that stanza. It just doesn’t sit right with me when your 7-3 shot blocker doesn’t even average 1 block a game over the summer league (he averaged 0.8) and had 2 games with 0 blocks.
– Thabeet’s foe, Ian Mahinmi, gave us his best outing of the summer league with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 6 blocks. For those of you who forgot, he was the Spurs’ first round pick way back in 2005 when he hadn’t even turned 19 years old. Since then, he has bounced around the French League (LNB) and NBA D-League. He showed improvement in France, but never really progressed quite the way that people hoped he would. Mahinmi showed off some really good toughness, a jump hook with both hands, and nice timing for blocked shots. He still looks like he needs some polish before he’s ready to contribute in the League, but luckily the Spurs have some guy named Duncan, so they may be willing to wait another year.
– While Thabeet was a bit of a stinker in summer league, the Grizzlies had strong performances from their two other draft picks, DeMarre Carroll and Sam Young. Carroll, not fitting the mold of any set position, simply finds a way to get it done from either forward spot. He knocked down a number of mid-range jumpers, played incredibly hard, and played killer D. His counterpart Young also played killer D, though he did it from a more traditional small forward spot. The dude has made great strides in his game to where he is now able to play the wing full time, but also bully smaller guys inside. The former Pitt Panther sold everyone with his ridiculously exaggerated shot fakes and looked like he should be able to crack the rotation in Memphis by the time the season is over.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
– The NBA Summer League MVP Blake Griffin ended his reign of terror with a X finale. He’s made it clear that he’s a cut above all of the rest of the rookies here in attendance. Against Phoenix, he had a couple of coast-to-coast drives, a couple of nasty dunks, and a couple of gorgeous assists. He also played harder then everyone else on the court, so pretty much the norm. It really doesn’t even look like there are any other contenders for Rookie of the Year at this point. Griffin does really have to improve upon using his left hand though, as seen by the number of times each game that he was blocked using his right hand in the wrong circumstances (which has happened all weekend). We’ve gotta critique the guy in some way, right?
– Second year center DeAndre Jordan showed how he could take over a game in brief spurts, and also how his immaturity can take him out of games both mentally and figuratively. No one questions the size, freak athleticism, or long-term potential that he has if he works. What people do question is whether or not he is willing to work, and how bad he wants it. Jordan had three Dwight Howard-esque dunks, then disappeared for a long stretch of the game, only to be eventually ejected by completely overacting to a situation with little-used Suns forward Kaspars Berzins. Just another example of how he gives you flashes of brilliance, followed by stretches of disappointment.
– Goran Dragic really brought his “A” game for the Suns. He ran the pick and roll to perfection (usually going left), played tough defense, and really got everyone on the squad involved. The Slovenian native even caught a Clippers defender sleeping and drove baseline, finishing with a nice two-handed bang in traffic. He can still be erratic at times, but he seems to be getting better and better with the more experience he gets playing significant minutes.
– First round pick Earl Clark solidified his spot as one of the top-five rooks here in Las Vegas. He gave defenders straight fits as a mismatch on the court. The Rahway, NJ native has improved his J to the point that you have to respect him out to the NBA three, but he’s also got a blazing first step that can get him by just about any power forward. Throw in his sick court vision for a player his size and his ability to defend multiple positions, and it’s easy to see why he was projected to play four positions coming out of high school. Clark is still a bit of a “jack of all trades, master of none,” but with today’s power forwards being able to step out and do it all, that’s actually a good thing.
– With bro Brook in the crowd, Robin Lopez had a nice game for the Suns. He’s an athletic big man who plays really hard, sets chilling screens, and can finish around the rim. Unlike his brother, he’s not a guy who you can give the rock to in the pivot and let him go to work, nor is he a guy who you can utilize in the pick and pop game. In fact, I’m not even sure if you can call him a guy you hit with drop-off passes because his hands are bad… real bad. Regardless, he’s a tough, athletic 7-footer in an era of 7-footers who like to do nothing stand around the perimeter and loft up threes, a la Jonathan Bender, Skita and Oleksiy Pecherov.
Rodger Bohn is a former director of prep scouting for DraftExpress.