The Vegas Summer League Review continues with a look at the Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Grizzlies and Timberwolves. Two of these teams were really bad – can you guess which ones? (Here’s a hint – the Grizzlies and the Timberwolves).
CHICAGO BULLS (1-4)
PPG – John Lucas III – 18.3
RPG Trent Plaisted – 9.0
APG – John Lucas III – 2.7
Most Valuable Player – Samardo Samuels
Most Improved Player – John Lucas III
Biggest Surprise – Samardo Samuels
Summer League Review – Samardo Samuels was out to prove a point this week, and did he ever. Everything people expected to see out of him at Louisville, finally started to come out in Las Vegas. He was tough in the post, showed nice footwork, a face-up game which I never knew he had, and good touch on his shots. Defensively, he played aggressively, but smart, and played with passion. He started to wear down a bit by the end of the week, but he showed up in better condition than he was in last season. James Johnson, on the other hand, was a disappointment. He has showed little improvement from last season, and in some ways, such as defensively, has regressed. He needs to focus on doing what he does best – rebounding and being a tough presence down low. John Lucas III played in only three games, but he showed some excellent skills while out there. The most impressive part was the improvement he has shown as a perimeter shooter, with a much quicker release and longer range. Matt Bouldin had an up and down week. He did a decent job running the offense, but his shot wasn’t falling and he seemed frustrated by pressure defense. Morris Almond showed that he can still score, but that’s about it. Trent Plaisted continued to make the case to be on a roster this fall with strong play on the boards. He didn’t do as much on the offensive end as he did in Orlando, but he still looked ready to play NBA level ball. Just the opposite, AJ Ogilvie still has some work to do. Solid fundamentally, he lacks the athleticism or muscle to be a true post player.
Who to Look For This Season – Samuels should make the team with a decent showing in pre-season camp. Ogilvie, Bouldin and Almond will either be in the D-League or overseas for the year. Lucas is a tough call, he has a ton of heart, but just doesn’t seem quick enough to play the point in the NBA.
DETROIT PISTONS (2-3)
PPG – DeJuan Summers – 15.8
RPG Greg Monroe – 8.0
APG – Edgar Sosa – 2.8
Most Valuable Player – Austin Daye
Most Improved Player – DeJuan Summers
Biggest Surprise – Edgar Sosa
Summer League Review – While I was anticipating the debuts of Greg Monroe and Terrico White, it was the 2nd year players who stole the show for the Pistons. DeJuan Summers, Austin Daye, and Jonas Jerebko all have shown great improvement over the last year. Daye has become a threat inside and out, and his court vision has improved greatly. He still needs to work on getting stronger, though he is not as weak as he looks. Summers has become a more consistent perimeter shooter and has improved his defense, especially off the ball. Jerebko was probably the most polished of the three last year, though his rate of improvement is not as great. Monroe was inconsistent all week, though he improved each game. Again, he is someone who needs to add some muscle to be more of a true post player. White showed off his perimeter range on a few occasions, but needs to improve getting to the rim, as well as his defensive presence on the ball. Edgar Sosa played better here than I ever remember at Louisville. He played in control, got the ball to players in the right spots, and played tough defense. He should get a chance to come to pre-season camp off of this performance. Both Mac Koshwal and Marquez Haynes had their moments in limited minutes – Koshwal because of foul troubles and Haynes because of Sosa’s play. Koshwal is a couple of years from being a NBA player, though he has the body and raw talent to eventually make it.
