Just in time for the start of Day 3 – here is my Review of yesterday’s action. For the most part, the same players continue to impress and not impress. Let’s hope for someone new breaking out on Day 3.
UTAH 78 Orlando 73
Who Impressed – Watching Utah for a full game for the first time, a few players stood out to me. Gordon Hayward (14 pts, 2 rebs, 2 asts) did everything I expected him to. What I love about watching him play is his ability to make plays out of what appear to be nothing. His court vision is fantastic, and he is definitely a lot tougher than he looks. Kostas Koufos (13 pts., 11 rebs) also played a lot better than I expected. He has a nice touch around the rim and he moved very well for his size. I would like to see him improve his power moves to the basket and get to the line more often where he does a good job hitting them. Jeremy Evans, who I did not see a lot of at Western Kentucky, also looked good. He needs to add some serious muscle, but he is always around the ball, and is especially good on the defensive end.
For Orlando, I was impressed by Paul Davis and Donell Taylor. Davis was incredibly active down low and did a good job on both ends of the floor. He knows how to use his size and can be an effective back-up center in the NBA. Taylor seemed to be playing in another gear than his teammates. I think Utah used 5 different defenders on him, and none of them could stop him from getting to the rim. While I still don’t see a role for Jerome Randle in the NBA, I was impressed by his hustle on both ends of the floor.
Not Impressed – While Daniel Orton had a few bright moments, he is going to need a lot of work, and he is exactly the type of player the NBDL is made for. He has so much to work on that he will be best served in a place where he will be on the court.
Sundiata Gaines had a very rough game, and had a lot of trouble when Orlando turned up the pressure. He tried to force too much and didn’t show the control he showed last season.
CHARLOTTE 86 Oklahoma City 85
Who Impressed – Even before he hit the buzzer-beater to win the game, Jeremy Pargo was, by far, the most impressive of the Charlotte point guards. He showed great control of the offense, played tough defense and had a monster dunk on an alley-oop from Gerald Henderson. Henderson had another great game, and has shown that he is ready to play consistent minutes with the NBA team next season. His perimeter shot still needs a little work, but he has a great first step to separate from his defender which gives him a lot of easy looks. Charlotte’s big men, Alexis Ajinca and Nathan Jawai, also looked good and forced Byron Mullens into a lot of bad shots. Jawai’s quickness for his size was fun to watch, especially when defending the pick and roll.
For Oklahoma City, Eric Maynor and James Harden continued to impress. Maynor ran the offense very well and again had little trouble getting penetration against whoever was defending him. Harden showed good ability inside and out and again played very tough defense. DJ White was very impressive and showed great range on his jumper, hitting consistently from 15-19 feet.
Not Impressed – Not much here in this game, though I expect better play out of Sherron Collins the rest of the week.
PHILADELPHIA 86 Boston 69
Who Impressed – Same players as yesterday for Philadelphia – Jodie Meeks, Jrue Holiday, and Cedric Simmons. Simmons continues to play tough around the rim, and is surprisingly good in transition. Holiday will make major strides in his second season in the league, and Meeks will find a role somewhere in the NBA as a sharpshooter. Evan Turner had a horrendous first half, but seemed much more comfortable in the second half. While not really “impressive”, you can definitely see the skills that made him the #2 pick in the draft.
Luke Harangody was again a bright spot for the Celtics. This time he focused his play around the rim and on the boards and put up a double-double. Tony Gaffney showed great athleticism and a nice perimeter touch, and also was impressive in transition. Jaycee Carroll is a fantastic shooter and also showed that he isn’t afraid to go among the big boys and grab a board or two.
Not Impressed – Everyone who played for the Sixers looked good yesterday. Can’t say the same for Boston. Their bench, especially Ryan Wittman and Ryan Thompson, looked lost at times out there, and both were way too hesitant when they got the ball. Vyacheslev Kravstov, the big Russian, is incredibly heavy-footed and will need to become much tougher and much more agile to play in the NBA.
NEW JERSEY 80 Indiana 69
Who Impressed – Terrence Williams again showed that he is also going to be a contributor to the rebuilding of the Nets. He has been the most unstoppable player over the last 2 days. What was more impressive tonight was his defense. He was all over the place, and did a great job on and off the ball. Damion James had a monster game, looking like he was still playing in the Big 12. He was active around the rim, ripping rebounds out of players’ hands, and even showed some perimeter range. He does need to work on his shot selection, especially mid-range, where he tends to pass up a good first look. Jakim Donaldson also looked very good, showing the ability to mix it up on the boards with much stronger players.
Lance Stephenson, while not as good as yesterday, still showed that he is going to be a 2nd round steal for the Pacers. Josh McRoberts has almost made me take back all of the bad things I have said about him over these last 2 days. He is playing a lot tougher than I recall over the last few years, though he needs to learn that his place is not on the perimeter. A 3 here and there on a pick and pop is OK, but he needs to figure out his role. Paul George played the best defense I have seen from him over the last year. He has long arms and he was disrupting everything with them. He also did a great job on the boards. Shot selection is also a problem for him, but that should come with experience.
Not Impressed – Brian Zoubek is almost painful to watch out there. My knees hurt just watching him run up and down the floor. Derrick Favors seemed much more tentative than yesterday, but still showed good athleticism. I was just hoping for a better follow-up from yesterday.
Well that’s it for Day 2 – make sure to check back tomorrow for Day 3’s Review and the beginning of the Vegas Summer League Previews.