Note on coverage: With so many players to cover and little time between games to do so, well be focusing on the main prospects here and recap the rest at the end of the Summer League in a separate article. Note on the Summer League: Major props go out to the Orlando Magic for putting together a wonderfully organized event. Every minute detail has been taken care of to the fullest extent and the result is a superb facility with high-level basketball and a consistent game flow from the minute things started to the very end.Game Three Final: Charlotte 88- Chicago 87 Bobcats Adam Morrison
After having watched 8 of the top 9 picks in this years draft and almost all of the first rounders, we can say with the utmost confidence that Adam Morrison
put in the most impressive performance in a half of any of the rookies weve seen thus far this summer.
Morrison came out as aggressive as weve seen him in the years weve scouted him. He utilized screens perfectly in isolation situations to take advantage of his terrific ball-handling skills and either get to the basket or pull-up off the dribble for one of his trademark high-arcing shots. If guarded too closely, Morrison would just take his man off the dribble and get into the paint, slashing aggressively and finishing with a beautiful one-handed floater or hook shot that both fell for him repeatedly. Since the entire frontcourt would rotate and try to stop him, Morrison was intelligent enough to create and absorb contact to get to the free throw line if his shot wouldnt fall. After seeing the way he started off the game (8/11 from the field), the Bulls decided to trap, double and sometimes even triple team him to keep the ball out of his hands. It really didnt help them since he was so hot at the time, coming off screens and knocking down NBA 3-pointers and 20 footers (college 3s) both on the catch and shoot as well as off a single dribble. His off the ball movement at this point was absolutely exquisite, and he actually put in a very solid effort both defensively. He capped off the half with a deep jumper at the buzzer, finishing with 25 points in 16 minutes on 8/11 shooting.
In the 2nd half, Morrison started off much slower. He didnt play as many minutes (only 13) and was much less aggressive looking for his own shot when he was in, as Charlottes offense seemed geared more to getting other players looks. Once he did decide to get going, he was being defended by a phenomenal defender in Thabo Sefolosha
who did a great job getting in his face and denying him the type of shots he is used to getting. Speaking to Morrison after the game, he had nothing but high praise for his efforts, calling him an incredible defender, and just a great all-around player.
Morrison got the last laugh at the end of the game, though, coming off a screen with a few seconds left on the clock and his team down by a point. He slashed towards the hoop and went to his trademark 14 foot one-handed floater, which went in and out and looked like it was about to fall right back into the net before it was touched by one of Chicagos big men. The refs rightfully counted the basket and Morrison continued his tradition of clutch play by winning the game for his team. BullsTyrus ThomasTyrus Thomas
gave the Bulls a little hint of what he can bring to them with the way he played today. He contributed in many different facets of the game, showing showed plenty of potential as a mismatch threat, always playing incredibly hard and dropping some extremely intriguing sparks of the player he will develop into.
The first half brought us a glimpse of his mid-range jumper and all-around effort and activity level on both ends of the floor. His athleticism rarely goes unused, whether its soaring to the clouds for an emphatic offensive or defensive rebound, utilizing a lightning quick spin-move and then exploding off the ground instantaneously for a dunk attempt (which he unfortunately missed), or climbing the ladder to send back a shot-attempt. Its hard to pin-point any one part of his game that is polished enough to work consistently in the NBA, but his defense might be the closest. Thomas absolutely shut down Sean May
when he was defending him, getting in his face and challenging him, intimidating with his length and moving his feet incredibly quickly to stay in front of him when he tried to put the ball on the floor. His intensity throughout the entire game might have been the most impressive thing we saw today.
As the game progressed, Thomas confidence in his mid-range jumper increased with every shot that fell for him. He hit a short 14 footer and then stepped outside a bit more and knocked down a very effortless looking 20 footer from a difficult angle and with a man in his face. He hit a few jumpers that werent just in static fashion, also pulling up off the dribble and using the glass on two separate occasions.
