Vegas Summer League: Day One

Vegas Summer League: Day One
Jul 06, 2006, 05:41 pm

1. This is a running log as we see it, written mostly at the end of the first half, during the break between the third and fourth quarter, and at the end of games. Therefore things in the beginning might conflict a bit with what you see towards the end, but we will try to explain why. Since we are putting this up live as it happens (rather than make you wait a whole week to recap everything), you will have to excuse spelling and grammar errors.

2. We do not put much emphasis, if any, on stats. For one, they are inconsistent, and two, its how players get the stats they did that concerns us more.

Final: Toronto 93- Washington 85


Eric Weiss

Andray Blatche

Blatche is still the position-defying athletic marvel that got our attention last year. But, Blatche still seems to be inconsistent with his decision making, often diving head first into traffic without a definitive game plan. Still, 19 year old 6’11” players with handles are a rare commodity and Blatche didn’t shy away from his showdown with top pick Andrea Bargnani. Blatche handled coast-to-coast on a few possessions and had a couple of rebounds in traffic to go along with his one emphatic block.

Blatche continued to slip away during the 2nd half, forcing drives and turning the ball over. There was nothing positive of note to report other than the same tantalizing raw package.

Peter John Ramos

Ramos had a quality 1st half of play, scoring on a number of post plays including one particularly nice drop-step for the soft reverse lay-up. Ramos doesn’t show a great aptitude for anticipation plays or rebounding out of his area, but his height and touch are clearly a cut above the other mammoth players in the summer league, such as Podzolkine and Ha.

Oleksiy Pecherov

Pecherov is a player caught playing a style of ball that just isn’t conducive to summer league success. Pecherov has been the consummate teammate, passing up a number of opportunities to shoot for the benefit of passing to others. However, without a high degree of defensive intensity or rebounding prowess, this approach has left Pecherov with little impact thus far.

Pecherov came alive offensively in the 4th quarter, hitting a series of different shots from the field including a 15 foot jumper, a running hang-shot in the lane, and an emphatic slam over Bargnani after receiving one on the previous play. Pecherov also fought a bit more on the boards, grabbing several over the rebound-phobic Bargnani on a number of occasions. Still hasn’t shown any post game, failing to make a decisively strong move on any of his small portion of attempts in the paint. Pecherov has very strong legs, despite his slight upper-body, so he may be able to defend effectively in the future if he is so inclined.


Jonathan Givony

Andrea Bargnani

Bargnani didn’t waste any time showing us why he was drafted with the 1st overall pick. In the first three minutes of the game he hit one mid-range jumper, one NBA three and two free throws. Bargnani drew quite a few fouls in the first half with his excellent first step and ball-handling skills, so when his defender sagged off him a bit he showed absolutely no hesitation getting off a lightning quick jumper even when off-balance. On one occasion he wowed the crowd with a pretty crossover before pulling up and draining a mid-range jumper off the dribble. Bargnani struggled a bit defensively and on the glass, but all in all he left a very nice impression with what he showed in the first half. He finished with around 14-16 points. If you want to nitpick you might say he settled for the 3-ball a bit too much, but its not like there is much else available for a player his size in a setting like this.

Bargnani’s little show ended with the first half it appears. He actually tried to post up a bit and move without the ball, but his teammates (Humphries and Graham mostly) are doing their best to pretend like they just can’t see him, looking for their own offense instead. Bargnani is still passing the ball nicely and not forcing the issue.

Bargnani came back in the 4th quarter and looked a little bit more lively. He got on the board early after a series of unselfish passes between the Raptor starters that saw him end up with the ball in a tough spot under the rim in traffic. Bargnani went up and finished without hesitation using a surprising underhanded flip that caught the defense entirely by surprise. A minute later he continued his good momentum by hitting the offensive glass and coming up with a nice putback dunk. A number of traveling calls (one questionable, two not) ruined his mojo a bit and prevented us from seeing him in the 1 on 1 iso situations the coaching staff set up for him. With 3+ minutes to go, Bargnani went to the bench despite the fact that the game was extremely close at that point. Once his team fell down by 3 (with 2 minutes to go), the coaches decided its time to bring him back. The Raptors ended up pulling it out, but not really because of anything the pretty tired Bargnani did.

