Friday, July 30, 2010

Las Vegas Summer League 2010 Awards

Each year following the Summer League - I look deeply at the stats for all players that played over 40 minutes. I call it a "stat audit". Basically I punch in all the numbers to come up with each players per minute efficiency. I then rank the players by their respective positions. I do this so that I can make up my OWN mind about what happened at Vegas (as opposed to being force fed what PR machines and monopolized media tell me.)

Every team is trying to take the positive route with their draft picks and they all will tell you that their picks played well. But of course, everything is relative and there is no shortage of teams and players in Vegas to compare your guys to.

In respect only to the games that were played in Las Vegas, the numbers do not lie. The sample size of minutes played is very small so it is important to never read too much into summer numbers. The data is simply one more piece to the overall puzzle.

What did the audit reveal? The usual. Without fail - efficiency wins ball games. The summer version of the Raptors was the most efficient team and they went 5-0.

DeMarcus Cousins was given a "T-Mobile Rookie of the Month Award" before the games at Vegas had concluded. (John Wall should have won.) Cousins' .410 EFR for the six games he played in - ranked behind rookie Centers Solomon Alabi, and Jerome Jordan. ...You may have also heard that Harvard guard Jeremy Lin was All-World at the LVSL. Actually - he was just very good. He finished as the seventh highest rated Point Guard which is good but not "All-World". Whatever the case - Lin was signed (smartly) by Golden State - which is sure to sell tickets. Asian pride will represent.

Best player on the best team: Bobby Brown – Toronto. …The Raptors went 5-0 and Brown was their most efficient player (.708); posting averages of 12 points (on ridiculously good .676 FG %), and four assists per game. Brown had 20 assists and just seven turnovers while shooting 89%FT for his five games played.


First Team All Las Vegas Summer League  


PG: Ty Lawson – Denver. …Lawson had the highest efficiency rating for the LVSL at .746. The Nuggs went 4-1 with Lawson scoring 16 ppg, and dishing five assists per game on 58% FG.

SG: Coby Karl – Denver. …Karl scored 14 ppg, with six rebounds, and three assists per game. He shot 40% from three. His team was 4-1. 

SF: DeMar DeRozan (pictured) – Toronto. …DeRozan’s Raptors were unbeaten with DeRozan posting the highest EFR among SF’s. DeRozan scored 21.5 ppg on 58%FG, with 4.5 rebounds per contest.

PF: Joey Dorsey – Toronto. …Dorsey is the KING of Summer League. This year: unbeaten again at 5-0 with averages of seven points and ten boards per game. Dorsey is 11-1 for his LVSL career.

C: JaVale McGee – Washington. …McGee scored 19.5 points per game (on 69% FG) while grabbing 9.5 rebounds per run. The Wizards were 4-1.


Second Team All Las Vegas Summer League:

PG: John Wall (pictured) – Washington. …Wall’s .643 EFR was third to only Lawson and Brown. Wall scored 23.5 points per game and dished 7.8 assists. 38% FG and 5.3 turnovers per game was the only downside. He was the official LVSL MVP.

SG: Landry Fields – New York. …Fields numbers (rounded up) were 16 points (53% FG), five rebounds, and two steals per game.

SF: Curtis Withers – D League Select. …Withers’ .542 EFR was 2nd best among Small Forwards. He averaged 13 points (51% FG), eight boards, and two assists.

PF: Othello Hunter – Denver. …Hunter showed he had the hands to play with Lawson. Hunter shot 62% FG while scoring 13 ppg. He added six boards and a blocked shot per contest.

C: Solomon Alabi – Toronto. The 7’1” BIG MAN averaged eight points, five boards and one blocked shot per game on great shooting numbers: FG .565, FT .938.


Top five players per position by efficiency. …78 minutes played minimum.

Point Guards: Ty Lawson .746, Bobby Brown .708, John Wall .643, John Lucas III .634, Lester Hudson .577


Shooting Guards: Coby Karl .602, Landry Fields .600, Aubrey Coleman .600, Sam Young .594, Reggie Williams (pictured) .541


Small Forwards: DeMar DeRozan .686, Curtis Withers .542, Ronald DuPree .505, Trey Gilder .491, Marqus Blakely .473


Power Forwards: Joey Dorsey .675, Othello Hunter .629, Tyler Wilkerson .598, Ed Davis .587, Alade Aminu .571


Centers: JaVale McGee .716, Solomon Alabi .587, Patrick O’Bryant .575, Hasheem Thabeet .545, Jordan Hill .538.

They didn’t play well: Here is a list of the five lowest efficiency ratings of guys that played at least 78 minutes: Donald Sloan – SAC .013, Josh Carter – N.O. .060, Trey Johnson – LAC .086, Ibrahim Jaaber – LAL .122., Richard Roby – DEN .147



They did well with the minutes they were given... Here are the top seven efficiency ratings of those who played between 40-77 minutes: Ekene Ibekwe (pictured) – POR .690, Jermareo Davidson – ATL .679,
Richard Hendrix – ATL .676 (Second straight year Hendrix has been in this category. Give the man some playing time!), Leo Lyons – NYK .635, Dwayne Mitchell – S.A. .615, Reyshawn Terry – POR .614, Marcus Landry – NYK .608.

