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5Jul/100

Orlando Summer League: Day 1

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Recap

Charlotte Bobcats 85 – Utah Jazz 83

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The first game of the 2010 Summer League was a matchup of teams with fairly unheralded players outside of Gordon Hayward. The Bobcats team did feature former first round selections Gerald Henderson (’09) and Alex Ajinca (’08), 2nd rounder Derrick Brown (‘09), as well as former collegiate star Sherron Collins.

The Bobcats got off to a quick start led by Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown who each scored 20 points. Henderson has shown improvement from his underwhelming rookie season and he seemed determined to have a large impact in the game. Henderson flashed his elite athleticism on an aggressive dunk and an acrobatic layup. The Bobcats front office hopes that this wasn’t just a fluke game against weaker competition, but rather real development in Henderson’s offensive game.

Brown was efficient from the field (6-10 FG, 1-1 3pt, 7-7 FT) and added 5 rebounds and 3 steals. It was a little surprising to see that he ended up with 20 points. It’s hard to believe that the offense Brown showed would easily be replicated during the regular season.

Other notable players Ajinca and Collins had decent games. Unfortunately, Ajinca’s game still appears to be plagued by inconsistency. He finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.

Collins had a good game shooting the ball (3-4 from the field, 1-1 from 3), but I began to wonder if he could keep up defensively and find his teammates regularly. His minutes were limited by fouls and superior play by the roster’s other point guard, Jeremy Pargo. Pargo showed a better ability to set up teammates (5 assists in 20 min.) and was more aggressive offensively than Collins.

The Jazz’s team was headlined by the #9 draft pick, Gordon Hayward. He didn’t have a bad game, but it was great either. Hayward didn’t force anything and just looked like he was trying to get a feel for the game. At times you forgot he was on the floor, but he made a couple of big plays down the stretch. He came up with a great instinctive steal around half court and finished with a dunk. He also had a good drive and kick to Sundiata Gaines for a game-winning three point attempt, but Gaines couldn’t repeat his last second heroics (link).

Overall Gaines had a pretty good game. He struggled from the field (2-8 FG, 7-14 FT), but he didn’t seemed to get too frustrated by it. He also had 5 assists in the 21 minutes he played.

Surprisingly, it was James Augustine who led the comeback effort for the Jazz. He didn’t do much on the boards (just 3 rebounds), but his offense was an unexpected boost for the team. Augustine made 9 of 10 shots and finished with 20 points. Though the comeback fell short, his performance was enough to earn him our title of Unsigned Player of the Day.

Kosta Koufos seemed even more sluggish and unathletic than I remember. He did have 7 rebounds though, but it was more a result of him being 7 feet tall than it was good pursuit of the ball off the rim. Koufos had 4 points (1-4 FG, 2-4 FT).

Tyrese Rice scored 12 points in 13 minutes with just 5 shots, but he contributed literally nothing else. Many teams would like scoring guards off the bench, but unless the Golden State Warriors are interested Rice will likely have to do more than score in the Summer League to get noticed.

Indiana Pacers 86 – Orlando Magic 77

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The second game of the day had both the best (Lance Stephenson) and worst (Daniel Orton) performances of the day. Stephenson clearly outplayed teammate Paul George, who was a lottery pick.

Lance Stephenson was the best player on the court. He shot 8-10 from the floor for 21 points. He also added 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Stephenson started off his day with a Rondo-esque fake behind the back move and layup, and continued to attack the basket. He showed the ability to run the point, and since the Pacers are weak at the position his progression is likely something to keep an eye on.  More on Stephenson’s big day in the Rookie of the Day section

Magnum Rolle also stood out for the Pacers. He had a nice offensive game, scoring well around the basket and showing a good outside touch.  He finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds. Rolle also had great chemistry with Stephenson. The pair connected on 3 easy baskets for Rolle (all three of Stephenson’s assists).

Paul George’s shot wasn’t falling (2-7 FG, 1-5 3PT), but he did a good job of getting to the free throw line (7-7) to make up for his subpar shooting.  Most of his shots came within the flow of the offense so that was a good sign. George’s day was highlighted by a nice and 1 dunk in the open court.

The Magic’s offense was brutal early on, but their scoring picked up in the second half. Their shots were dominated by Patrick Ewing, Jr. who took several ill-advised shots in the first half (1-10 FG), but was better in the second half (4-7). Ewing finished 15 points, but should probably cut back on his field goal attempts because it seemed to disrupt the flow of the offense.

Donell Taylor appeared to be the best player for the Magic. The 6’5’’ shooting guard has spent the last 3 years playing in Greece and the NBDL. He was adept at making plays for himself as well as teammates. Taylor finished 12 points (5-11 FG, 2-4 3PT).

