By Aran Smith
The top performers of day six were Randy Foye, Arron Afflalo, Javaris Crittenton.
(2-3) San Antonio Spurs 68 – (2-0) Minnesota Timberwolves 79
The Timberwolves rallied to victory behind the perimeter duo of Randy Foye and Rashad McCants and the inside play of Craig Smith.
Scouts are very high on Foye who played well finishing with a game high 22 on 8-19 shooting. Foye knocked down a number of outside shots to help put the game out of reach. He also impressed with his tremendous athleticism exploding to the rim for a dunk. His passing and point guard play is not great, but he can find the open man well enough and run the show, even though he isn’t a traditional PG.
McCants looked good hitting outside shots. Scouts like his ability to defend and think he’s got a chance to finally break out this year. But his lack of consistency and mental focus are what concern people about him. If all the physical problems are behind him, he could finally be ready to contribute.
Corey Brewer shot just 1-10 from the field and finished with 8 points, but a game high 13 boards. He had one nice shot from the top of the key but struggled to create offense for himself. It’s going to be a real adjustment for him offensively without so many talented players drawing the defense away from him as was the case at Florida. One scout told me he doesn’t think Brewer will ever be an all star, but thinks he’ll end up being a solid player.
Craig Smith was a beast inside with 21 points on 7-12 shooting and held Jackie Butler who had been the Spurs most consistent player to just 11 points on 4-7 shooting.
(0-2) Washington Wizards 70 – (3-0) Detroit Pistons 84
It was the battle of guys who should have been taken after Marco Belinelli, with #15 pick Rodney Stuckey squaring off against #16 pick Nick Young.
Arron Afflalo had 21 points showing his high skill level offensively. He showed his aggressiveness driving to the basket getting to the line 17 times, and converting 15. Afflalo has the look of a guy who will play in the league for 10 years. He won’t ever be an all star, but can be a real contributor to a winning team. He looks in better shape than during the season. Preparing for the draft has really helped, as his body looks sleeker and he’s moving quicker.
Stuckey got off to a slow start but finished strong helping the Pistons to their third victory. He’s not a natural point guard but he should be able to play the position within the rotation. His best attribute, besides being a solid passer and very strong mentally, is his ability to get his shot off virtually anytime. He really has a great ability to create offense for himself whether it be off the drive or the pull up off the dribble.
Nick Young bounced back after a terrible first game showing a lot of emotion. He got t’d up after one dunk and eruption. Young is a great kid, but will have to learn to control his emotions as at times he appeared to get frustrated when things weren’t going his way. It’s not at gerald Green levels or anything, but you could see some of the same body language at times, so keeping a level head and not getting down on himself will be key for him. Young finished with a team high 20 for the Wizards.
Oliksey Pecherov had 12 points doing honestly the only thing he does well which is knock down perimeter jumpshots. He appears to be a bigtime bust and it’s questionable if he can ever do anything in the NBA. After being selected 18th last year, he stayed in the Ukraine last season. He has one of the strangest bodies in the NBA, with hunched shoulders and thick legs. He doesn’t appear to have improved at all since he was drafted.
Jason Maxiell might be the best player in the entire summer league. He’s one of the few players with extended NBA experience, and his relentless attacks on the basket have been met with little resistance. His 21 points and 8 boards were just another day at the office for him, and the Pistons have yet to lose at 3-0.
(3-2) Philadelphia 76ers 104 – (0-2) Phoenix Suns 101
Philadelphia got the win behind a great effort from Thaddeus Young and Louis Williams.
Williams continues to impress with his great quickness and body control. His ability to adjust on drives makes him very effective at getting to the rim and finishing. Williams has really improved and appears ready to take on a much bigger role with the Sixers next season.
Thaddeus Young had his biggest game so far with 20 points on 8-16 shooting. He’s been a factor for them during summer league and appears ahead of schedule with his development. He could be a nice contributor for the team this season playing behind Andre Iguodala.
Although Phoenix lost again, their first round pick is looking like a good one as Alando Tucker went for a game high 27 points. He showed a variety of skills and has a chance to contribute right away to one of the deepest and most talented teams in the league. Tucker’s improved jumpshot was also on display as he knocked down a number of outside and midrange shots. Tucker shot 10-19 and hit 8-10 from the line keeping the game close, but Philadelphia was able to prevail in OT.
(0-3) Seattle Supersonics 85 – (1-1) Milwaukee Bucks 92
The summer league lost Greg Oden who is scheduled to have his tonsils removed on the 15th, and was without their second marquee talent Kevin Durant for Wednesday’s game as he was attending the ESPY awards.
With Jeff Green limited to just 8 minutes after sustaining an ankle injury, the talent level was severely depleted.
Lynn Greer and Noel Felix helped lead the Bucks past the Sonic with 19 and 27 respectively.
Durant will be back for the team’s final two games on Friday and Sunday.
(2-1) Boston Celtics 80 – (1-4) Team China 52
Team China had hoped to get another win after beating Cleveland in their 3rd game, but they’ll have be satisfied with just one as their record fell to 1-4 at the hands of the quick and athletic Celtics.