See the entire stat audit here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Buzzer beater ends summer league

A fantastic 2010 NBA Las Vegas Summer League ended Sunday with a buzzer beating game winner by Mark Tyndale to give the D-League Select Team their first LVSL victory. That it came against the Clippers matters not. The D-Leaguers played with pride and showed that a bunch of guys with less natural talent can and will beat younger players that are either raw, undisciplined, or both.

The Player of the Day for the final afternoon of action was Luke Babbitt (pictured). The first round pick acquired by the Blazers from the T-Wolves for Martell Webster scored 22 points (6-8 FG, 8-8 FT), with four steals, four rebounds, and three assists in 31 minutes. The summer Blazers beat the summer Bulls 83-69.

I caught three quarters of the Kings matchup with the summer Mavs at Cox Pavillion. I left with time remaining in the late third quarter because the game was over. Dallas was whipping Sac by 35 and outside of Sylven Landesberg, and Conner Atchley - the Kings looked super-tired. 

And they should have looked that way... It was their sixth game in seven days.

I will post more detailed thoughts on each Kings summer player once I review their final total stats for the week but I can offer a few quick thoughts. ...Being able to see these games LIVE and in person was a treat and also very helpful for me in evaluating players. A slim frame on a player can be overlooked if a talent/efficiency level is through the roof. But if the talent is jut good or even very good - the slight frame dooms a player as a NBA prospect. With that said - I've always been a fan and supporter of Lee Cummard but unfortunately for Lee - seeing him live against NBA bodies dims the enthusiasm level I've had. Cummard is simply too slight. 

I thought Landesberg was outstanding at getting to the hoop - just as he showed at Virginia. He has a feel for the game that belies his 20 years on earth. He was also efficient in college for his position. He has NBA level athletic ability. I hope the Kings sign him and develop him. He is too talented, young and efficient to let get away.
Conner Atchley is a smart player. He really understands help defense and I think he gets the most out of his God-given ability. However - I still don't see Atchley making a differnce in an NBA game. 

Donald Sloan is not a Point Guard and he did not show enough to me to warrant any further look. ...I thought Tyrese Rice was the best among the trio of little guards the Kings had that included Sloan, and Devan Downey

Dionte Christmas (pictured) plays hard. I'm not sure he will ever crack the NBA as a rotation player though. 

Wayne Chism is a guy that I would surely invite to training camp (if not outright signing for a year at the minimum). He is a tough, team player that also has just enough skill to make him worthwhile. He can score a little down low and I love that he brought his body-sacrificing game with him. He will take charges with the best on any level. Throw in his ability to hit a three-point shot as a Power Forward and you have a young guy that would be a potentially nice addition.

Ryan Thompson goes to the hole strong and I would invite him to training camp to see more. However - his jumper is not good enough right now and his pacing relative to the NBA game is not where it needs to be. He seems to be in fifth gear the entire game. Basketball requires changing speeds  and gears. Sometimes the best play is the play you do not make. And I think Jason Thompson's little brother needs to learn that. 

By the way - Jason Thompson looks great. Here in Vegas to support his brother and former Rider teammate, JT looks noticeably bigger in his upper body.

Our All Las Vegas Summer League Final Day Team (with game efficiency rating): PG: Jeremy Lin - DAL .894, SG: Dominique Jones - DAL .916, SF: Babbitt - POR .935, PF: Alade Aminu - ATL .789, C: Sean Williams - MIL .900. Bench: Guards: Gary Neal - SA .851, Wayne Ellington - MIN .600. Forwards: David Monds - CLE .709, Al Faroqu Aminu - LAC .678, Tyler Wilkerson - SA .666, Ekene Ibekwe - POR .666. Center: Randolph Morris - ATL .684.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saturday Vegas report. Samb is the man.

Cheikh Samb was our Player of the Day for Saturday at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. The Toronto big man scored 17 points with six rebounds, and seven blocked shots! He helped the summer Raptors remain unbeaten - concluding their Vegas run at 5-0. 


Our All LVSL Day Nine Team (with game efficiency rating): PG: Toney Douglas - NYK .666, SG: Mark Tyndale - DLS 1.000, SF: Omri Casspi - SAC .875, PF: Leo Lyons - NYK .952, C: Samb - NYK 1.238. Bench: Guards: Derrick Byars - CHI .650, Kevin Palmer - WA .647, Forwards: Trey Gilder - ATL .857, Ronald DuPree - TOR .857, Curtis Withers - DLS .821, Dante Cunningham - POR .814. Center: Patrick O'Bryant - MIN .888. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Still learning. Vegas lends clarity?

I am still learning basketball. ...Yes, I  said it. I do not know it all. 

I never thought that I did - although I'm quite sure my blogs come off very cocky to many who are actually employed by NBA clubs. My passion for basketball coupled with an obsessive personality can be easily confused for over-confidence in basketball knowledge. 