Jerome Randle is an undersized point guard, but today he looked incredibly small. It was probably exaggerated because he was often alongside Stephenson at 6’5’’. Randle was exploited some on defense as Stephenson was able to penetrate at will. Overall, Randle had a decent game. He shot poorly (3-9), but did a good job of running down loose rebounds (6 REB), setting up teammates (5 AST), and hustling on defense (2 steals in the back court). He finished with 8 points.

Daniel Orton probably had the worst first day out of all of the rookies selected in the first round. He struggled in every aspect of the game. He took some bad jump shots and couldn’t convert inside (1-8 FG). He also had 4 turnovers and set 3 illegal screens in the first 4 minutes of the game. Orton was able to block two shots, but he grabbed just 3 rebounds. His frustration got the best of him as he got ejected from the game following a mix up with Josh McRoberts after playing just 13 minutes. Orton would be better off if he immediately forgot his pro debut.

Boston Celtics 82 – Oklahoma City Thunder 87

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The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young organization that takes advantage of every opportunity to get their players more experience. They utilize their D-League affiliate as much as an NBA team, and now they’re giving a number of their up-and-coming players significant playing time in the Summer League. The team features 6th man James Harden, backup point guard Eric Maynor, energetic role player Serge Ibaka, project big man B.J. Mullens, and bench warmer DJ White. All of that young talent was on display against the Celtics as they were able to finish off the game outscoring the Celtics 30-12 in the last 11 minutes of the game.

Harden didn’t shoot great (2-6), but stayed aggressive and racked up the majority of his points from the free throw line (15-18). Interestingly, Harden made a large impact on the game defensively. He managed to get 4 steals and had 2 blocks, including a very important one at the end of the game.

BJ Mullens is the Thunder player that really stood out. He unexpectedly scored the most points of any play in the first day of Summer League action. Mullens scored 24 points on 6-12 shooting and 12-15 from the free throw line. He was also affective rebounding the ball and finished with 7 boards. He missed some easy baskets inside and I question whether he’ll consistently be able to produce like this.

Mullens was the team leader in scoring, but Eric Maynor was probably the Thunder’s most important player. He completely controlled the game offensively. He shot an efficient 7-13 from the field and 1-1 from three for 15 points. He also had 5 assists with just 1 turnover. Most importantly for a point guard Maynor did a great job of dictating the flow of the game and made good decisions.

Serge Ibaka had a decent game, comparable to what we’d expect from him during the season (and he played a similar role). Ibaka had 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 17 minutes. Unfortunately he got injured in the 4th quarter, hopefully it’s nothing serious.

DJ White had a solid game. He scored 13 points with 6 rebounds. Most of his damage offensively came on mid range jump shots off the dribble.

The Celtics got out to an early lead but couldn’t maintain it. Early on they were lead by Oliver Lafayette and Luke Harangody. Lafayette did a good job of setting up his teammates (5 AST) and also scored well (14 PTS). In general he showed a really good feel for the game and instincts for the point guard position. He also did a good job harassing the opposing point guard defensively. It was a little tougher for him in the second half (1-5 FG) and turned the ball over 4 times later in the game.

Harangody played like he was still at Notre Dame, scoring 23 points. He shot the ball extremely well (9-13 FG) and did a great job behind the arc (4-6). When he’s shooting this well his defender can’t even think about helping off of him. He shot the ball without any hesitation and though he lacks NBA level athleticism, as long as he can knock down spot up jump shots he’ll have a role on an NBA team. He would benefit greatly from Rondo’s court vision and penetration.

Art Parakhouski didn’t dominate the game, but everything that he contributed are things that would likely carry over to the NBA level. He rebounded the ball at a very high rate (10 REB in 18 min.). No matter if the shot was on target or not Parakhouski went after it, and that’s the sign of a good rebounder – treat every shot like it’s going to miss. He finished with just 4 points on 4 FGA, but his rebounding and solid post defense are where he left his mark.

Lastly, Ryan Thompson scored 13 points for the Celtics in just 15 minutes. They were a quiet 13  points because 9 of them came from the free throw line (perfect 9-9).

New Jersey Nets 74 – Philadelphia 76ers 84

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The Nets struggled shooting the ball from everywhere on the court. Their only successful offense happened through Terrence Williams, who generated half of the team’s scoring (23 PTS and 7 AST). Williams was amazing on the court. He did a great job of driving to the basket and then dishing the ball to his teammates for easy baskets right as the help-side defender was rotating over. He had a jaw-dropping unexpected dunk in the lane where he just exploded through traffic with a monstrous one handed finish.

