NBA Summer League: Day 11 Recap
Golden State Warriors 91, Phoenix Suns 77
The Golden State Warriors (7-0) took home the inaugural Las Vegas Summer League championship with a 91-77 win over the Phoenix Suns (6-1).
Ian Clark caught fire in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center, posting a summer-league-high 33 points on 12-19 shooting, including 7-10 from long range. Clark had scored only 54 points in his six previous games, but put on a show in this contest to claim the title game's MVP award.
Clark finished the first quarter scoreless, but went on a scoring spree in the second, scoring 19 points in the quarter. His hot shooting continued in the second half to help the Warriors pull away from the Suns. In addition to his perimeter shooting display, Clark also finished drives strong and added a nice spin move in transition on the struggling Kendall Marshall.
2013 Summer League All-Star Kent Bazemore finished the tournament strong, putting up 18 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. The always-animated Bazemore had all the facets of his game working in this one.
Cameron Jones started slowly, taking just the one field goal in the first half. He gained momentum as the Warriors closed in on the win, including a nice drive and ball fake for a three-point play in the fourth quarter. He finished with 12 points and three steals.
Draymond Green made plays at both ends of the floor. He may be streaky (to put it mildly), but Green has the ability to knock down outside shots. Like most players who come through Tom Izzo's program, Green possesses a nice passing touch, finding James Southerland on a nice backdoor play. Green fouled out in the last minute, but picked up 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists before exiting.
Rookie Archie Goodwin carried Phoenix's offense in the first half and finished with a team-high 18 points. The lightning-quick Goodwin got to the rim early and often, easily blowing by his defenders on a few occasions. His work-in-progress perimeter jumper can find the net if he's given space and the time to set his feet. On the downside, Goodwin had four turnovers, including a lazy pass that resulted in an over-and-back violation.
Markeiff Morris finished with 17 points and six rebounds on 7-15 from the field. His twin brother, Marcus Morris (10 points, seven boards), pulled a similar And1-style move we saw from him yesterday, losing his defender with a behind-the-back dribble and hitting a pull-up jumper. As the game slipped away, frustration set in for the Suns, with both PJ Tucker and first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek getting whistled for technicals.
LVSL All-Star Team
• League MVP: Jonas Valanciunas. The Toronto big man was without any question the most talented and imposing player in Las Vegas. He bullied his way to 18.8 points and 10 rebounds in his four games and was perhaps a bit overqualified for summer league. If the Raptors do, in fact, contend for a 7- or 8-seed in the East, it will be because Valanciunas took his game up a notch.
• Kent Bazemore. Had Valanciunas spent his summer elsewhere, Bazemore would have had a pretty strong argument for the MVP award. He was the heart and soul of the undefeated Warriors, posting 18.4 points on 44 percent shooting (an important number for him), 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals. Few guards can match Bazemore's outrageous 6-foot-11.5 wingspan, a physical attribute that already allows him to defend at the NBA level. If Bazemore can knock down just enough perimeter shots to keep Golden State's spacing intact, he might graduate from “most enthusiastic Steph Curry cheerleader” to “Andre Iguodala's apprentice” this season.
• Jeff Taylor. Here is another player who might be a bit too polished for summer-league competition. The 6-foot-7 wing out of Vanderbilt saw nearly 20 minutes per night as a rookie in Charlotte last season, and will likely be asked to carry a bigger scoring load for the Bobcats this year. Taylor tallied 20.3 points per outing in his four games this summer and acted as a calming influence for a young team in need of some leadership.
• Cody Zeller. The No. 4 pick in the draft had a rough start to his professional career, but got noticeably better as the summer went along. Zeller finished with 21, 18 and 18 points in his final three games and was (along with Portland's CJ McCollum) the most confident, comfortable and consistent lottery pick in Las Vegas, outshining Ben McLemore and Shabazz Muhammad.
Obviously, it's impossible to base any prospect's potential on what happens in summer league (Steph Curry and Kevin Durant struggled, while Jonny Flynn and Luke Harangody excelled), but Zeller showed enough here to get those Charlotte fans who booed the instant they heard his name called off his back – at least for a little while.
• John Henson. The spidery, sinewy Henson played in only three games for the Bucks this summer, but he made a major impact each time he stepped on the floor. He led all Vegas summer leaguers with an eye-opening 13.7 rebounds per contest in just 27 minutes per night, and added 14.7 points and three blocks just for kicks.
The Bucks have put together the most nonsensical roster in modern NBA history, so Henson might have a tough time securing consistent playing time ahead of LARRY SANDERS! (copyright Zach Lowe), Zaza Pachulia, Ekpe Udoh, Gustavo Ayon and Ersan Ilyasova, but the rail-thin shot-altering machine out of North Carolina should find a niche as a high-level role player in this league. I'm sure the Clippers, Warriors or even the Heat would love to have him in their big-man rotation.
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