Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer League Storylines

As the Vegas summer league starts to get more and more press, an important question has begun to linger more and more: is the Vegas summer league a reliable method for evaluating NBA talent?

Remember we're talking four total leagues too. Although Vegas & Orlando seem to get the most hype these days.

Of course, as is usually the case…the answer is both yes and no.

Amare Stoudemire first blew up during summer league games.
So did Nikoloz Tskitishvili though.
Von Wafer plays like an NBA starter most summers.
Marco Belinelli is as efficient as they come in his first minutes on American hardwood.
Even Marcus Banks put up 42 points in a game this summer.
Greg Oden committed 19 fouls in 2 games.
Anthony Roberson may have resurrected his basketball career this summer, I think.

All interesting sentiments. In fact, there’s a countless assortment of them to try and decipher and decode.

The real point is: the summer league often provides both youthful underachievers and aging underachievers an opportunity to display their talents, for better or worse.

Well, sort of.

So here are a dozen Summer League Storylines that you might even want to take a peak at, if only for a moment or two…

1) Is Randy Foye this year’s sophomore stud [aka Deron Williams]?
-Showing more than enough potential down the stretch last season, Foye has been rather impressive during the opening stretch in Vegas. While his team is far less structured than Utah a season ago, Foye could easily step up into a more prominent role within the Timberwolves starting rotation.

2) Can Glen Davis help bring respectability back to the Celtics frontline?
-Jumping up more than a few draft boards, ‘Big Baby’ may not turn out to be another Robert ‘Tractor’ Traylor after all. In fact, he may be much more effective in using his size and relatively steady foot speed. While lining him up next to Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins won’t remind you of Parrish/McHale, Big Baby could see 15-20 minutes a game a few months into the season.

3) Which of the two previous 1st-round pick point guards will be starting for the Lakers in their opener?
-Don’t sleep on how much Phil Jackson hates small point guards (sorry BJ Armstrong). Crittenton is reminding a lot of people of a young Ron Harper. While he may not sky to the hoop like Ron Harper at 23, Harper at 33 would be more than enough for the Lake-show.

4) Will DJ Strawberry or Alando Tucker be added into Phoenix’s rotation?
-Not right away; yet, it should happen eventually. Remember that Grant Hill is now there, Shawn Marion didn’t leave, and Kurt Thomas isn’t likely to be traded anymore. With that being said, Tucker’s shooting ability gives him the slight edge. The real question is whether injuries beset the Suns or perhaps one of these guys can show added muscle or defensive prowess.

5) With Kevin Durant & Jeff Green likely starting Day One, will Seattle struggle mightily to win 20 games this season?
-They’ll both start and the team will SUCK (and I didn’t mean to say stink). In fact, after viewing their potential starting lineup, point guard Luke Ridnour may be the only guy who should be starting from Day One on an NBA team this upcoming season. Their center position is an impending disaster (Robert Swift doesn’t equal a monster and Sene is going to keep getting people fired) and they’re going to look to two undersized rookies, physically at least, to carry the load. It’s likely the Sonics will be drafting very very early in the lottery next season.

6) Will Amir Johnson have a Jason Maxiell type entrance into the Pistons rotation?
-Johnson looks ready to ink a 3-year/$10-million deal with Detroit-basketball. While some of you may scoff at such a deal for a guy who gets limited minutes, remember C-Web is far from guaranteed to be returning and the Pistons learned last season that McDyess & Rasheed are far less reliable than previously anticipated. Not to mention that last year’s surprise Maxiell, despite strong reviews, was exposed by LeBron as having terrible adjustment and reaction speed.

7) How many minutes has Aaron Brooks earned with his stellar summer play thus far?
-One of the MVP candidates of the summer league thus far, Brooks still has a lot to look up at on the depth chart. Mike James is back in Houston, Rafer Alston is already there, and some guy named Luther Head is a third-year veteran who has been relatively productive in limited minutes. In fact, Head may be the guy to watch in Houston this year. Nevertheless, Brooks, thus far, doesn’t seem to be the extreme reach some had him pegged as only a few weeks ago.

8) Will Sebastian Telfair be a Boston Celtic next year? Or even in the NBA?
-I’m leaving this one up to the gods. Honestly, there’s no telling what’s going on. Fortunately for his case, Rajon Rando hasn’t exactly been unstoppable as of late. With Delonte West gone, something tells me Gabe Pruitt may not be enough to keep Sebass off of the court for very long.

9) Did you know that Maceo Baston is still playing?
-Seriously? Did you have any idea? He even got offered a 2-year contract!?!?

10) What are the Blazers planning to do with Taurean Green?
-Steve Blake is back, Sergio Rodriguez has struggled in the NBA-style (especially defensively), and Jarrett Jack is clearly Nate McMillan’s choice for point guard. So what does that mean for the underrated Gator? He deserves to be traded. This guy may be pretty small, but he has the game to be a Charlie Bell-type backup point guard. Pay and I thought he'd be a good fit for the Knicks, but the play of Nate Robinson has to rule that out (even though he's not a true point, he might've earned 5-10 extra mins. a game with his stellar summer performance).

11) Is Mike Conley Jr. likely going to start the season on the bench?
-Short and sweet answer….yes. Kyle Lowry impressed down the stretch and Conley needs a lot of work on his perimeter. Just suck this year and draft Batum next season. Listen to me!

12) Can Reggie Theus be the needed adrenaline boost for Francisco Garcia?
-While his former assistant coach can offer him plenty of motivation, the Kings are such a mess now (Bibby & Artest situations) that it may not even matter if Garcia can improve during the summer session. His battle with “High Times” Quincy Douby may be all Kings fans have to look forward to this off-season. That and Yi’s demands to be traded to Sac-Town.

As is typically the case, there’s plenty more to talk about. In fact, I’ll probably have to return to this very topic for a variety of issues (Yi’s game translating into the American-style of play, is Louis Williams a potential PG for the future in Philly, and what happened to Derrick Byars over the off-season) to dwell upon.

All that and more, until next time…

1 comment:

Paymon said...

Prior to occupying Indiana's bench, Baston was among Europe's top five players for a few years. He's a quality player.