Links: Presenting Your Summer League All-Stars

by July 15, 2008

by Lang Whitaker

• First, before we do anything else, wanted to mention this, obviously the link of the week. Cherries, huh?

• OK, now to the Vegas Summer League. It’s rare that a player comes along and earns himself a permanent job in the NBA based solely off his performance in a summer league. Summer ball is usually when guys are out for themselves, hoping and praying that they can score enough points to catch a GMs eye. That doesn’t always translate into playing time — last years’ Vegas Summer League MVP? Nate Robinson. As always there are a lot of interesting names on the rosters this summer…

Charlotte features both Guillermo Diaz and Jackie Butler, two very cool guys who probably have no real shot at making the BETcats’ already crowded roster. Guillermo was an amazing high school player (a leaper, really) who had some great years in the ACC playing for Miami, but he went pro early and never found a home in NBA. Jackie won a ring with the Spurs just two years ago, but more importantly he is 6-10, 250 pounds and was a baseball pitcher in high school.

The Cavs have a few interesting players, including Dru Joyce, a 6-0, 165 pound point guard, and Romeo Travis, a slender 6-7 forward, both out of Akron. You probably don’t remember either player for their college exploits, even though they had long D-1 careers, or for the year they each spent playing overseas. What you probably remember them for, however, is that in high school both were starters at St. Vincent-St. Mary Academy alongside a do-everything guy named LeBron James. Don’t say Danny Ferry isn’t trying hard to keep King James happy.

Cleveland is also featuring Lance Allred, the first legally deaf player in NBA history — I’m sure that’s fun for Mike Brown — and, most importantly, one of my favorite guys in the NBA over the last decade, Robert “Tractor” Traylor. Traylor, who was once traded straight-up for Dirk Nowitzki, was always a really fun guy to chat with in locker rooms and played a long time in the L. More recently, he did time in jail and played for two seasons in Puerto Rico. I really hope he’s gotten his act together.

The Grizzlies roster includes a David Simon, though I’m assuming it’s not this David Simon, unless this is research for some gritty new HBO drama we haven’t heard about yet. (Boy, wouldn’t that be a crappy show? This fall, HBO brings you Summer League! It’s not TV, it’s HBO!) Also with the Grizz is Steve Burtt Jr., who is probably as well known for playing at Iona as he is for playing at Rucker.

The Laker have assembled a star-studded line-up, using that “star-studded” relative to the rest of the Summer League, of course. Some names include Cedric Bozeman, Pat Calathes, Nik Caner-Medley, Coby Karl and James “Flight” White. But my favorite Laker has to be Lorenzo Mata-Real, who played at UCLA and just looks pretty damn awesome.

Meanwhile, guess who’s back for the Clippers? Koko Archibong! My man! And the favorite player of stoners all over the world. Does he wear number 420? He also has a heckuva fansite here.

The Rockets have a rather pedestrian roster, which includes their actual back-up PG Aaron Brooks. Houston GM Daryl Morey has, however, for our benefit included former Memphis center Joey Dorsey, who I imagine is doing some damage on the buffets out in Sin City.

Chris Mullin appears to have extended an open invite to anyone who can dribble for the Warriors summer league team, and 15 dudes showed up. All of them (except Belinelli) played some college ball, and it seems like half the ACC and SEC are repped. I get a feeling these guys thought, “Hey, it’s the Warriors! Anyone can score, I’ll get a lot of shots…I’ve got a great chance of impressing the staff and actually making the team!” But the reality is that Don Nelson is probably on a beach somewhere in Hawaii, and if asked about the chances of any of these guys to make the team he’d snap, “I crap bigger than most of these guys!”

Guess who is the leading scorer for the Nuggets’ summer league team through three games? Dahntay Jones, former Duke star and 2003 first round draft pick of the Boston Celtics, and now he’s in the D-League. But now he’s averaging 18.5 ppg and in Denver that’s the best way to catch George Karl’s eye. (Well, it’s either scoring a lot of points or carrying around a tasty-looking sandwich.)

The Dallas Mavericks have what is easily the best collection of first names on a summer league roster: Pops, Pape, JaJuan, Reinaldas, Yaroslav, Richie and Shan. That almost broke my spellcheck. Sounds like the world’s worst boy band. Dick Stockton might pass out trying to introduce these guys. Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all weekend.

Not only is Dee Brown playing for the Wizards, but Washington is also featuring Nick Young, who’s coming off a promising rookie season and has provided my favorite quote of the summer thus far: “I want to be a better defender. That and learn the plays better.”

Hey, who’s that guy on the Raptors named Bosh? Not surprisingly, it ain’t Chris — it’s Joel Bosh, Chris’s less-good brother who has logged 4 minutes and 3 fouls thus far. Also, according to their roster, the Raps have found John Lucas’ brother, who is also named John Lucas, although this John Lucas is 6-11 and weighs just 165 pounds. Must be in Canadian pounds or something. That Bryan Colangelo is relentless!

The Kings have put together a team that could compete for an NCAA title…about three years ago: Quincy Douby, Shelden Williams, Patrick Ewing Jr., Spencer Hawes, Matt Walsh, Sean Singletary, Lawrence Roberts. Reggie Theus uses Anthony Anderson and that blond girl off the bench.

Names that are also worth noting: Jared Jordan and Taquan Dean (Suns), fake blogger Junior Harrington (Sixers), Von Wafer (Knicks), Ndudi Ebi and former Knicks guard Frank Williams (Hornets), Darius Washington (Bucks)