Everyone else

There really isn’t much else to say here. The refs aren’t letting them play more than one possession without a foul being called, and the game really lacks any type of rhythm or flow. Andre Barrett did a nice job playing pressure defense, running the offense and moving the ball around. Kris Humphries took and for the most part made the jumpers that were created for him. Joey Graham did a nice job finishing in transition and knocking down his mid-range jumper, and PJ Tucker was pretty non-descript besides one very nice alleyoop finish off a lob from Barrett. Justin Gray tried to be a true point guard for a minute or two when he came in, but quickly resorted back to his old ways and started jacking up shots.

Joey Graham really started taking over in the 3rd quarter, creating his own shot (somewhat awkwardly) quite a bit and hitting a number of mid-range jumpers both from static positions as well as off the dribble. He got into the lane as well and registered the best “almost” dunk of the day on a running attempt from just outside the paint, on which he got fouled. With the Raptors pulling away late in the 3rd quarter, it was time to get some of the players without contracts on the roster playing tie. After 8+ straight hours of non-stop subpar basketball, I can’t really say it was all that enjoyable. The starters came back in the 4th quarter but the Wizards still managed to cut the lead from 12-15 to the point that they were actually in front. Will Avery decided its time to call his own number multiple times down the stretch with very little success, so there wasn’t too much else to see here. PJ Tucker did some damage around the basket by moving off the ball and hitting the offensive glass, but for the most part wasn’t a huge factor coming off the bench.

Sacramento 90- Minnesota 83

In case you were wondering, Ron Artest is nowhere to be found.


Eric Weiss

Greg Brunner

Solid board work by Brunner may have been one of the lone highlights for Minnesota in the first half. Brunner didn’t have the explosive lift to get over the top of Justin Williams, but considering the number of blocks Williams had there is no shame in it.

Brunner had an extremely tough go of it trying to finish against the long and athletic frontcourt of Sacramento. Late in the game, Brunner hit a flawless 3-pointer off a nice feed from Randy Foye. A display of his solid face-up game would be of great benefit for Brunner, who cannot finish in heavy traffic against longer, faster opponents.

Bracey Wright

Wright played on ball during the time that Foye was off the court and didn’t do much to show he deserves to be the primary decision maker. Wright over handled the ball in the half-court set and didn’t create much other than shot opportunities for himself, which he missed frequently.

Wright showed little shame in the 2nd half of play. While he finished a couple of high difficulty shots, the sheer volume of attempts in the face of low-percentage shooting was a baffling thing to see. Wright has the ability to get himself free for shots off the dribble, but doesn’t show much of an understanding of when to do what. Situational understanding and execution are critical elements not evident in Wright’s game today.

Randy Foye

Foye had a quiet but effective first half of play. He handled the ball under heavy pressure on a number of occasions and had little trouble getting to where he wanted to go. Not many finishes for Foye in the half as he didn’t look to take over the game at all. Foye missed a few finishes in traffic and didn’t take enough jumpers to warrant comment. Foye’s highlight series came early in the half when he hit a right-side jumper from behind the arc and followed it up with a devastating hesitation cross that he finished deftly over the Sacramento help defense.

Foye really came alive in the 4th quarter. After being more of a facilitator to start the game, Foye showed off his “figure-eight” crossover floater on a number of occasions and really started to assert himself off the dribble, looking to get points for himself. Foye showed a very nice handle, capable of controlling with the quality to pull off half-spins away from the defense off of penetration. Foye was able to stop his momentum at full speed going backside and easily elevated, corrected his form, and finished with soft touch and smooth delivery.

Jeremy Kelly

An intense performance on both ends of the court is worthy of mention for the unheralded Kelley. Kelley showed much improved technique and confidence in his perimeter shooting early in the game and providing heavy ball pressure on the Sacramento point guards. Kelley communicated well with officials to gauge what he could and could not get away with in terms of body contact, a key veteran tactic for getting calls.