I am a FREAK. I study numbers - even on vacation. I've been doing this all of my adult life from the day I stumbled onto the TENDEX Efficiency Rating system. 

But I am still learning.

In recent years - I've accepted that efficiency isn't everything. I've looked closer at personalities, and body-types. I've come to have a better respect for defensive minded players. 

I know that Summer League is just that; a setting where the majority of players are in their first or second year.  That said, it was good to be reminded yesterday by Geoff Petrie, Sacramento Kings President of Basketball Operations that, "it's just summer league".

True. 

Teams ARE experimenting. I guess I just feel strongly that some teams are wasting time (which is not efficient) trying to see if player X can play position Y.  NBA executives at the highest levels often have not had the time to examine non-NBA players closely. They are too consumed with the grind of their own NBA team.
It is understandable.

My wish is for a team to have enough trust in a guy like me who can tell them, with a high degree of accuracy, that player X is not capable of playing position Y in the Association. I know this because I've watched the player and have meticulously scoured his career numbers.

Is the past always a predictor of the future? No. But if a guy had more turnovers than assists on a good team in his Senior year in the Big 12, I'll safely advise that the cat is not a Point Guard. It matters not what his size is or if he can dribble like Curly Neal. 

That is just one simple example.

I've been obsessing over the NBA since 1985. Twenty-five years later, as a married man with no children and a limited work schedule (TV - auto racing), I'm at a point where basketball player efficiency/evaluation is second nature to me. I simply do not have distractions that the average man my age does.

I've often wondered if I could hang with NBA personnel when it comes to evaluating talent. I'm confident now - even more so - after attending this Summer League that I can. I overheard some seriously questionable sentences uttered from the mouths of NBA coaches, and front office types while I was here. There are players playing way out of position. There are players with skill, and talent that are not playing while scrubbier guys are getting minutes.

This is the problem.

In my mind - I already KNOW certain things about players that some NBA teams are still trying to figure out. Because I'm just some Joe Blogger in the view of Mr. NBA Guy, I am dismissed as nothing more than a weird fan.

Maybe someday someone other than (one unnamed NBA executive) will recognize that I actually know more about domestic talent aged 18-35 than a fair percentage of those employed. 

I would be cheaper than the wasted money on high picks that I knew would be busts. Not to mention that every time a team screws up a pick or a free agent signing they are just agonizingly prolonging their ineptitude. I'm not hard to get along with. I listen. And I would only speak up when I was overly confident that the team was about to do something really dumb (like draft Reece Gaines, or Antoine Wright, or Mardy Collins).

There are guys here in Vegas that could be on NBA teams right now.  Kyle Hines (the best offensive rebounding forward here), Richard Hendrix, Pooh Jeter, and Marqus Blakely are guys that most likely will join the long list of players that we have said would succeed in the NBA while others thought we were wrong, or sometimes even crazy.

Anyone can spot the obvious talents. My specialty is finding that guy that can help a team and at the same time be a bargain relative to the NBA pay scale. Our latest successes reflect how much better we've become at talent evaluation. We were ahead of the game by leaps and bounds on Steph Curry, Ty Lawson, Joakim Noah, Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, Carl Landry, Wes Matthews, and Marc Gasol to name a few.

As my wife reminded me - no one else is going to do my "public relations". So forgive me for for patting myself on the back and cheerleading in this blog tonight.

I just want a paying gig for my basketball jones. That is all. As James Brown said, "I don't want nobody to give me nothin'. Open up the door. I'll take it myself."



McGee living up to his promise in LV Summer ball

JaVale McGee was our Player of the Day for Friday at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. The Washington Wizards Center is a beast of a physical specimen, standing 7'0" and now weighing a guesstimated 275 lbs. He has a terrific combination of power and finesse, and those qualities have benefited from playing alongside rookie phenom John Wall. Wall is getting the ball to McGee in all the right positions. McGee posted 29 points (13-16 FG), while snatching eight rebounds (five offensive) in the Wizards dramatic come from behind win over New Orleans at Cox Pavilion.

Lester Hudson hit a game winner as time expired for the Wiz. The final score was 90-89. 

Our All Las Vegas Summer League Team for day eight (with game efficiency rating): PG: Wall - WA .722,  SG: Wayne Ellington - MIN .647, SF: Landry Fields - NYK .857, PF: Kyle Hines - NO .964, C: McGee - WA .911. Bench: Guards: DeMar DeRozan - TOR .611, Maurice Ager - NO .593. Forwards: Greg Monroe (pictured)- DET .939, Samardo Samuels - CHI .760, Jeff Adrien - MEM .750. Centers: Jerome Jordan - NYK .857, Ed Davis - TOR .758.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday Las Vegas Summer League owned by Young and Thabeet

He struggled in his rookie season with Memphis but he did play better toward the end of the 2009-10 season and now Hasheem Thabeet has carried that momentum into the Las Vegas Summer League. Thabeet helped the Grizzlies to a 101-85 beatdown of the D-League Select team Thursday. Thabeet went koo-koo with 21 points (7-8 FG, 7-9 FT), 14 rebounds, and six blocked shots in 31 minutes.  Normaly those numbers would be good for Player of the Day honors. However, Thabeet's Memphis teammate Sam Young (pictured) was even better. 