All in all, this was an exciting way to take in Thomas potential Aaron Miles
Miles has shown plenty of improvement over the past year, particularly in his offensive game. Always an imposing defender and consummate floor general, Miles has been incredibly aggressive in taking the ball to the basket and getting to the free throw line. Miles now utilizes a wider arsenal of ball-handling and hesitation moves, being more motivated to get into the paint and find his own shot. It appears that he realizes that this is what it will take to make the NBA, and even if he gets his shot blocked on occasion, hes helping himself a lot by doing so. Thabo Sefolosha
Sefolosha had an impressive outing today, and even would have came away credited with the game-winning had his teammate not touched the offensive rebound that came off the rim but was still in the cylinder after an Adam Morrison
He was extremely active throughout the game, doing plenty of ball-handling for the Bulls, even running the point, and looking pretty smooth doing so. He was constantly creating shots for others and might have even been a little too unselfish looking for his teammates, passing up shots that weve seen him hit today and especially in the past. Sefolosha made a living in the paint today, utilizing his outstanding athleticism and ball-handling skills to break his man down and penetrate and then either finish the play himself with a layup or kick the ball out to teammates that couldnt knock down their shots. Defensively he was extremely aggressive, particularly in the 2nd half when he was assigned to defend Adam Morrison
. Morrison scored 25 points in the first half, mostly with Eddie Basden
on him, but only 4 in the 2nd. Sefolosha harassed him with his freakish wingspan and discouraged him from trying to get around him and create his own shot.
Game Two Final: Orlando 80- Indiana 79 PacersDanny GrangerDanny Granger
was all over the floor today, contributing to the Pacers in every facet of the game. Offensively, he scored most of his points on jumpers from mid-range and through posting up and using his size and length to score over his opponents. He uses his smarts more than anything, moving off the ball intelligently and finding ways to make his impact felt. Granger isnt much of a shot-creator in isolation situations, but when given an opportunity to surprise his opponent and take the ball to the basket, he does very well. Despite his status as the biggest star on the floor and the focal point of Indianas offense, Granger didnt force the issue and was more than willing to give the ball up and find the open. Defensively, he was very active and did a great job anticipating what his man will do next. He came up with a number of blocks and steals and defended guards as well as big men like Killingsworth. He would hit the glass very hard and then ignite the break all by himself. Grangers biggest weakness besides the fact that he isnt a freakish athlete is his ball-handling skills and overall shot-creating ability. If he can shore up this part of his game and also become a more consistent 3-point shooter, he could become more than the consummate and fantastic role-player that he is right now. James WhiteJames White
had a nice outing in limited minutes, showing flashes of potential in different parts of his game and giving the Pacers plenty to get excited about in regards to his potential as an NBA player. White looked good shooting the ball both from mid-range and the NBA 3-point line, although he did not attempt that many shots. Offensively he was asked to play the point guard position, and even though he struggled to really organize the half-court offense, he showed nice ball-handling skills and made a couple of nice passes. MagicTravis Diener
Far and away the best player on the court today, Diener is the type of player you live to see in a summer league setting. Even though he didnt shoot the ball all that well in the first half, he dominated the game the way only a true floor general can. Diener got to the basket time after time despite his below average first step, using an array of fakes and hesitation moves to throw off his defender and keep him on his heels the entire game. Most of the time he would find the open man at the rim, whether its a big man who presented himself for a layup or a shooter spotting up on the wing. After his confidence in his shot returned in the 2nd half, he also showed a nice pull-up game off the dribble, because wasnt a surprise since its obvious that great shooters like him cant be kept down an entire game. Diener ran Orlandos offense extremely well, particularly the pick and roll plays that the Magic love to run. Defensively Diener struggled staying in front of Indianas quicker guards, but all in all it was hard not to come away extremely impressed by the way he played today. James Augustine
When given an opportunity to play, Augustine looked impressive, particularly in the way he hit the glass. He came up with 9 rebounds in 16 minutes in the first half, 5 of them on the offensive glass. He was incredibly active when he was on the floor and showed great toughness and plenty of length and mobility to get his hands on plenty of loose balls. Offensively, he stepped outside and knocked down one mid-range jumper, got an easy layup at the hoop that Diener created and had another 2 on a putback dunk. Marcin Gortat
Gorat did a great job being in the right spot at the right time today, presenting himself to Diener on a few occasions around the basket, going after rebounds on both ends really strong and generally doing a good job playing his role minimizing mistakes. He is very athletic, but fairly raw, and still lacks some strength to play the center position in the NBA that he looks best suited for.