Who to Look For This Season – Summers has a real shot at moving ahead of Jerebko on the depth chart this fall, while Daye should become more of an impact player in Year 2. Monroe will be a member of the All-Rookie Team, while White will be a great addition off the bench for Rip Hamilton. Sosa should get a camp invite, though I don’t think we will see him on a NBA roster this season
MILWAUKEE BUCKS (1-4)
PPG – Larry Sanders – 14.0
RPG Larry Sanders – 8.4
APG – Dominic James – 3.5
Most Valuable Player – Larry Sanders
Most Improved Player – Tiny Gallon
Biggest Surprise – Deron Washington
Summer League Review – While the results could have been better for the Bucks, there was still plenty for them to be happy about during the week. Larry Sanders showed why he may be one of the most NBA-ready rookies this season. He showed he could play both inside and out, though he needs to improve his ballhandling a bit. He showed good range on his jumper and did a good job on the boards. Tiny Gallon steadily improved as the week went on. By the end of the week, Gallon was playing hard, showed some strong moves to the basket and was grabbing a lot of tough rebounds. Conditioning will still be an issue for him, but he can provide valuable minutes during the season. Deron Washington did a great job getting into the lane and finishing, and played much better defense than when I last watched him. Dominic James made a case as to why he should be in the NBA, though I am not sure he has the size and strength for it. Micah Downs had a so-so week, doing a little bit of everything on the offensive end, though his defense leaves a lot to be desired. His footwork was a bit slow. Sean Williams looked good in limited minutes, playing tough defense and showing nice agility around the rim. Darington Hobson did not play due to a groin injury.
Who to Look For This Season – Sanders should play a lot of minutes immediately for the Bucks, while Gallon should be good for 10-15 solid minutes a game. I think Washington will have a shot to stick around as back-up and could get some minutes when they need quick scoring.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (2-3)
PPG – Sam Young – 19.4
RPG Hasheem Thabeet – 8.6
APG – Greivis Vasquez – 4.0
Most Valuable Player – Sam Young
Most Improved Player – Hasheem Thabeet
Biggest Surprise – Greivis Vasquez
Summer League Review – The Grizzlies did not look good in Vegas, especially when you consider that their starting 5 all played in the NBA last season. OJ Mayo cannot be a NBA-level point guard. That was quite clear in Vegas where his decision-making was poor, his instincts were off, and his passes were all over the place. Luckily, he only played in 2 games and was spared further humiliation. Sam Young was the best player by default, having been one of the few Grizzlies to play more than 1 good game. He still does much of his scoring around the basket, but has yet to adjust to playing out on the perimeter. He does still have the best head fake in all of basketball though. DeMarre Carroll has not improved at all since college, and really didn’t show much in Vegas. I liked some of the improvements I saw in Hasheem Thabeet, especially how he raised his aggressiveness level around the basket on offense. He did a good job on the boards, but still needs to get stronger to have an impact. Greivis Vasquez got off to a decent start in his Grizzlies career, showing great playmaking abilities and some good hustle. He also showed his propensity towards silly turnovers. Jeff Adrien continued to be one of my favorite players this summer with some very tough play in the lane.
Who to Look For This Season – The person we really need to look for is Xavier Henry. The Grizzlies will need him to make a run at a .500 record again this season.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (1-4)
PPG – Wayne Ellington – 15.8
RPG Patrick O’Bryant – 7.0
APG – Jeremy Pargo – 4.2
Most Valuable Player – Wayne Ellington
Most Improved Player – Wayne Ellington
Biggest Surprise – Wayne Ellington
Summer League Review – As you can see from the awards above, there was very little for the Timberwolves to get excited about other than Wayne Ellington. Ellington showed that he has gotten much better working one-on-one, though his long-range shot wasn’t working for him. Defensively, he still has some issues, especially closing on shooters. Lazar Hayward had a decent first showing as a Timberwolf, showing decent range on his perimeter shot and playing tough defense, though he still needs to adjust to the speed of the NBA game. Wesley Johnson looked good in the one game he played before he was shut down, and Jonny Flynn didn’t play at all. Though it would have been fun to see them play together, it may have been a smart move keeping them off the floor. Jeremy Pargo was the primary point guard for the week and seemed to show the effects of playing back to back summer leagues. He didn’t show the motor he had last week playing for the Bobcats. Patrick O’Bryant did an admirable job manning the middle, though he hasn’t improved much since he came into the league. Cedric Simmons was another player who I had high hopes for after a good week in Orlando, but he seemed to be out of sync with the TWolves team and didn’t get much court time.
Who to Look For This Season – The trio of Flynn, Ellington and Johnson should provide some exciting moments this upcoming season. Hayward will provide solid minutes off the bench – especially being able to guard multiple positions and rebound. And I almost forgot, Darko is making a lot of money.
More to come tonight with the Rockets, Mavericks (don’t be surprised if I am the only one critical of Jeremy Lin), Nuggets, and Hornets.