Young was our Player of the Day for Thursday as he led Grizz with 35 points (12-17 FG, 11-13 FT) seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots in 33 minutes.

The rest of our BasslineSpin NBA Las Vegas Summer League All Day Seven Team (that's a title huh?) goes like this: PG: Zabian Dowdell - PHX .645, SG: Young - MEM 1.151, SF: Cartier Martin - WA .709, PF: Richard Hendrix - ATL .950, C: Thabeet - MEM 1.129. Bench: Guards: Dominique Jones - DAL .764, Reggie Williams (pictured) - GSW .684. Forwards: Tyler Wilkerson - SA .928, Andre Brown - GSW .875, Kim Tillie - GSW .642. Centers: Omar Samhan - DAL .750, JaVale McGee - WA .692.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday's Summer League stars; Hickson, Lucas, Plaisted, Cousins, & Gilder

The Player of the Day in Las Vegas Wednesday was J.J. Hickson who went ballistic for the Cavs with 34 points (12-19 FG, 10-13 FT) and nine rebounds.  The athletic Power Forward who is legal to place a wager in Vegas at age 21 was dominant in the Cavs 93-82 win over the summer Suns. 


We watched in the stands among the Kings brass as Sacramento rallied late to defeat the Timberwolves 79-78. DeMarcus Cousins (pictured) had his best game of the LVSL to date - positing a game EFR of .800. Cousins had 22 points, 12 boards, and five assists - leading the Kings in each category (Tyrese Rice also had five assists). 


While it was fun to see Cousins show off - I was disappointed in a couple things for Sac. First, and foremost - Donte Greene was being guarded by Lazar Hayward who is at least four, maybe five inches shorter - but Greene never dragged Hayward into the post and demanded the ball. Greene, if he is ever to establish himself as a CONSISTENT pro, must change his game to inside-out, rather than outside-in. Greene can realistically be a match-up nightmare but much of that is on him. He has to recognize when he has a physical edge and then he needs to place himself in position to take advantage. 


My second disappointment of Wednesday's Kings game was the tendency I've noticed for Omri Casspi to not share the ball. Pass that thing Omri! If a teammate is out in front of you - give up the pill. The fun police may have to arrest Casspi soon if he doesn't start sharing the sugar. 


Our BasslineSpin Las Vegas Summer League All Day Six Team (with game efficiency rating). PG: John Lucas III - CHI .962, SG: DeMar DeRozan - TOR .772, SF: Trey Gilder - ATL .772, PF: Hickson - CLE .970, C: Cousins - SAC .800. Bench: Guards: Ish Smith - HOU .730, Toney Douglas - NYK .652, Alonzo Gee - SA .647. Forwards: Trent Plaisted - CHI .952, Jordan Hill - HOU .718, Centers: Garrett Siler - MIA .772, Solomon Alabi - TOR .750.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Athletes abound. ...Summer League notebook - day five.

Notes from Tuesday’s NBA Las Vegas Summer League games. ...Ty Lawson (pictured at left) was schooling. He put on a Point Guard clinic - getting anywhere he wanted to go. If left open - he made shots. Lawson's 18 points, three rebounds, and four assists came in just 20 minutes as Denver waxed Chicago 99-71.  Lawson's Nuggets have yet to lose, bettering their mark to 4-0.

One player I didn’t know much about at all that has impressed me is Shane Edwards of the summer Nuggets. He runs the floor and finishes very well.

D.J. Strawberry impressed me Tuesday in the Las Vegas Summer League with his ability to apply pressure as a defender. He is a menace. ...Likewise the Kings’ Hassan Whiteside is having an impact by either blocking or changing opponents shots. ...I loved Wayne Chism stepping up to take a charge, just as he routinely did at Tennessee. ...Pooh Jeter looked like a certified NBA Point Guard Tuesday. His shot has improved and he already has the ability to run a team.

It’s too bad I never hear anything good about Joey Dorsey’s work ethic because the guy is a highly efficient BIG. I can’t remember the last time a summer team with Dorsey in the middle lost a game.

…We have watched 35 summer league contests from Orlando or Vegas in the last nine days.

Our Player of the Day for day five of the Las Vegas Summer League was DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors sophomore tore it up with 23 points (10-15 FG), and five rebounds in just 20 minutes - helping his team beat the summer Rockets 100-91. DeRozan is among the best athletes participating in Las Vegas but there is no shortage of high flying cats.

Rookie Terrico White - who is balling with the Pistons - sports a 40” vertical jump (and a sickening 3.7% body fat). Were we fielding a track team out of the athletes in Vegas - our club would have to include Ronald Dupree, DeRon Washington, Eric Bledsoe, Sonny Weems, and J.R. Giddens. Sprinters might be Roddy Beaubois, Ish Smith, John Wall, and Darren Collison.

