2008 NBA Summer League: Day 1
The NBADraft.net crew has yet to make its way out to Vegas, so this first Summer League wrap-up comes courtesy of NBA-TV and the wonderful streaming video at NBA.com. While it's obviously ridiculous to make any definitive statements about anyone's performance quite yet, some intriguing plotlines began to develop on Day One.
Golden State 96, Philadelphia 89
Anthony Randolph stole the show, pouring in 30 points on 12-18 shooting. The wiry LSU star showed nice touch around the rim and a handful of surprisingly crafty interior moves -- including an up-and-under fake that completely fooled his defenders. Half of his misses came from beyond the arc, so Randolph would be best advised to stick close to the hoop while waiting for that shaky perimeter jumper to develop.
Brandan Wright also showed some nice poise, adding 17 points on 5-7 shooting. Wright and Randolph might not be asked to star in any Under Armor ads, but they appear to be taking Summer League seriously.
Thaddeus Young was Philly's standout performer. The former Yellow Jacket tallied 27 points and played like the best player on the floor for long stretches. Despite playing out of position for most of his rookie year, Young showed star potential. He will see major minutes in the 76ers' rotation at his more natural small forward position, now that Elton Brand will occupy the 4-spot.
Florida big man Marresse Speights opened some eyes this afternoon with a stellar 22-point, 13-rebound outing. During one stretch, he threw down three consecutive dunks. His stamina started to wane in the second half, which was one of his big question marks heading into draft day. If Speights can use the Summer League to strengthen his lungs, he'll be a contributor this season.
Former CSU standout Jason Smith was one rebound away from a triple-double -- points, boards and fouls. Smith dished out more hacks than a lumberjack. He drew more whistles than a drunk girl at Mardi Gras. He, um…ok, I'll stop.
Memphis 88, New Orleans 75
Even if the Grizzles struggle to top 30 wins in the regular season, there is no disputing that they have one of the most entertaining Summer League rosters in Vegas. It was a joy to watch OJ Mayo, Mike Conley and Javaris Crittenton in the three-guard set. That kind of quickness and talent is almost unfair in this type of setting.
All eyes were on Mayo, and he delivered with a solid 15 points and five assists. Yes, he got sloppy (eight turnovers in 34 minutes), but the ability is there. He'll be on the short list for potential Rookie of the Year contenders.
Memphis' best player, however, was former Kansas star Darrell Arthur. Once projected as a certain lottery pick, Arthur surprisingly fell all the way to pick No. 27. He'll end up being one of the steals of the 2008 draft. Arthur scored 18 points on 9-12 shooting and gave off an Al Horford vibe throughout the contest. Granted, Arthur isn't nearly the rebounder Horford is, and he doesn't possess Horford's nonstop motor, but there's no question that he will become a legit NBA power forward, sooner rather than later.
For New Orleans, Hilton Armstrong fell a rebound and a foul shy of the Jason Smith-esque triple-double, but few others really distinguished themselves.
Arthur's former teammate Julian Wright had a day he'd rather forget, missing 13 of his 17 shot attempts and committing 11 turnovers. Yikes.
Also, the Hornets had a guy named Adam Haluska who looked and played just like Woody Harrelson in "White Men Can't Jump," so that was fun.
Detroit 84, LA Lakers 73
The Pistons' Summer squad features some serious talent, headlined by playmaking guard Rodney Stuckey. Some might wonder what a player of Stuckey's caliber is doing in Vegas, but it's clear that the Pistons want him to improve his point-guard skills and his court vision.
Even though Stuckey's field-goal percentage left something to be desired (6-15), he was able to penetrate into the lane at will, getting to the line 10 times on his way to 21 points. Stuckey is being groomed as Chauncey Billups' successor, and based on what we saw today, all that's keeping him from attaining that position is the occasional lapse in concentration. Stuckey will gain those decision-making skills through experience and maturiation.
Former UCLA star Arron Afflalo added 15 points, scoring on a handful of Rip Hamilton-esque pin-downs. Amir Johnson added 12 points in 17 minutes and Trent Plaisted chipped in 10. Those two combined to shoot 9-10 from the floor.
The Lakers began the game with an absolutely dreadful offensive showing but picked things up in the second half. While there isn't much star power on this roster, there are a couple of interesting battles to monitor.
Coby Karl and Joe Crawford will likely need a strong Summer League in order to secure a roster spot. This day, Karl seized the upper hand, scoring 14 to Crawford's nine.
Bryant Dunston hit all four of his shots for 11 points in an effort to distinguish himself, with Sherrod Ford and Dwayne Mitchell adding 10 apiece.
LA Clippers 86, Dallas 69
Give Eric Gordon credit. The young man is not shy.
Some teenagers might elect to ease into things during their first NBA Summer League outing. Not Gordon. The former Hoosier fired 18 shots in 32 minutes. Granted, he missed 13 of them, but he still ended up with 23 points and seven rebounds.
Gordon is a breathtaking talent with a remarkable ability to absorb contact at the rim. He showed strong ball-handling skills, but not quite enough court sense to flourish as a point guard quite yet. Gordon is perfect in the "scoring sparkplug off the bench" role, which is exactly how the Clippers will use him if they're smart.
Al Thornton excelled in his "man among boys" routine, scoring 20 points in 28 minutes. With Brand and Corey Maggette no longer in the picture, expect the Clippers to ask Thornton to help pick up the scoring slack. Pick him up in your fantasy league this season. However, the second-year player will turn 25 in December, so what you see right now is basically what you're going to get.
DeAndre Jordan had a couple of nice moments, but he wore down the longer he was out there. At one time, the 7-footer from Texas A&M was mentioned as a possible top-five pick, but questions about his work ethic sent his draft stock tumbling. The Clippers have this year's ultimate "boom or bust" prospect.
Dallas submitted a pretty nondescript effort in its Summer League debut. James Singleton led the way with 13 and former slam dunk king Gerald Green scored a dozen. This team would be more entertaining if Singleton, Green and Pops Mensah-Bonsu engaged in a pre-game dunk contest, with Richie Frahm and Yaroslav Korolev as the judges.