Jonathan Givony

Kevin Martin

One of the fastest rising stars at this summer league, Martin did everything you’d expect him to do in a setting like this and then some. His ridiculous athleticism was always on full display, whether it was in the way he ran the floor and finished in transition, creating his own shot to rocket off the ground from mid-range, sticking right in his man’s grill with his excellent lateral quickness, or getting into the paint with a terrific first step and then a lightning quick spin-move to find himself right at the rim where he can just elevate with ease and finish with a smooth layup. Martin also knocked down the jumpers he had from outside and did a nice job feeding his teammates with creative passes, which they rarely finished. He did it all without forcing the issue one bit.

Justin Williams

After Martin, the second best player on the floor for the Kings was almost undoubtedly Justin Williams. On a team that is absolutely stacked with undrafted free agent big men (Taj Gray, Louis Amundson, Christian Maraker, etc), Williams separated himself from the pack right off the bat with the energy he brought to the floor. What’s interesting from scouting Williams is that his shot-blocking skills have translated over to every setting we’ve seen him in, whether it was college, Portsmouth, the Orlando pre-draft camp, and now summer league. The way he does it leaves a lot of room for optimism regarding his ability to continue to intimidate to a certain extent in the NBA as well. Besides his shot-blocking skills, Williams also did a great job hitting the glass on both ends of the floor. His combination of anticipation skills and terrific athleticism made him quicker to every ball then any of the opposing big men, and Williams took advantage to blitz the paint and then go right back up strong for the putback. The way he goes after rebounds makes you think that this is another skill that could potentially translate to the league very well.

Williams was extremely solid again in the 2nd half. Pay no attention to whoever is “recording” stats….Williams had at least 6-7 blocks today, but was credited with much less. With every minute that passed by and every rebound he pulled down out of his area, we wondered more and more how in the world he did not get drafted.

Francisco Garcia

A major disappointment considering the fact that he was a first round draft pick last year, is already 24 years old and is playing in his second summer league. Garcia really didn’t do a whole lot except miss a wide open dunk (after foolishly and pointlessly double pumping), turn the ball over, hand-check his opponent and complain a fair amount.

Louis Amundson

Amundson brought his typical energy and terrific athleticism, which translated into quite a few rebounds and opportunities around the basket. Playing in the town that he spent five years of college in, the crowd is going nuts cheering him on after every good move he makes.

Amundson came out in the 2nd half and was much more productive in the scoring department. He put on a clinic for offensive rebounds and finished strong amongst the trees on a number of occasions. On one occasion he put the ball on the floor and went to the basket, missing his layup attempt but being so much quicker than anyone else that he was able to go back up and tip it home before anyone else was even able to react. On top of that he won some points by knocking down a baseline jumper off the glass, as well as by coming up with some great blocks in transition. The crowd was loving every second of it. Amundson played a lot like he did in Orlando at the pre-draft camp, which was surprisingly not good enough to even earn a spot in the late 2nd round. Today most definitely helped his stock.

Quincy Douby

Douby started off pretty slow in the first half, looking tentative and forcing the issue a bit with his penetrations. In the 2nd half he settled down and let the game come to him, moving off the ball quite well and knocking down threes from NBA range. This opened up things for his slashing game, which he is able to utilize despite his average athleticism due to his wide array of hesitation moves.

Final Score: Denver 113- Dallas 83

Disclaimer: This game was so bad it was hard to watch.


Eric Weiss

Josh Powell

After having a stellar summer league performance last year, the expectations for a strong follow-up were high. Unfortunately, there was virtually no cohesion on the Mavericks team in the 1st half of play and it hurt Powell’s performance. Powell is a player that feeds off of the energy and tempo of the game, which makes him a consummate Mavs player. But, with a whopping 30 points at the half and innumerable turnovers it was difficult to generate much of a rhythm.

Pavel Podkolzine

Pavel is in significantly better shape than last season, but that hasn’t translated into any added agility or court awareness, which inevitably led to a lack of production.

Maurice Ager

Ager started off somewhat decently, hitting his first 3-point shot and getting to the line on a drive. But, Ager has some serious work to do on his ball-handling, which was further underscored by his team’s lack of communication and execution. Ager will have to play off of others early in his career and certainly in this summer league, so the relatively weak squad isn’t helping his production potential much. Ager resorted to forcing shots after things really broke down.


Jonathan Givony

John Gilchrist

Although he might not have had the best numbers, no one showed more talent and NBA potential than John Gilchrist in this game. He looked extremely hungry and motivated from the second he stepped out on the floor, and from first glance appears to have gained a little bit of much needed focus and maturity from his year overseas playing in Israel.