Our “All Day Five Las Vegas Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Ty Lawson - DEN 1.000, SG: Mark Tyndale - DLS .739, SF: DeRozan - TOR 1.15, PF: Larry Sanders - MIL .764, C: Dorsey - TOR 1.142. Bench: Guards: Bobby Brown - TOR .814, John Lucas III - CHI .727, Aubrey Coleman - NO .678, Forwards: Tasmin Mitchell - CLE .789, Othella Hunter - DEN .700. Centers: DeMarcus Cousins - SAC .677, Courtney Sims - LAL .677.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Arrogance, ignorance or stupidity?

Is it arrogance, ignorance or stupidity that makes NBA teams play players out of position? The Clippers come into question for trotting out Eric Bledsoe as a Point Guard, and Al-Faroqu Aminu as a Small Forward in summer league play.

Even Clipper Daryl (pictured at right) knows that a player’s height and weight cannot be the only determining factor in where a player should be positioned on the floor. Bledsoe has the stature of a PG but his ability to run a team is beyond suspect. He is a risky passer, and as such, he is turnover prone like crazy. He is not a PG now - and I have serious concerns about whether he ever will be effective at that spot. He does throw some highlight reel passes and he has vision but that is not what running a team is all about. In fact, I would say, in many cases, it is about what you DO NOT do as a Point Guard that can make your team successful. A real PG doesn’t try for the spectacular and blazing fast play as much as he sets up his teammates with solid, simple passes.

Bledsoe is an amazing athlete - and I think he has a nice future in the NBA. But for right now - he needs to be playing alongside someone who can facilitate for the good of the team. Likewise - Aminu simply has very limited Small Forward skills. His body type is perfect for the position but he is an inconsistent outside shooter and his ball-handling is much more effective from ten feet and in than it is with him on the wing.

Finally - while I’m picking on the Clippers summer team - why isn’t Blake Griffin playing? Why is DeAndre Jordan being asked to do anything other than rebound and block shots? And why in the world did Marqus Blakely not get any playing time Monday?

Our Player of the Day for day four of the Las Vegas Summer League was Scottie Reynolds. The undrafted Villanova All-American scored 16 points (4-6 FG, 6-6 FT), with three assists, and two boards in just 19 minutes for the summer Suns.

Our “All Day Four Las Vegas Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Reynolds - PHX .947, SG: Landry Fields - NYK .826, SF: Omri Casspi - SAC .750, PF: Richard Hendrix - ATL .809, C: Darryl Watkins - SA .545. Bench: Guards: John Wall (pictured at left) - WA. .678, J.R. Giddens - DAL .678, Deron Washington - MIL .620. Forwards: Darrell Arthur - MEM .807, Patrick Ewing Jr. - NYK .666, Alade Aminu - ATL .666. Center: Sean Williams - MIL .526.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Free agents; who's left? Plus day three Vegas stars

Now that the major free agents have signed with their respective teams for the 2010-2011 season - we are left wondering - who is left? Here’s a quick breakdown of a handful of players we consider to be the best of the available lot.

You start with Nate Robinson. “Little Nate” (pictured at left) is a competitive guy that also happens to be a skilled NBA quality athlete. He is just 26 years old and is already ranked among the top 25 Point Guards in the NBA by per-minute efficiency.

I’m not a believer in signing a hurt guy or a guy coming off an injury so I would begrudgingly turn the other cheek on Al Harrington. But as a disclaimer I want to say that, if healthy (he had shoulder surgery at end of 2010 regular season), he would be the second choice over here behind Robinson as far as what is left.

Luke Ridnour has to be near the top of any remaining free-agent list. Ridnour had a fantastic 2009-10 season in Milwaukee where he rated 13th in PG efficiency.

Off the beaten path - if you wanted to gamble a bit - I like a few players that are basically still unproven in the NBA. Chief among the unproven lot is Ian Mahinmi who spent time with the Spurs and their D-League affiliate. Mahinmi’s efficiency is ‘through the roof’ but in a very small sample size. He could potentially be THE steal of free-agency if he can maintain his ridiculous NBA EFR of .738. His D-League EFR is also a potent .711.

Kyle Hines (pictured at right) is a Power Forward that was undrafted in 2008. He is only 6’6” which scares NBA personnel off. However - Hines has the shoulders of Atlas, the Greek God - coupled with a wingspan that actually is two inches longer than Kevin Love’s wingspan, and a two and a half inches longer than Darrell Arthur’s. Both Love and Arthur were drafted in 2008 as Power Forwards. Hines should have been drafted. Of course, if I like him - he is also efficient. As a matter of fact, Hines is one of six players in the history of the NCAA to score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and block 300 shots. The others? Alonzo Mourning, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Derrick Coleman, and Pervis Ellison.

The next less obvious choice is a bit more of a “Hail Mary”. Why not take a good look at Aaron Gray? Gray’s EFR of .598 ranked 14th among all NBA Centers last regular season. Again, the sample size is small but Gray (25) put up similar efficiency numbers in college.

He is the classic undersized post man but Craig Smith (pictured at left) has been efficient his entire career. He can score and rebound and youth is still on his side at age 26. Smith rated 24th at Power Forward efficiency in 2009-10.

