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Las Vegas Summer League Day Seven

Las Vegas Summer League Day Seven
Jul 19, 2008, 01:12 pm
Game Two: New Orleans Hornets 80, Los Angeles Clippers 76
Matt Kamalsky

New Orleans

Hilton Armstrong: 25 Points, 10-17 FG, 5-8 FT, 8 Rebounds, 1 Block, 2 Turnovers

The former UCONN power forward came through with a good performance today, taking advantage of the inferior defenders he was matched up with. Armstrong utilized his strength and experience to get off a number of post moves against Clippers’ rookie DeAndre Jordan and his quickness to get to the rim against Nick Fazekas. Armstrong is the total package athletically, but his skill set is now starting to come together nicely. He possesses good touch from the midrange, and has a number of spin moves and fakes that he uses, primarily operating over his right shoulder. The Clippers had no answer for Armstrong today, and he had his way in the paint. Armstrong still needs to work on his finishing ability and continue working on his left hand, as well as maintaining a consistent focus level throughout the game, but he’s come a long way since his days in college. Defensively, Armstrong showed nice explosiveness, blocking one of Jordan’s dunk attempts, and doing a good job holding position. Though he’s a dominant player on the Summer League level, Armstrong still has a lot of work to do to become a consistent threat in the NBA.


-Courtney Sims disappeared in the first half, but showed well in the second. He has average hands, but is a big body who can finish athletically when his teammates give him easy passes around the rim. The center doesn’t block shots well for a player his size, and lacks timing and anticipation.

-Bobby Brown had yet another great game, showing good point guard skills running the pick and roll. He had a number of extremely impressive finishes around the rim, and showed excellent poise as the go-to guy in New Orleans’ offense. Defensively he looks much improved after spending last season in Europe, and he also seems to be doing a better job cutting down on turnovers as well. He’s done a lot of good for himself this week showcasing both his passing and scoring ability, and clearly still has a great deal of room left to improve. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if he ended up getting a guaranteed NBA contract out of his summer league performance, as he appears to be one of the top point guards to be found in Vegas.


Los Angeles

Marcus Williams: 24 Points, 8-16 FG, 8-9 FT, 10 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Steals, 2 Turnovers

The young small forward has his second straight big game, doing a tremendous job taking advantage of the opportunities that he was presented with offensively. His shot selection has been solid in both of his big games, and while his form is better than it used to be, it is still surprising to see him shooting as well as he is from the field considering his previous struggles. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than his good shooting has been the amount of times was able to get to the line today despite not having great ball handling ability or a great first step. The assertiveness he’s showed around the rim has been refreshing, and he used his length and athleticism to earn a handful of putbacks in traffic today in addition to his free throws. Obviously, William’s shooting has made the game a lot easier for him overall, and it will be interesting to see how he responds in upcoming contests. He’s a player that hasn’t shown many glimpses of potential since leaving Arizona, but if he continues to play like this he’ll be in exponentially better position to make a team than he was as recently as four days ago. Despite his explosion in production, he’s going to have to prove that these performances aren’t a fluke to make up for just how low his stock was coming into this event.


Nick Fazekas: 16 Points, 8-13 FG, 6 Rebounds, 2 Steals, 1 Block, 2 Turnovers

The plodding big man had his first good showing of the Summer League today, showing the ability to score from inside. Fazekas was viewed as something of a perimeter player coming out, but we haven’t gotten a chance to see much outside shooting from him at all recently. While that may be due to his desire to get looks closer to the rim, it can probably be attributed to the team’s point guards trying to turn the corner on every pick and roll and not stretching out the defense to open up space for a pick and pop. Though LA’s guards’ aggressiveness on the pick and roll haven’t afforded Fazekas any perimeter touches, it’s opened up things for him on the inside. Fazekas always does a good job working off the ball when his teammates draw his defender. He lacks the quickness to get many touches off of cuts, but is smart enough to know make himself a big target when he’s open at the rim. His touch makes him a very capable finisher, and he shows a good running hook going right despite not being able to get a step on his defender. Defensively, Fazekas made a couple of plays today due to his length, but he’s not athletic or strong enough to be a consistent factor. His inability to hedge the pick and roll is also a concern, especially in this setting. While this was a good offensive performance for the young power forward, it did nothing but reaffirm what we already knew about him.


-Mike Taylor has forced shots all week and seems like a candidate for a midseason call-up once he gets his act together in the D-League.

-DeAndre Jordan rebounded the ball well today, and started giving quite a bit of effort defensively. He’s not a good shot-blocker for a player his size, but his activity level today helped him make an impact. Offensively he finished a couple of dunks, but needs to learn to use fakes to appropriately make space for himself at the rim.

