2008 NBA Summer League: Day 6
San Antonio 82 New York 67
Danilo Galinari is out for the rest of summer league with a sore back, and the rest of the New York Knicks played with what appeared to be a sore shooting touch. The Knicks shot a horrendous 36% from the field on their way to an 82-67 defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were led by Roger Powell’s 15 points and Ian Mahinmi’s 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Knicks leading scorer was the recently signed Anthony Roberson, who finished with 12 while only shooting 4 for 13 on the day.
Knicks fans held their breath as forward Renaldo Balkman was taken off the court by teammates, and later seen leaving Las Vegas on crutches, heading back to his home in Florida, ending his Summer League activity for the time being. Nate Robinson, last year’s Summer League Most Valuable Player, struggled mightily in his first action of the summer, shooting 2 for 10 and forcing unnecessary hot-dog passes that hurt the team. He will every opportunity to play in Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system this season, but unless he is able to refine his game and be more reliable, his best value will be as a team cheerleader. D’Anotini likes fast, but he prefers good, and Robinson is still searching for that consistency. At one point, Robinson attempted a behind the back pass trying to split two defenders off a screen and roll, which sailed out of bounds. A poor decision if ever there was one.
The Spurs, meanwhile, have found a real gem in Maryland forward James Gist. Though his numbers are modest: 10 points and 8 rebounds averaged over 24 minutes and 3 games, Gist’s athletic ability and overall efficiency (56% shooting from the field, 1.7 TO’s) make him a valuable prospect for Greg Popovich and company. He is also a committed defender, with a long, wiry frame that bothers opponents. Gist should be invited to training camp, and in time can crack the Spurs’ rotation as a backup energy defender.
Dallas 93 Sacramento 71
Gerald Green would like you to know that he is not just a dunker. After bouncing around from the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves, the Dallas Mavericks took a chance on the young talent out of Gulf Shore Academy (TX.) with a one year deal. At a crossroads in his career, Summer League is a venue that a player with his experience should be dominating. That has not been the case thus far as Green shot just 7 for 20 in his first 2 games before finally putting together a solid effort yesterday at Cox Pavilion, scoring 18 points of 5 for 12 shooting in a 93-71 Mavericks victory over the Kings. Most impressively, he was able to get his buckets in only 20 minutes of game time.
The Kings were led by sophomore center Spencer Hawes, who had 17 points but missed 11 of his 17 shots. Overall, the Kings shot an ugly looking 33.8% from the field, showing fatigue and a lack of aggression throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Quincy Douby, who has been the Kings leading scorer with 17.7 points per game 3 games, struggled on this day with just 9 points, missing 9 of his 12 shots, including all of his 3 attempts from behind the 3 point arc. However, Douby has been impressive with his shot selection, getting to the rack whenever possible, not settling for the outside jumper that was his trademark coming out of college.
The Mavericks summer league gem thus far has been Mississippi State Bulldog forward Charles Rhodes, a 6-8 bruiser with a diverse skill set who pounded his way to 13 and 10 yesterday in only 17 minutes. He will have a lot of competition for a roster spot with the Mavericks (see: Sow, Pape and Bass, Brandon) but has shown he belongs on the pro level.
Philadelphia 86 Washington 72
It’s important to qualify your expectation of players in the regular season based on their Summer League play. Many players have excelled and/or dominated in summer league and then not shown that talent during the regular season, not cracked a team’s 15 man roster, or been glued to a bench (see: Belinelli, Marco) . Having said that, it would be difficult for Philadelphia 76ers fans to not be ecstatic with the play of their big man core, sophomore center Jason Smith and rookie F/C Marreese Speights. Speights and Smith each scored 24 points and hauled in 13 and 11 rebounds, respectively, in an 86-72 cruise for the Sixers over the Wizards.
The Wizards were led by Andray Blatche’s 18 points, but didn’t get much from fellow young studs Nick Young and Dominic McGuire. Those three, billed as the young “Big 3” for Washington’s future, have not done enough thus far to get the Wizards in win in their first 2 games of Summer League play. Expectations are lofty whenever you have a “Big 3” label slapped on you, even if it is undeserved. Of the 3, Blatche is the most unique talent (6-11 with a smooth handle and mid-range game) and most ready to contribute this upcoming season, but they each have plenty of room and need for growth.
For the Sixers, Thaddeus Young didn’t have the best go of it. You can’t be superman all the time. He shot a feeble 3-13, turned it over 4 times, and looked out of sync with the flow and rhythm of the game. That will happen, and surely fatigue played a part as the Sixers played their 4th game in 6 days.
Los Angeles 95 Minnesota 93
Maybe Kevin Love doesn’t have to play above the rim in order to be a rebounding force in the League after all. Remember Charles Oakley? Certainly he was no leaper. In terms of positioning, timing, and using his body seal off his man, Kevin Love has really impressed. Love gobbled up 17 boards to go with his 18 points and 4 assists, but it was not enough to stop the balance attack of the Lakers squad as the Timberwolves lost in a tight one, 95-93.
The Lakers had 5 players score in double figures, led by former Maryland forward Nik Caner-Medley’s 19 points, including 10 for 12 from the charity stripe. Caner-Medley has been a vagabond since his 4 year career at Maryland has ended, playing in Germany, Spain, and the NBDL. While a game like this could get him a training camp invite, it’s a long-shot that he will stick with the roster as it stands.
Lakers’ guard Coby Karl was quiet today, netting just 14 on 3 for 8 shooting, and not being mistaken for Kobe Bryant at any point in time. Corey Brewer of the T’wolves showed his all-around talents today, finally putting a game together that properly represents his ability. A demon on the fast break, Brewer dropped in 19 and had 2 game-changing blocked shots, once chasing his man down on the fast break (a la Tayshaun Prince / Reggie Miller) and another time snuffing a would-be dunker. His ability to finish in transition coupled with his defensive stopper mentality make him a weapon the T’Wolves will be forced to use more this upcoming season. He just needs to find some consistency in his half-court game to be a regular starter in the League.
Still, the story of the day was K-Love and his mysterious board working ways. If he continues to work on his body and add some lift to his already superior mental faculties, he has the potential to be a factor as a glass-eater as early as next season, although the competition is not what he will see in real games, but working with Al Jefferson up front he’ll help the T’Wolves improve their record from a woeful 22-60 this past year.