The next gamble would be to give some money to Shaun Livingston, the tall-skinny Point Guard who returned from a devastating knee injury to play reasonably well at the end of the regular season. Livingston is still only 24 years old.

Speaking of the oft-injured there is always Ike Diogu to turn to. Big Ike has yet to establish himself in the NBA but there is no question he can get it done offensively.

Okay—enough with hurt guys. I have grown to enjoy Louis Amundson’s hustle game. Lou is 27 years old and in my book is the perfect guy to be that first BIG off the bench. I wouldn't break the bank for Amundson but if the price is right - this guy will reward a team with energy and enthusiasm.

Five more for consideration: Patrick O’Bryant (pictured at right)  - efficient in minor minutes at age 24), Anthony Tolliver (a 25 year-old that would be a good BIG off the bench), P.J. Tucker (beefy power-guard that understands the game but is unproven in the NBA), Dominic James (former Marquette Point Guard has always impressed me as a team runner), and rookie Marqus Blakely (will play with the Clippers this summer.)

Day three of the Las Vegas Summer League included the debut of John Wall. However, the Player of the Day by efficiency was Ekene Ibekwe. Ibekwe, playing for the summer Blazers, came off the bench to score ten points (4-5 FG, 2-2 FT), grab eight boards, and block five shots in just 20 minutes.

Our “All Day Three Las Vegas Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Ty Lawson - DEN .939, SG: Reggie Williams - GSW .794, SF: Coby Karl - DEN .777, PF: Ibekwe - POR 1.200, C: Javale McGee - WA .838. Bench: Guards: Patty Mills - POR .814, Toney Douglas - NYK .771, Kenny Hasbrouck - MIA .656, Wall - WA .606. Forwards: Othella Hunter - DEN .625, Landry Fields - NYK .615, Center: Jarvis Varnado - MIA .526.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

We are hearing that Portland offered Wes Matthews (pictured at right) a five-year contract at close to 34 million dollars. We were ahead of the game on Matthews when we listed him as a draft pick on our 2009 Big Board. He went un-selected but made the Utah Jazz team as a free-agent. 

The second day of the Las Vegas Summer League was forgettable with three of the four games being blowouts. It also was a bummer for Brian Butch. The former Wisconsin BIG suffered a graphically ugly knee injury that was initially diagnosed as a dislocated patella tendon. Butch was taken off the court on a stretcher.

Our Player of the Day for Saturday was NBA veteran guard Bobby Brown. His summer Raptors dismantled Phoenix 103-69. Brown had eleven points (5-6 FG), six assists, and three boards in 21 minutes. He looked totally at ease with ball in his hands and he did whatever he wanted to do against the hapless Suns. It says here that as long as the summer Suns keep featuring Earl Clark - they will not win a LV Summer League contest. In hindsight, Steve Kerr’s draft that yielded Clark, and Taylor Griffin was pretty much a waste of two picks.

Our “All Day Two Las Vegas Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Ty Lawson - DEN .741, SG: Brown - TOR .857, SF: DaJuan Summers - DET .640, PF: Othella Hunter - DEN .750, C: Ed Davis - TOR .800. Bench: Guards: Roddy Beaubois - DAL .676, Devin Ebanks - LAL .428, Forwards: Kim Tillie - GSW .700, Ronald Dupree - TOR .600, Andre Brown - GSW .523, Centers: Joey Dorsey - TOR .684, Omar Samhan - DAL .666.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paul Davis, Patrick Patterson star in Friday summer action.

You just never know what you will see in the Summer League. Friday I saw Pistons’ Trainer Mike Abdenour receive two technical fouls and get himself ejected from the Detroit/Lakers summer matchup from Vegas.

Orlando’s eight team Summer League wrapped up Friday. The Player of the Day for day five of the Orlando Summer League was Paul Davis. The former Michigan State BIG scored 24 points, and snatched eight rebounds in just 24 minutes, helping Orlando to an 80-77 win over Charlotte. It was the Magic’s only win of the five-game week.

Our “All Day Five Orlando Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Curtis Stinson - ORL .735, SG: P.J. Tucker - CHA .576, SF: Stanley Robinson - ORL .520, PF: Derrick Favors (pictured at left) - NJ 1.035, C: Davis 1.160. Bench: Guards: Mustafa Shakur - OKC .689, Sherron Collins - CHA .685, Russell Robinson - IND .607. Forwards: Ryan Reid - OKC .826, Jeremy Evans - UTA .800, Conner Atchley - NJ .740. Center: Jermario Davidson - UTA .952.

Meanwhile there were four games played on the opening day of the Las Vegas Summer League. Our Player of the Day for the LV Summer League was Houston Rockets rookie draft choice Patrick Patterson. He scored 18 points on 8-9 field goal shooting with zero turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench. The Summer Rockets beat the Summer Suns 100-82.