Game Three: Phoenix Suns 98, San Antonio Spurs 74
Matt Kamalsky

Phoenix

Robin Lopez: 14 Points, 6-12 FG, 2-3 FT, 9 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Blocks

The former Stanford Cardinal had a nice start to the game today, notching two blocks on successive possessions, and finishing a nice left handed hook shot and a tip dunk on the other end. Lopez has shown good touch with both hands this week, and as he gains consistency and experience, could develop some nice go-to-moves with either hand. That’s contingent on the development of his footwork, which only looked decent in the games he’s player this week. He’s not skilled enough to be a feature scorer, but he has the potential to be a starting caliber player. His midrange game is still a work in progress, and he doesn’t have a fluid release. Lopez had a nice game defensively, but still needs to work on his anticipation and awareness.


D.J. Strawberry: 12 Points, 3-10 FG, 1-1 3FG, 5-8 FT, 4 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Steals, 1 Turnover

The former Maryland guard has come a long way from the Summer League last year. Today didn’t present much of a challenge for Strawberry with George Hill sitting on the contest in anticipation of the Rocky Mountain Revue. The second-year point man was able to get wherever he wants on the floor whenever he wanted to be there. Few players in Las Vegas share his combination of size, quickness, and strength. Strawberry did a great job running the show today, pushing the break whenever possible and generally putting pressure on the defense to slow him down. He hit a catch and shoot three-pointer today, something you don’t see out of him often, but did most of his damage at the rim. He was able to turn the corner consistently, and doesn’t shy away from contact when he gets to the rim. Defensively, Strawberry gave his usual great effort, getting a handful of deflections leading to transition opportunities. While he may have been the later pick, Strawberry may have jumped ahead of Alando Tucker as a prospect, and it will be interesting to see how he develops in the coming year.


-Alando Tucker had a productive game, but considering that Spurs didn’t play most of their starters and that most of his baskets were lay ups, this wasn’t as big of a breakout game as it looks on paper.

San Antonio

James Gist: 13 Points, 5-6 FG, 1-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 3 Rebounds, 1 Steal

The lanky forward had a good game in limited minutes. He once again showed a nice shooting stroke, but is going to need to work on his consistency wherever he lands this coming season. He’s the type of shooter who will show a great release on one attempt, and then shoot with a different one from the same spot a minute later. He showed a good turnaround jumper today, and that’s just another tool he needs to polish. Gist doesn’t offer much in the way of ball handling, but he did a good job using his body to shield the ball when he did manage to find his way to the rim. Gist does a good job rebounding the ball, but had a hard time pulling them down today. He’ll get overshadowed on the glass by stronger players, but can be effective on both ends when he can swoop in from the outside and use his leaping ability to his advantage. Gist is a nice prospect right now, and his willingness to play overseas could allow him to become a nice asset for the Spurs down the line. There is some talk now that he may end up in training camp, though.


Game Six: Denver Nuggets 67, Milwaukee Bucks 79
Matt Kamalsky

Denver

-Elton Brown played well today in limited minutes giving the Nuggets their only real inside presence. On the perimeter, few players shot well, so his lack of playing time is baffling.

Milwaukee

Ramon Sessions: 13 Points, 5-13 FG, 3-3 FT, 8 Rebounds, 9 Assists, 1 Block

Sessions once again looked great running the show for Milwaukee. His teammates are finally catching up to the speed that he plays at, and it shows in the box score. The young point man displayed great court vision today, and very consistent range on his jumper. He still needs to work on hitting the NBA three, but he proved capable of that during the regular season. If he can make that a regular part of his game, he would be thoroughly dominant on this level. Unlike last game, Sessions didn’t make a ton of trips to the line, finishing most of his drives to the rim with lay ups. Denver’s defense didn’t have an answer for him, and he did a great job constantly pushing the tempo by tracking down numerous long rebounds. The former Nevada player clearly turned a corner in his development near the end of the season, and this is the second time in recent memory that the Bucks have had a second-round point guard develop into a very good NBA player.


Joe Alexander: 10 Points, 5-10 FG, 7 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 3 Blocks, 2 Turnovers

This wasn’t a glamorous game for Alexander, as it took him quite a while to get going. This has really been an up and down week for the young forward, but he’s shown some nice tool. Alexander showed great court vision today once again, doing a great job setting up his teammates. On one memorable occasion he caught a full court outlet pass only to tip it behind him to a cutting teammate. While his passing has been great, his shooting has been another story. He’s had no problem getting his shot off, but just hasn’t hit anything from the field. Alexander got going late in the contest, doing almost all his scoring in the final period, but for a player with such a great looking game, he still has a lot to learn. It will take the young forward a year, if not longer to begin to polish his raw tools in Milwaukee.


- Roderick Wilmont had a nice game today, but this was his only good performance offensively. He’s a nice player on the Summer League level, but has little chance of catching on with a team.

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