Game One Final: Miami 91 New Jersey 85 HeatEarl Barron
Barron was hands down the best player on the floor today for either team. Hes improved his body since we last saw him before training camp in October. He was extremely aggressive today and did a nice job showing off his new-found (but very basic) post moves and jump-hook. Barron was active in hitting the glass and scored quite a few points off his work there. He scored points both off the pick and pop thanks to his very effective (but not very pretty) 18 foot jumper as well as by putting the ball on the floor and going to the basket. When getting the ball in the post, Barron showed simple, but effective footwork and a nice hook shot that hes apparently picked up over the past year. Barron was a nice find for the Heat, but its hard to see him ever becoming more than a marginal role-playing center in the NBA due to his very average athleticism. He can score big numbers in settings like these, but its tough to see most of these things translating that well to the NBA. Dorell Wright
This was a solid performance from Wright, a player with a lot of talent but still a lot of things he needs to work on as well. He scored most of his points from pull-up jumpers and from using his athleticism to blow by his defender on the perimeter. His chemistry with Earl Barron
seems to be very good and the two connected regularly between them off pick and roll plays the Heat ran. Wright is clearly an excellent athlete, but he still doesnt quite know how to take advantage of it. His shot-creating skills arent very advanced in terms of using ball-fakes and hesitation moves on the perimeter, as he is able to get by his man just by blowing by him with his first step, but not by outsmarting him. Once he gets in the paint, he lacks some body control and strength to finish amongst traffic. Wright is talented and definitely seems to be making progress in the right direction, but after going into his 3rd year in the NBA still isnt ready to be an important rotation player. NetsJosh Boone
Boone had a very solid showing doing many of the things hell be asked to next year off the bench for the Nets. He was very effective finishing down low off the shots that were created for him by Marcus Williams
and others, and did a good job taking the ball strong at the basket and getting to the free throw line. Boone did the dirty work for his team, hitting the offensive glass and cleaning up the garbage points that were left for him around the rim. He scored 15 points in the first half, but slowed down a bit in the 2nd. His chemistry with Marcus Williams
is always evident, and he is profiting from it immensely in the form of plenty of easy points. Once stepping outside of the paint he was quite a bit less effective, missing free throws and even airballing the only mid-range jumper he took. Defensively Boone was aggressive and used his body to try and slow down Earl Barron
, with little success. He did a nice job working the boards on both ends of the floor. Marcus Williams
Today was mostly a mixed bag for Marcus Williams
, showing some flashes of brilliance that few players his age are capable of executing, and also making some bone-headed moves that showed his inexperience and lack of chemistry with his teammates. Running the offense, Williams was at times spectacular. He did a masterful job running the pick and roll and regularly threaded brilliant bounce passes into cutters slashing into the paint. His vision off the dribble is second to none at a setting like this, but the confidence he received from some of his early passes in the 2nd quarter may have led him to force a little too much in terms of the flashiness he was trying to show. On a few occasions he just was not on the same page as his teammates and threw cunning passes into spots that werent even close to where his teammates where at. He is certainly a step or two ahead of most of the players here, and with how many people are coming in and out its tough for them to keep up. His mid-range shot was off and on, but he showed solid ability to pull up off the dribble and knock down a lefty jump-shot, as well as a nice little floater in the lane. Defensively, Williams has a ways to go.