Our “All Day One Las Vegas Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Dontaye Draper - DEN .700, SG: Jermaine Taylor - HOU .888, SF: Shane Edwards - DEN .809, PF: Patterson - HOU .950, C: Jordan Hill - HOU .739. Bench: Guards: Richard Roby - DEN .800, Coby Karl - DEN .733, Forwards: Mouhammad Faye - DAL .761, Austin Daye - DET .758, Marty Leunen - HOU .750, Rob Kurz - LAL .750. Center: Derrick Caracter .666.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Today's message; P.J. Tucker should be in the NBA. ...Plus Day Four ballers at Orlando

Among the under-hyped players in the Orlando Summer League, we like former Texas standout, P.J. Tucker. I’m not his agent. I’m not affiliated with him in any way. I just think he should be in the NBA. He was the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2006 but he has spent the majority of his professional career overseas. He plays extremely hard and he has the body to match that physical style. He is 6’6” 225 lbs and he has been labeled as an “undersized post”. That actually is a bullshit label. If you watch him play—he demonstrates guard skills just as easily as many of the more heralded young players that also do not yet have NBA ready jump shots. The biggest thing with Tucker is that he knows how to play and is capable of making plays. Forget his size. He rebounds better than many Power Forwards, and he moves his feet as well as your average NBA Shooting Guard.

The Player of the Day for day four of the Orlando Summer League was Oklahoma City guard Mustafa Shakur who helped his team keep the Orlando summer entry winless with a 80-78 victory. Shakur scored 21 points (6-10 FG, 7-8 FT) while grabbing five boards, and dishing five assists in 30 minutes.

Our “All Day Four Orlando Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Shakur - OKC 1.068, SG: Donell Taylor - ORL .916, SF: Tucker - CHA .739, PF: Magnum Rolle - IND .833, C: Kosta Koufos - UTA .894. Bench: Guards: Jaycee Carroll - BOS .680, Joe Crawford - ORL .666, Oliver Lafayette - BOS .531. Forwards: Derrick Brown (pictured at right) - CHA .636, Ndudi Ebi - PHI .636, Luke Harangody - BOS .615, Center: Paul Davis - ORL .727

Do not worry about Miami's roster. ...Day Three Orlando Summer League stars.

Since it is being over-analyzed I will just say quickly that I believe Miami with LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade will be great. The talent pool is deep enough in this day and age to surround those three plus Mario Chalmers with eight guys capable of getting it done.

Now back to what really excites me - which is the actual games being played in the Orlando Summer League. A power outage over here kept us from the DVR and the computer for an agonizing 17 hours. On Friday at 2 am, I just finished watching the final Orlando game of day three (Wednesday). Of interest was Avery Johnson, the Nets new Head Coach accurately stating that Damion James has been their best player so far in Orlando. This despite the Nets having the number three pick overall Derrick Favors on their roster. Favors has shown intermittent flashes of goodness but overall he has struggled.

The Player of the Day for day three was Celtics guard Matt Janning who led his team to a 92-71 beatdown of the Summer Bobcats. The Northeastern product scored 20 points, grabbed eight boards and dished three assists in 25 minutes.

Our “All Day Three Orlando Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Janning - BOS .880, SG: Joe Crawford - ORL .750, SF: Damion James - NJ .735, PF: Josh McRoberts - IND. .774, C: Marreese Speights - PHI .607. Bench: Guards - Othyus Jeffers - UTA .695, Jeremy Pargo - CHA. .650, Ryan Thompson - BOS. .650, Forwards: Luke Harangody - BOS. .600, Paul George - IND. .600, Magnum Rolle (pictured at left) - IND. .600. Center: Byron Mullens - OKC .583.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Too early for judgements in Summer League. Memorable day for Koufos.

Eight games total (two contests for each of the eight teams) into the Orlando Summer League is just enough to remind all that making judgments on a player after one game is never prudent. If all you did was see the games from Monday you may have thought that Oliver Lafayette was a candidate to someday start at Point Guard in the NBA. However - a second game revealed that he could not get anything against Jrue Holiday, a young elite defender. Lafayette was forced into five turnovers and his game EFR was a putrid .045.

Holiday, meanwhile, was our Player of the Day for Monday but 24 hours later his offensive game was horrible. His deep shot was ugly and flat and he had four turnovers on 3-10 FG shooting.

If all you did was watch Monday’s games - you may have thought that Kosta Koufos could NEVER contribute in an NBA game. However if you saw him dominate on Tuesday - your mind would have been changed. Ditto for Jazz second round pick Jeremy Evans (pictured at right, sacrificing his body).

The point is… you have to WATCH the games to really know. And then you need to back up what you think you saw with some data so you don’t get lost in the flair that a player may have.

Paul George looked spectacular at times for the Summer Pacers. He set a Orlando Summer League record for steals in one game with seven! He had some sweet finishes in the open court. But the stat sheet doesn’t lie and George, as good as looked, was only .419 EFR for the game. Why? He was 5-15 FG (0-7 from three) and he had five turnovers. I would be willing to bet most folks never would have thought George was actually just so-so in this game. His flashy athletic game probably had most saying, “Wow! That Paul George was GREAT!”.

