By Rick Fois
A lot of excitement surrounds the NBA Summer League this year, after a couple of years without big stars coming out of the draft, this year’s draft changed everything causing a sold out session on the first day. The level of games in general has been a lot better. In past years the Summer League was viewed by the players as more pick up games to show their skills. But now many teams are sending their head coaches like Kerr and Blatt, and prime level staff along with their teams. The result is that the games are much more competitive and enjoyable, the ball moves a lot more and they’re doing more implementing of the defensive and offensive concepts that fans will see for their teams during the year.
Player of the Day:
Gary Harris blew up for a day high 33 points in the Nuggets win over Toronto showing that he may have slipped a little further than he should have to the 19th pick. Harris went 10-for-17 from the floor, including 5-for-10 from 3 and 8-for-9 from the line, filling the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. He should be one of the more productive rookies this year with a chance to start in Denver at the shooting guard position.
The "Brazilian Freak", Bruno Caboclo was possibly the most eagerly anticipated player of the Summer League for the mystery that surrounds the Raptors pick. We learned that he had a promise with Toronto at 20 and they definitely had to pick him because the Spurs at 30 and the Mavs at 34 would have. So the criticism surrounding GM Masai Ujiri is moot in terms of possibly getting him in the early 2nd round. Everybody was waiting to see just what kind of skill set he possesses and how ready he is. And the kid responded and showed he has some serious game. He’s a legitimate wing player, and his body looks like a puppy, with huge hands and gangly arms and legs. It will be interesting to see how his body develops. His length is phenomenal and makes him a defensive nightmare for anybody to score on him. While he is not nearly the athlete that the Greek Freak is, Bruno has an incredible natural talent. He can create off the dribble to get to the rim, but also to shoot over the defenders very similar the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Caboclo can really shoot. Overall he has looked like a strong pick by Masai Ujiri based on his first two games. His upside makes him very intriguing, though he’ll likely need some time to become a contributor.
Disappointment of the Day
That’s an easy one for the first today. Noah Vonleh went for 0 points in 32 minutes with a 0/13 from the floor, which sums up his struggles. He moved around the floor well but numbers don’t lie and his impact on the game was bad even defensively. For the 9th overall pick, it was a night to forget.
For all the hype that surrounded the Andrew Wiggins–Jabari Parker game, the two players didn’t disappoint at all, leaving the fans in the stands very excited. Wiggins upside was certainly on display with many flashes: offensively he had problems in creating for himself, though he has to shoot the ball better and take better shots until his mechanics improve. But his explosiveness is something rare to see and defensively he seemed more than ready. Parker was prepared to be the first offensive option for the Bucks, played mature, was consistent. He had no problem scoring in different situations. He scored around the rim, made his shots, and looked, as expected, ready to be the leader in the ROY race next year.
Dante Exum: the second most mysterious man in Las Vegas is the Australian Guard and we had to wait until day 2 to finally watch him live. For those wondering if he is a PG or a SG, the real answer is that he can be successful at either position and Utah fans have a lot to be excited about. His first step is great, very quick and he goes by people easily. He had some nice finishes yesterday under and above the rim, which was one of the concerns for him prior to the draft. He definitely showed that he has a good feel for the game and will be perfect playing next to Burke. Defensively he had some problems and he will struggle against pretty much every SG in the league until his body becomes stronger and more mature. Considering it was his first competitive game in over 6 months, plus the normal time to adapt to a new reality I would imagine he would look better and better as the games go by.
Tim Hardaway Jr: the Knicks guard has dominated the first two games scoring the ball like few others. He is shooting the ball well from outside and he is getting to the rim really easily scoring and getting fouled. He already had big games in the league last year and defiantly he seems more mature in his game taking advantage of his athleticism.
Jordan Clarkson: Another huge surprise of day 1, he literally took over in his first game with the Lakers. After a sloppy start he changed completely page and showed great change of speed, attacking the basket under control with strength, shooting the ball from outside and creating for his teammates as well. He looked like a real good pick for the Lakers to finally bring some athleticism and some Defense in their backcourt.
Matthew Dellavedova: The Australian PG who went undrafted last year but gained important minutes with the Cavs last season looked like a real floor general. His size and court vision allows him to pick apart defenses from P&R situations. He was able to impact the game against the Bucks with also 9 rebounds and 6 assist making the open shots. He will be a great role players for the new Lebron’s Cavs.
Lorenzo Brown: A professor with the ball in his hands. Had 8 assist and control the pace of his game like a very mature PG. Great size, he shoot the ball well fro outside missing a little to much when getting to the basket but he always gives the impression he has everything under control.
Josh Davis: The San Diego state Forward who went undrafted was a beast in his first game scoring 14 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. He played hard, getting rebounds just because he was out hustling the other players on the floor. Not overly skilled but he know his strengths and took full advantage of them
Russ Smith: started his NBA career exactly how he finished his college one. Not a lot of IQ plays but an incredible athleticism, fearless and able to break down defenses like few others in the country. He destroyed the D-league defense over and over again, grabbing also 9 rebounds and dishing 5 rebounds though he couldn’t save himself from 5 TO.
Shabazz Muhammad: 27 pts and 11 rebounds says are impressive number even when you take 24 shots. Shabazz like he always does played yesterday like he was the World Cup final and gave everything he had, getting rebounds and scoring getting to the rim multiple times using his strong body to protect himself.
Justin Holiday: After a bad first game he exploded with 31 pts and 13 rebounds against Phoenix, including the winning basket with 2 seconds left on an offensive rebound on a Nedovic airball. He was all over the court, looking in great shape, made his shots and kept alive multiple possessions with offensive rebounds.
Tony Snell: the Bulls forward looked very comfortable on the floor. While all the eyes were on the rookie McDermott, Snell shoot extremely well ending up with 27 points and 10/14 from the floor. If he shoots like that, along with his hard working attitude he will develop in a great pick for the Bulls, Taj Gibson style.
Nik Stauskas: he did very well in his first game, 14 pts without even showing his best ability: shooting. He played like a complete player getting to the basket and creating shots for himself and his teammates with no struggles in playing P&R. He showed flashes of potentially being much more than a shooter.
Doug McDermott: was expected for his shooting as well but had a very good overall game, shooting the ball just ok but creating shots for his teammates and opening the floor for them. 5 Rebounds and 4 assist were good numbers with his 10 pts for his first game.
Zach LaVine: played in the backcourt with Alex Shved and was able to show once again flashes of what he could become one day. Few player have his explosiveness and quickness, he is pretty much unstoppable if he has an advantage, but needs to learn how to finish and control his body. In his first game with the Wolves he had 13 points not shooting very well. Not to bad overall for a kid who was in the bench last year at UCLA