By Aran Smith
The top performers of day five were Francisco Garcia, JJ Barea, Rodney Carney, Renaldo Balkman , and Aaron Brooks.
(2-0) Sacramento Kings 75 – (0-1) Washington Wizards 64
Francisco Garcia will be playing under his old (Louisville assistant) coach Reggie Theus next season in Sacramento. Garcia led the Kings past the Wizards with 21 points on 6-10 shooting knocking down 4-6 three pointers. He also got up for a dunk and looked solid all around. With the progression of Kevin Martin into a great scorer, it will be interesting to see how much Theus will use Garcia next season.
Spencer Hawes struggled shooting just 4-16 from the field with 8 points and blew one easy dunk attempt. He looks like a excellent pick for the Kings, but right now is obviously going through some growing pains.
Nick Young was unimpressive in his debut shooting just 3-14 with 11 points. He seems to have trouble in the half court as he missed open teammates on a few occasions and forced shots. He has a 7 foot wingspan and shows a lot of upside, but he may take some time before he’s a real factor for this team.
(3-0) Dallas Mavericks 87 – (1-1) Denver Nuggets 83
JJ Barea continued his dominance over the summer league helping the Mavs take their record to 3-0. Despite a woeful shooting performance from all of the Mavs other starters, Barea found a way to keep the Mavs in front with clutch baskets in the fourth quarter. He finished with 18 points and just 2 assists, mostly due to his teammates blowing some easy shots.
For the Nuggets, point guard Will Blalock is the player that intrigues me the most. He’s got a lot of great attributes to be an excellent back up point guard including a tremendous set of arms and a natural feel for the PG position. Blalock had 17 points on 5-9 shooting and helped to limit Barea’s effectiveness.
Another standout for Denver was Von Wafer, the game’s high scorer with 19. Wafer used his athleticism to break free for a few dunks and aggresively drove to the basket where he got fouled and sent to the line a number of times (8-11 ft).
(2-2) Philadelphia 76ers 98 (1-1) Los Angeles Lakers 95
Rodney Carney raised his game another notch coming off the 19 point effort the day before. This time he had 30 to lead all scorers helping the Sixers to outlast the Lakers by three in overtime. His high flying game makes for an exciting brand of basketball, and he’s showing some ability to handle the ball especially in the full court. He needs the most work in his pull up off the dribble and one on one skills.
Louis Williams continues to show that he has really come into his own as an offensive player. He has been one of the top players and the leading scorer overall in the summer league to this point. He’s nearly impossible to stay in front of, and like Allen Iverson loves to take the ball in and draw fouls at the rim. He hit 16-22 from the line and finished with 29 points. His four games now include 19, 32, 23 and 29 points.
The Farmar-Crittenton duel made complete 180 as Farmar had the strong 18 point 11 assist effort while Crittenton failed to score. Farmar appears to be the odds on favorite to win the Lakers starting job. How long he can hold onto it could be another story.
Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith were each solid, but were overshadowed by Carney and Williams who took over the bulk of the offensive workload.
(1-0) New York Knicks 88 – (1-3) Team China 65
Yi’s roller coaster ride continued on Tuesday with his worst performance yet being held without a field goal and finishing with just 3 points. The stifling defense of Renaldo Balkman who looked excellent and Randolph Morris gave Yi absolute fits as he had his shot blocked on a number of occasions and traveled on a few others.
The Chinese National team had added an extra practice on Monday (it was supposed to be a day of rest, but the club had visions of winning another game), but it didn’t help as the Knicks disposed of the team quite easily and cruised to the 20+ point victory.
The latest on the Yi saga is that both sides remain at a standstill but scouts feel that Yi has not been very impressive overall and the feeling is that with a lesser performance his leverage has decreased. Larry Harris has taken measures to go around his agent Dan Fegan and become more personal with Yi. The two met once after the draft and it was a "courteous" exchange, but Yi did not report to Milwaukee after the selection as is customary for draft picks. Harris has asked the Chinese media on hand to introduce him to first Yi’s parents and then Yi’s girlfriend. Both times the acquaintances politely refused. So you can’t blame Harris for not trying.
The members of the Chinese media seem to think that Yi is likely to eventually go to Milwaukee, as it would be "disrespectful" not to go. The only other solution would be to call Milwaukee’s bluff the same way they have done with Yi by selecting him, and announce he will stay in China and play another season for the Guongdong Tigers until he is traded. This seems like an unlikely scenario as yi’s game would not continue to progress in China and his long term development could be stunted. The chess game between the two sides continues.
Renaldo Balkman had 10 points and 7 boards but it was his work on the defensive end that deserves the most recognition. He is turning into a tremendous energy player, precisely the Rodman type of defensive/rebounding/energy guy he envisioned when he selected him. Balkman’s lock down defense on Yi made for a long day for team China.
(2-2) San Antonio Spurs 90 – (2-1) Golden State Warriors 80
After starting 0-2, the Spurs have won games on back to back days.
Marco Belinelli had just 15 points, but he continues to generate a great deal of buzz among NBA scouts and GMs. He shot just 5-13, as it seems that teams have begun to center their offenses around him as he was met with much more pressure and did a great job of finding teammates when doubled and pressured. Belinelli’s background as a point guard makes him a great passer, and further enhances his versatility and effectiveness. With the absence of Kelenna Azubuike who did not play due to injury, Belinelli struggled as he was the only real go to player for the Warriors.
Jackie Butler has shown that he has raised his level of play with another solid 16 point (8-15) 7 rebound performance. His numbers have been solid, but some scouts still aren’t sold on him. He has great strength, but doesn’t look very fluid running the floor, and some question his maturity and attitude. His offensive game is obviously showing some signs of improvement.
Sweet shooting big forward Rich Meltzer was the game’s high scorer with 21. He drained 3-5 3 point shots, one of which came in the closing minutes to help seal the deal for San Antonio.
(1-0) Houston Rockets 90 – (0-2) LA Clippers 76
Rockets first round pick Aaron Brooks was seeing his first summer league action and he made a splash taking over in the second half finishing with 21 points on 6-14 shooting, displaying his tremendous quickness and great shooting ability. He also held Clippers second round PG draft pick Jared Jordan to just 3 points on 1-4 shooting. His blinding speed and ability to pull up at the drop of a dime makes him an extremely difficult player to guard. Brooks is looking like a great pick at 26 and could develop into the Rockets point guard of the future.
Al Thornton continues to impress playing his rugged, fearless brand of basketball. His ability to run the court as well as crash the glass makes him extremely versatile. He also benefited from the presence of Chris Kaman who’s probably the best bigman in summer league now that Greg Oden is out with tonsillitis. Kaman finished with 14 points, his presence seems odd since he’s older and established, but this makes for a good setting to work on specific aspects of his game.
Carl Landry had 14 points on 7-12 and was the recipient of Brooks passes, one of which was a perfect lob in the fourth quarter for a dunk.