Josh McRoberts plays with grit and I appreciate that but a glance at a stat sheet from Tuesday shows that “J-McBob” was not getting it done. He jacked up 18 shots, and made three of them. His game EFR was .090 (about equal to a Milli Vanilli recording). Yikers!

Pacers Head Coach Jim O’Brien showed just how ridiculously old school (and out of touch) he is when he bristled at Rick Kamla referring to Tyler Hansbrough as “Psycho T”. O’Brien said something about not liking nicknames and he came across with the charisma of the late Richard Nixon. This helps me understand a little further why T.J. Ford is not playing up to his known ability. O’Brien clearly does not believe in Ford as he stated publicly on NBA-TV, “We need a point guard and that will solve a lot of problems for us.”

I will repeat again that I strongly believe Ford is worth whatever perceived risk there is. He is said to be available via trade by the Pacers. Ford is in the last year of his contract.

...Notes: Kyle Weaver has clearly improved his outside shooting. That is crucial to his development in OKC because he already is an excellent defender. ...I thought P.J. Tucker outplayed James Harden Tuesday. Tucker is looking for an NBA gig as a bruising post-up Two Guard. He competes on every play and showed that he could keep his man in front of him despite weighing more than the average SG. ...Jeremy Pargo hit a game winner at the buzzer to lift the Summer Bobcats past OKC.

The Player of the Day for day two was Koufos who led his team to a 78-73 win. The former Ohio State Center scored 13 points, grabbed eleven boards and blocked four shots in just 20 minutes.

Our “All Day Two Orlando Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG - Lance Stephenson - IND .600, SG - Gerald Henderson - CHA (pictured at left) .676, SF - Gordon Hayward - UTA .750, PF - James Augustine - UTA .650, C - Koufos - UTA 1.100. Bench: Guards: Jodie Meeks - PHI .586, Eric Maynor - OKC .529. Forwards: Patrick Ewing Jr. .592, Tony Gaffney - BOS. .583, Luke Harangody - BOS .580. Centers - Paul Davis - ORL .652., Marreese Speights - PHI .586.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day One Orlando Summer League efficiency report.

The NBA Summer League in Orlando started play yesterday. There are eight teams represented in the games being shown live on NBA-TV.

The Player of the Day for day one was Jrue Holiday (pictured at left) who led his Summer Sixers past New Jersey 84-74 in the nightcap game. Holiday played the Point Guard position well, scoring 23 points on 8-13 FG, with eight assists and only two turnovers.

Our “All Day One Orlando Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating).

PG - Holiday - PHI. .750, SG - Lance Stephenson - IND .733, SF - Evan Turner - PHI .778, PF - Luke Harangody - BOS. .768 , C - James Augustine - UTA .905. ...Bench: Guards: Terrence Williams - NJ .636, Jerome Randle - ORL .636, James Harden - OKC .571. Forwards - Gordon Hayward - UTA .615, Magnum Rolle - IND .684, Jeff Adrien - ORL .667. Center: Byron Mullens - OKC .697.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Point LeBron? It may be his best position.

Lost in all the talk about where LeBron James may wind up is one other pertinent question. What position does he play?

I’m sure you are like, “Duh. Small Forward, dude.” 

Not so fast Spicoli. 

LeBron has spent the majority of his career as a SF but in a routine check of his birthdate on his NBA.com player profile I noticed something. King James’ three point percentage for his career is just .329 (the last two seasons he knocked in .344 and .333 of his deep shots). Why is that news or noteworthy? We have long believed over here that a crucial element to offensive balance in the NBA is having a THREE man (SF) that can stretch the defense with accurate three-point shooting. Our “rule” is that, among other criteria, an effective SF should shoot 33% from long range at minimum. LeBron is clearly right on that borderline—hitting the 33% exactly this last season, but being slightly below the cut off point for his career. 

We humbly suggest that perhaps LeBron would be more useful to the overall balance of a team if he were playing Point Guard. Why? The absence of James at SF would allow his team to plop a legit, NBA accurate, three-point shooter on the floor. Suddenly - whatever team James is on has a stretched floor that would allow him more room to operate off-the dribble, where he is most dangerous. Overall team size would increase - which would almost certainly lead to a higher rebounding percentage. 

Skeptical of LeBron as a Point Guard? Check the data. LeBron is so skilled that his assist-to-turnover ratio was 2.49 to 1. That is a higher and better ratio than what was posted in the regular season by Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Ty Lawson, Earl Watson, and a slough of other players known as pure Point Guards.  Defensively -  James would overmatch 99.9% of his opponents. I believe even the quickest little PG’s would not bother LeBron that much. He is an elite athlete himself, and even he if was beaten—we all know that he recovers faster and more strongly than any defender in the NBA. 

Obviously - LeBron James playing ANY position on a basketball team would benefit a squad. But we are talking about the NBA, where history has proven that  “inches, fractions and angles matter”. Perhaps those “inches” are a significant factor in why the NBA’s most talented player is still looking for his first championship ring. 

I don’t see a downside to LeBron James being a Point Guard full time. Not only do I not see a downside. I actually think it may be the his best chance to win it all.