Derrick Favors showed that his defense and rebounding is much more advanced than his offensive game is. He shot 2-8 and only scored on easy baskets set up by teammates. Favors showed wow he was selected #3 overall on defense (2 BLK) and rebounding (9 REB). He had a couple of lapses against pick and rolls but he’ll learn that in time. His strength, wingspan, and athletic ability help him a lot when rebounding the ball.

Damion James had an alright game. He had 11 points and 5 rebounds, but he didn’t play his best.

Ben Uzoh was mostly playing off the ball with Williams handling the ball. Uzoh did shoot well from long range (3-5) and finished with11 points, but didn’t have a single assist.

For the 76ers their key player was Jrue Holiday. He scored 23 points and handed out 8 assists. Holiday did anything that he wanted on the court. He could pull up from mid range, get all the way to the rim, or find a teammate in a position to score. He was the 2009 Draft Player of the Day.

Evan Turner wasn’t as productive offensively as we are used to seeing, but he still did everything he could to help his team get the victory. He rebounded the ball very strongly (8 REB), got loose balls (including 2 steals), played hard defense, and set up teammates when he could (4 AST). Turner had just 5 shots, but went 8-8 from the free throw line. It will be interesting to see if his decline in shots and assists can be accredited to his transition to operating without the ball in his hands. Turner did have a very clever full court drive, including a nice behind the back move and a pretty, tough left handed lay up.

Mareese Speights is an inconsistent enigma. One game he’ll look like a solid starting power forward and the next he seems like he has no idea what a good shot is. In the first game Speights was still taking unwarranted step back jump shots, even when he clearly has the advantage offensively. He once decided a fade away 18 foot jumper was his best option while Connor Atchley guarded him. Speights finished the game with a horrible 9.1% field goal percentage (1-11).

Jodie Meeks had the last noteworthy performance in the game. He simply encouraged his reputation as a shooter and a scorer. He had 18 points on 12 shots.

Players of the Day

Rookie of the Day

Lance Stephenson – “Born Ready” came out with a chip on his shoulder. He played like he wanted to prove that the teams that didn’t select him on draft night made a mistake (24 different teams passed on Stephenson). He relentlessly attacked the basked and finished with 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.

The Pacers’ coaching staff made Stephenson the team’s primary ball handler and he matched up against Jerome Randle. He did a good job of staying in front of the Magic’s lightning quick point guard and easily overpowered Randle on the offensive end.

The biggest key for Stephenson’s success was that he was determined to get to the basket instead of settling for contested perimeter jump shots like he did at Cincinnati. Stephenson mostly initiated his own offense but he had a few beautiful passes (some of which weren’t converted). Stephenson even displayed a nice mid range jump shot  – the key was to remain on balanced instead of fading away like he did last year.

I was really impressed that he didn’t show any frustration when Josh McRoberts through a terrible outlet pass to Stephenson that resulted in a turnover because he has a reputation of being a pretty unforgiving teammate.

Watching the game I wondered if his performance was aided by the fact that he was being defended by a player over a half a foot shorter and about forty pounds lighter for most of the game. It might have played a small role, but it appears that Stephenson just had a great game.

The Pacers are in desperate need of a point guard. In the first Summer League game Stephenson showed potential to become a ball dominant scoring guard in the mold of Tyreke Evans. He’s on the right track as long as he is completely committed to driving the lane instead of settling for his inconsistent jump shots. If Stephenson really has ridded himself of his poor shot selection and other bad habits then games like this could become pretty common for the combo guard.

Undrafted Rookie of the Day

Ryan Thompson – On day 1 there wasn’t an undrafted rookie that played incredibly well, but Thompson will get the nod because of how effective he was scoring the ball without disrupting the offense. He scored 13 points in just 15 minutes of action by attacking and knocking down free throws.

2009 Draft Player of the Day

Jrue HolidayHe was very dominant running the show for the 76ers. Holiday got the slight edge over Terrence Williams because the 76ers won. It seems like the one year of playing in the NBA made a world of difference for these two players, because they looked like they were on a completely higher level than the competition in Summer League. Holiday could blow by his defender without breaking a sweat and he showed a nice pull up game. He’ll likely continue to shine in the summer league.

Unsigned Player of the Day

James Augustine – The 6’10” former Illini standout had a good first game. He scored 20 points on 9 of 10 shooting. He helped to lead the Jazz’s comeback versus the Bobcats. He grabbed just 3 rebounds, but he did a good job of staying active and running the floor. He showed a lot more consistency with his left handed hook shot in the post, but I’m not sure that he’ll show enough to make an NBA roster. Augustine spent last season playing in Spain, with pretty good success (9 PTS, 7 REB), and that’s likely where he’ll play again next season. If he keeps performing like this maybe he can get a chance on a team lacking front court depth.