Vegas rookie update: Roy, Brown, O'Bryant
LAS VEGAS -- If not for Randy Foye, Brandon Roy would be the talk of the Vegas Summer League, the continuation of a story line that may attach itself to the two rookies for the entire upcoming season.
Averaging 26 points a game, Foye will probably leave Sin City as the favorite for Rookie of the Year, which may be an injustice to the man he was traded for on draft night.
The Trail Blazers have more young talent here than any other team, with three first-round picks and three roster players taking part, which has made them a main attraction.
While young vets Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw have been putting up offensive numbers in bunches, Roy has been the gem. Playing mostly point guard, something he won't be asked to do much in the regular season, he's earned high marks across the board.
His numbers speak to that. After his 18 points in the Blazers' win over the Wizards on Monday, Roy is averaging 15 points and four assists and shooting a smooth 66 percent after four games.
But those digits don't tell the whole story. Roy has affirmed his draft hype by showing a wide array of skills.
He's not afraid to back opponents down on the dribble Jason Kidd-style, cross over either way and go to the basket or free himself with step-back jumpers and under-control fadeaways. He doesn't seem to take bad shots and doesn't seem to make many bad decisions.
"He's just so solid, he does so many things well and that's why he's going to step in and help them right away," said one Eastern Conference general manager. "You can see why a lot of us had him in the top three."
No, he's not flawless -- he coughed up a couple of turnovers under pressure against the Wizards. But overall his poise has been noteworthy. They don't keep plus-minus stats in summer league, but when he comes into the game, the Blazers instantly seem to get a lift, and it shows in their 3-1 record.
His lottery teammate, LaMarcus Aldridge, has posted decent numbers, averaging 10.5 points and six rebounds, but the reviews aren't as stellar. Aldridge doesn't seem to command much of a presence on the court yet. On Monday, he got bumped around a lot by two Wizards: former second-round picks Peter John Ramos and Andray Blatche, who had the highlight of the game when he blocked an Aldridge dunk try.
Aldridge has shown some good feel on defense, consciously working to be in the right rotation. But on offense he has been a little passive and settled for outside shots, as shown in his 42 percent shooting.
"He hasn't done much for me. I'm not sure what sort of impact he'll have," a Western Conference exec said. "He needs to add some bulk."
Joel Freeland, the English forward the Blazers got with the 30th pick, has had limited playing time and hasn't done anything remarkable or worthy of changing the plotted course of leaving him overseas.
The big news in Cleveland all offseason has been LeBron James' contract extension, which still seems to be in flux. Meanwhile, there hasn't been much fanfare around Shannon Brown, whom general manager Danny Ferry made his first-ever first-rounder with the 25th pick in the draft.
With the speculation that James is giving the Cavs four more years -- turning down a maximum five-year extension for a three-year pact -- every move is magnified. With no first-round pick last year, none next year and no salary cap room, Brown has a lot riding on him. The Cavs need him to be one of the guys from the late first round who makes it.
Everything the Cavs do relates to James and so does Brown, who is versatile enough to play both point and shooting guard. The Cavs dream that he may at some point be able to play on the court with Larry Hughes and James, giving the team three multitalented players who create matchup problems.
The Michigan State product looked the part on Monday, playing 28 minutes at point guard and scoring 16 points with five assists as the Cavs hammered the Warriors. He scored 19 points in a game last week playing mostly shooting guard.
He's not a pure ball handler, but Brown has shown an excellent feel in Vegas along with the ability to drive, kick and finish with both hands, a trait that isn't as common as one might think in the NBA.
"It is easy to play with LeBron. You don't need to develop a long relationship. You just have to be out there and run the floor with him," said Brown, who has known James since both were 16. "I don't feel any pressure to do anything right now, but I think I'm going to have to play with confidence."
O'Bryant's projection: project
The Golden State Warriors scored with their ninth overall pick last summer, landing Ike Diogu, who some thought was too small to be a legit power forward in the NBA. Diogu delivered a tantalizing rookie season, averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds, and has some of the best-looking upside from the 2005 class.
Chris Mullin thought long range again last month with another No. 9 pick, taking Bradley center Patrick O'Bryant. The 7-footer soared up the draft boards during the individual workout season but was still recognized as underdeveloped. His performance thus far in Vegas mirrors that assessment.
O'Bryant scored draft points for his athleticism, but thus far in Vegas he's often seemed a step slow.
On Monday, he put up his best offensive numbers yet in the Warriors' three games, scoring 12 points in 22 minutes in a loss to the Cavs. But even against generally soft summer competition, O'Bryant seems just a little behind.
He's averaging eight points but just two rebounds per game thus far and often seems to find himself out of position, which is not totally unexpected for a player who jumped from Bradley after two seasons. He's picking up fouls at an astounding rate -- 27 in three games. (Players are not limited to six fouls in summer league.) That's not totally unheard of either -- Dwight Howard hacked at a similar pace two years ago as a rookie in Vegas.
Perhaps of more concern is that O'Bryant often is the last man up the floor, a hint that his conditioning is another one of those "needs improvement" categories.
Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for the Akron Beacon-Journal.
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