Gilchrist did a great job putting the ball on the floor and forcing Dallas’ defense to rotate, but rather than look for his shot excessively (which he could have since the opportunities were certainly there), he instead preferred to move the ball around unselfishly and find the open man. It worked to perfection and Denver very soon opened up a lead that proved to be insurmountable. Gilchrist also knocked down his open shots when they were there, either knocking down open NBA 3’s or stepping in off the dribble for a pull-up mid-range jumper. The highlight of the half was definitely an alleyoop pass he lobbed and converted to Diawarra from half-court.

Gilchrist did a good job running the offense and playing defense in the 2nd half, but with little rhyme or rythm to this game it really didn't make much of a difference. He was quieter in the scoring column.

Casey Jacobson

Casey Jacobson did not miss the entire first half, and came damn near close to 20 points in the 15 minutes or so he played. He knocked down his open threes after moving crisply off the ball, and then used the threat of his shot to open up his slashing game, which he used quite well to get to the basket and finish with a layup. Jacobson also did a good job crashing the boards and might just finish this game off with a double-double.

Jacobson cooled down a bit in the 2nd half as the game became a complete waste of time, but still left a very favorable overall first impression.

Portland- 82 Houston 88


Jonathan Givony

Travis Outlaw

Outlaw did a great job in the first half showing us exactly why he cannot get any minutes anywhere outside of the summer league. He settled repeatedly for weak mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers, pulling up sharply off the dribble with his body flailing in every direction imaginable. Unsurprisingly, he bricked almost every single one.

Last year, Outlaw did a nice job making up for his shortcomings in the shot-selection category by filling up the stat-sheet with rebounds, blocks and steals. So far, we’ve seen none of that.

In the 2nd half, Outlaw continued to show just how much of a liability his combination of poor ball-handling, shot-selection and feel for the game is. He ran into brick walls repeatedly, turned the ball over, was called for charges and generally was a huge disappointment.

Joel Freeland

Freeland didn’t do too much as far as showing actual skills go, but he did drop quite a few glimpses of his potential by running the floor in transition, getting scrappy in the paint going up for rebounds and defending and even coming up with one fantastic block on Chuck Hayes to eliminate an easy basket on a fast break. Freeland has a ways to go as far as his skill level is concerned, but he shows good physical attributes (nice frame, excellent athleticism) and a great attitude to continue to develop.

Ha Sueng Jin

Ha actually started and played a little bit, but he was here in spirit only.

In the 2nd half, Ha got his first and I believe only shot of the game when he got the ball in the paint with an opportunity to post his man up. He clumsily put the ball on the floor with a rather shocked look on his face and threw up a dud that barely graced the side of the glass. That was the extent of what Ha Sueng Jin showed today.

Martell Webster

Webster came in here billed as the top player in this game considering his lofty draft status and the expectations most Trailblazer fans have of him, and came away with pretty positive results after a very poor start. Webster was repeatedly challenged to put the ball on the floor and go to his left hand by perennial allstar defender Pat Carroll, and either did so and turned it over or just took himself out of the play completely by passing up a one on one opportunity. Having quite a few plays called for him, Webster was brought off multiple screens and couldn’t really find his mid-range or 3-point shot, even airballing one opportunity badly. Webster continued to show his lack of aggressiveness and potentially athleticism by missing a fairly wide-open layup in transition that he most definitely should have dunked. One 3-pointer and then an and-one off an iso with just a few seconds left in the first half redeemed him a little bit.

Webster continued right where he left off at the end of the first off, establishing himself as Portland’s go-to scorer by moving off the ball and freeing himself up for open looks from the perimeter. He drained a number of shots in succession, both from NBA 3-point range (possibly with a foot on the line) and mid-range, looking very smooth and effortless in his release, and being extremely aggressive throughout. Offensively Webster remains mostly a spot-up 3-point threat, but he is damn good at it when his shot is falling the way it was in the last 25 minutes of the game, a 6-7 version of Steve Novak, if you will. He played excellent defense as well, being aggressive in staying in front of his man, but not being able to do much about Steve Novak’s height and incredibly quick shot release with the amazing day he was having.

LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge surprisingly was brought off the bench and came out quite rusty to start things off. He refused to do any kind of work inside the paint, settling for weak turnaround jumpers repeatedly, facing up and spotting up for the 16 footer, and generally taking the ball up softly in almost everything he did. Somewhere in the 2nd quarter things started falling for him more, and the turnaround jumpers he continued to settle for went down for him at a very nice rate. Defensively he did a great job moving his feet out on the perimeter and hedging the pick and roll, using his quickness and length to challenge shots and showing a lot of potential in this part of his game.

Aldridge’s rebounding was a bit of a concern today. On numerous occasions he just stood around as the ball came off the rim and refused to go after it, possibly expecting PJ Tucker or Brad Buckman to come and do the dirty work for him. Offensively, he wasn’t very active either and really didn’t get too many touches. It didn’t seem to bother him all that much.

Brandon Roy

Roy warmed the bench for the first 8 minutes of the game, and then played for the rest of the first half. He was played strictly at the point and did not look out of place doing so, moving the ball around unselfishly, finding the open man, keeping all of his teammates happy and getting to the rim at will. His ball-handling skills looked especially sweet, but he was a little bit too aggressive at times and was called for a couple of questionable charges. One extremely pretty pull-up jumper floating left from 14 feet out showed everyone in the building exactly how large the gap is talent-wise between him and everyone else on the floor.

Roy continued to play the point in the 2nd half and did not look as comfortable as he did in the first. Portland’s offense looked very stagnant and Roy didn’t do a great job initiating things. It would have been nice to see him do some work off the ball as well, but the Trailblazers didn’t want to use Sean Dockery at all. Defensively, Roy really struggled trying to stay in front of the much smaller and quicker John Lucas. Lucas got to wherever he wanted on the floor and there wasn’t much Roy could do to stop him.


Eric Weiss

John Lucas III

Lucas manned the point with authority in the first half of action, mixing timely passing with efficient scoring bids. Lucas kept his head up constantly and set an excellent pace for his club while promoting solid ball movement and tempo. In the first quarter, Lucas had five strong drives, with three being finished for scores and the other two for assists. Lucas showed good body control and a soft touch while elevating for the completion of each play.

Lucas really picked up the tempo and got his team firing on all cylinders in the 2nd half. Lucas brought Pat Carroll into the shooting fray and the pacing of the game that Lucas set enabled Chuck Hayes to do plenty of garbage work on the glass. The larger the lead got and the faster the pace became, the greater Lucas’ bravado and creativity went. The confidence established with his strong drives allowed Lucas to explore his perimeter game a bit late in the game and with good results; he hit two smooth 3-pointers using his teammates help on separation.

Great inaugural performance…

Steve Novak

Novak came out blazing in this game, converting his first three deep balls and four of six overall. It was Novak’s movement off-ball that was the most encouraging, something that he wasn’t able to show in the less organized pre draft camps. Novak’s ability to shoot over defenders in close spaces as well as setting quality picks and making smart decisions with his shot selection, was quite evident throughout the first half.

The 2nd half was more of the same. Novak coupled with Pat Carroll to put on an outside shooting display. Novak showed the full arsenal in this half, once he got the set shots cooking, he began to utilize the perceived threat to shot fake and get cleaner looks. Novak’s release and results suffered no ill effects from the motion and as the 4th quarter progressed the speed at which he executed his moves drastically increased.

Pat Carroll

Carroll was quietly effective in the first half, but nothing substantial enough to warrant mention. However, in the 2nd half Carroll absolutely came alive. Taking the lead from John Lucas and Steve Novak, Carroll began to find the rhythm from the perimeter and used the confidence generated from that to explore his dribble-drive. One particular drive to the hoop found Carroll cut off near the rim when driving hard off the left elbow. Carroll changed direction toward the baseline and finished an excellent reverse lay-in, which took tremendous body control and showed a level of athleticism previously unseen.

Chuck Hayes

Chuck Hayes did all the dirty-work in this game and brought his own energy to the frenetic mix the Rockets team showed. Hayes was active running the court in transition, used excellent anticipation in the half-court sets, and finished his put-backs well. No one element stood out aside from his board work, but it was evident why the Rockets valued his presence on the team last season.

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