Yi Jianlian struggled once again, as he apparently needs to get more comfortable with the speed and strength of the NBA game. He finished with 7 points on 1-5 shooting. He’s used to being the biggest and best athlete on the court, and in the NBA he won’t be able to rely solely on that. He has a lot of offensive moves, but right now they are unpolished as he is trying to do too much before squaring up to the basket and assessing the defense. Some quality coaching and being more relaxed will help his offensive game considerably.
I spoke with Yi’s agent Dan Fegan again who cleared up his stance with Yi and the Bucks. He told me that the big misconception about going to Milwaukee is that it’s about marketing. I mentioned the fact that a lot of the marketing was happening in China, so I questioned whether it was really that important that Yi be in a major US city. He agreed, saying that the biggest reason for their holdout from Milwaukee was the current team and the lack of an immediate opportunity for Yi. With Bogut, Villanueva, Simmons and Gadzuric all under contract, they are forced to play those guys. And the idea that Yi gets off on the wrong foot could have lasting affects on his career. The stance at this point is hard line and they are threatening to go back to China and re-enter next year’s draft where they feel Yi can be a top 3 pick. According to Fegan, as long as Yi isn’t being paid by a team, he can re-enter the draft next year, so he would play for the Chinese National Team and not for the Guongdong Tigers.
Scouts take on the situation is a little different. Their assessment is that is stems from Yi’s Nike contract. Yi can make a lot more money from Nike if he’s in a larger market. Therefore if he doesn’t blow up between now and his second contract, he will still make the endorsement money from the Nike deal. One scout said he didn’t think re-entering the draft was likely because all the Bucks would have to do to retain his rights would be to tender him a contract. The scout also said he felt Yi would ultimately suit up for the Bucks, as it would send the wrong message about Chinese players if Yi didn’t play this season, and China wants their players in the NBA.
Boston’s PF Leon Powe was too strong for the Chinese players, Yi and Wang scoring 23 and 12 and taking them out of their games offensively.
Although China lost by 28 points, their experience playing in the NBA Summer League was extremely valuable and should help them immensely in the 2008 Olympics.
With the blow out victory came more of an opportunity to see some of China’s younger players. China had 4 players that are under draft age marking the first time the summer league has had draft eligible age players compete. Here are some notes on the 4.
Chen Jianghua — Chen is famous for appearing in a Time magazine article. He looked solid in his debut facing Mike Conley Jr. but unfortunately suffered a bad ankle injury in which he tore some ligaments. He played in the Hoop Summit but failed to impress. This is a kid with a lot of talent, very quick and athletic and has passing ability. One big negative, he was offered the chance to work on his English in China and he started but quit. For a bigman it’s one thing to not be fluent in English in the NBA, but for a point guard it’s virtually impossible. So for Chen, his decision to not learn English is huge. He should rethink it if he really has hopes of playing in the NBa someday.
Zhou Peng — Zhou is a player I had seen over two years in China, he’s listed at 17 years of age, but contacts in China feel he’s probably 18 or 19. He’s likely the next NBA prospect from China after Yi. He lacks Yi’s size and athleticism but at 6-9 he’s a solid small forward prospect. His best attribute is his ability to shoot and his athleticism. He has a very solid face up game, with the ability to handle the ball and his turnaround jump shot is extremely effective. He had a hard time adjusting to the size and speed of the NBA players here, but this was a terrific learning experience for him and he competed which is about all you could ask for considering his age.
Wang Lei — Lei got some quality minutes in the second half and made the most of it. Playing against NBA level competition makes for a great learning experience for these guys. Wang broke free for a nice dunk off a drive in the half court set. He seems to have a great court sense and calm demeanor. He is a versatile forward with the ability to pass, handle and shoot and at just 20 years of age (or so), appears to have some NBA potential. He didn’t get enugh playing time to make a great assesment, but based on the reports from contacts in China, he’s got a real shot to play in the NBA some day.
Liu Xiaoyu — Xiaoyu received limited minutes but is a quick athletic guard with promise. He’s headier than Chen Jianghua but not nearly as quick or athletic. the two both play for the Guongdong Tigers and the team is still trying to figure out which of the two they like better. Liu has the athleticism to get up and dunk the ball in warmups and has solid quickness, but seems a step slow for the NBA.
(2-1) Los Angeles Lakers 81 – (0-3) Portland Trail Blazers 73
After being held scoreless in their last game, Javaris Crittenton started and exploded for 26 points on 10-17 shooting to help lead the Lakers past the winless and Oden-less Blazers.
Jordan Farmar played very well also with 18 points knocking down some outside jumpers and finishing 5-11 from the field.
Coby Karl continues to impress with his solid play. He hit a big three pointer to help put the game out of reach for the Lakers. The son of Coach George Karl has a shot to make the Lakers 15 man roster as he rarely makes mistakes, shows the versatility to play some point guard, and is an excellent outside shooter.