Vegas Summer League notebook: The final deal
Some final reviews for the notable players who competed recently in the Las Vegas Summer League ...
Greg Oden, Blazers (Pick No. 1) -- He played in only two games before shutting it down to get his tonsils taken out. Considering the media attention, the sickness and the foul problems, it's hard to give him a grade. Scouts thought he used his hands too much trying to get position instead of using his greatest weapon, his body, but overall summer league was incomplete for the top pick.
Kevin Durant, Sonics (2) -- His scoring stats looked great (24 ppg). He had some flashy moments and some raw ones. He took and missed lots of jumpers. On defense, he picked off a bunch of steals but also sometimes had trouble staying with his man whether he had the ball or not. No one doubts he will be an impact player or will have some rough nights right away.
Mike Conley, Grizzlies (4) -- Scouts loved Conley, with several saying he is more impressive in person and in games than on tape or in workouts. His jumper is suspect and his range is limited, but his savvy is beyond his years. He also can execute any pass at any speed and works hard at the defensive end.
Yi Jianlian, Bucks (6)-- Didn't play with the Bucks, of course, but rather the Chinese National Team. Scouts think Yi has a lot of promise because of his size and his skills. They also think he looks like a guy who has spent most of his career playing on the outside; his interior game needs work -- everyone not named Yao on the national team is expected to be able to shoot the 3. The general sense from those in Vegas is that Yi can be a good player but probably won't be right away.
Corey Brewer, Wolves (7) -- Brewer had an odd summer league. Most coaches and executives think he needs to add some weight to his wiry frame to maximize his defensive ability. However, he didn't have a problem going inside and rebounding at will, averaging nearly 10 a game. Yet he was unable to do anything with his shot, making a woeful 28 percent from the field. With his height and quickness, getting good shots was supposed to be a strong suit. The general impression he left was "needs improvement."
Spencer Hawes, Kings (8) -- Most pro onlookers like Hawes' package of skills for a 7-footer, but many who watched him in Vegas think he is still very much in the prospect phase. He needs to learn the nuances of NBA defense, especially as it relates to the pick-and-roll. Plus he got awfully shot happy in Vegas, taking 45 more than any other King, from everywhere. Of those he made just 44 percent, low for a big man, and almost never got to the foul line in a whistle-plagued league.
Thaddeus Young, Sixers (12) -- You could see his confidence growing as the week went on. He especially impressed with his ability to crash the offensive boards. "Overall, he impressed me, he showed a lot of promise here," said one general manager after watching him put up 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Sixers' last game.
The rookies were duds at the Orlando summer league.
But second-year players like Tyrus Thomas and J.J. Redick were bright lights. Story
Al Thornton, Clippers (14) -- The general consensus is that the Clippers did well to get Thornton at the end of the lottery and it held up in Vegas. Thornton led the Clippers' summer league team in scoring and he also rebounded well. Yet several onlookers were taken aback by how much Thornton shot the ball, often never even thinking of passing. Said one coach: "He looks to shoot first, second and third." He played 145 minutes and had just three assists while shooting just 38 percent.
Rodney Stuckey, Pistons (15) -- One of the talks of summer league, he showed excellent quickness, poise and midrange shooting. There are questions whether he can truly be a point guard, but there is no denying his talent and that he was likely overlooked by many teams in the top half of the draft.
Nick Young, Wizards (16) -- Shot a lot, missed a lot, turned the ball over a lot and generally looked like he's got a long way to go. He had a good game or two and scored a bunch of points, but overall scouts think he'll go through a standard adjustment period. Likely won't be seeing much time until he matures a little.
Marco Belinelli, Warriors (18) -- Looked like the most polished rookie in Vegas, perhaps because he's not really a rookie. He's been a pro for years in Italy and it showed. Anyone can see he can shoot and has a world-class quick release, but coaches and execs were more impressed with the way he played on defense -- he's not great, but he knows where to be and when -- and off the ball on offense.
Javaris Crittenton, Lakers (19) -- Excellent athlete who impressed many in Vegas with his confidence. He wasn't consistent in his production but he was with his aggression. He's caught up in the classic point guard/off guard discussion; opinions differ on where he can help the Lakers in that regard. He ran the offense at times and also played alongside Jordan Farmar.
Wilson Chandler, Knicks (23) -- The Knicks had plenty of roster players in Vegas and as a result had a great team. Chandler fit in nicely, not too much was asked of him and he spent time showing off what he can do, which is attempt high-percentage shots and get some rebounds. Overall, he was solid and left observers wanting to see more.
Aaron Brooks, Rockets (26) -- Obviously Brooks made an impression, he was named the top rookie. His quickness and playmaking ability made him a fan favorite, to be sure. Coaches liked what they saw, but question whether he truly can become a pass-first guard or hold his own against all the big guards in the league. Based on the way he scores, though, he might force the Rockets to give him a chance.
Arron Afflalo, Pistons (27) -- With his size and willingness to play defense, some believe he'll carve out a role in the league. But offensively, some think he will be challenged. "He's got a flat shot, which means he's going to be very streaky as a shooter," said one executive. That showed in Vegas: He shot 37 percent.
Alando Tucker, Suns (28) -- He put up some decent numbers (17 ppg), including a game in which he scored 29 points, but many scouts were somewhat underwhelmed. They didn't think he did anything exceptionally well, especially shooting. Some even expressed shock he was named Big Ten Player of the Year in a conference that produced Oden and Conley.
Petteri Koponen, Blazers (30) -- A young-looking 19-year-old, he resembled a ballboy more than an NBA player. Yet he can handle the ball and has some good point guard instincts. It was easy to see why the Blazers are intrigued by him, and why they plan to let him develop overseas for awhile.
Belinelli -- Sweet shooting and confident, he seems like a perfect fit for the Warriors' system.
Brooks -- There's always a place for small, super-quick guards in the NBA.
Conley -- Has all the tools to be an impact player right away.
Durant -- Not yet polished, but super-talented
Stuckey -- Might not make as much of an impact as his peers, but he was one of the best in Vegas.
Louis Williams, Sixers -- A year working on his game has paid dividends. Scouts don't think he's ready to run a team just yet, but he should help Philly next season.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers -- Oden is the big man getting all the hype, but Aldridge is the one who might have the huge season. Last year in Vegas he looked timid and raw. This year in his two games, he looked mean and polished at both ends. With Zach Randolph in New York, he will get a chance to shine.
Craig Smith, Wolves -- He worked over all the big men in summer league, many of whom were too short or too thin to be in the NBA. He's strong enough to do the same in spots in the regular season.
Randy Foye, Wolves -- He seemed to score at will, either going to the basket or on jumpers. In summer league, he's an athlete who stands out.
Nate Robinson, Knicks -- Robinson seemed as though he came to Vegas to remind the Knicks he was on the roster. Then he did just about everything well -- shooting, passing, free-throw shooting and even rebounding. He led the Knicks to a 5-0 record and was named league MVP.
Durant's shooting -- He wasn't afraid to let it fly, which probably will be the case in the regular season. He needs to be a little more judicious, which the 33-percent field-goal percentage showed.
Oden's fouls -- Referees didn't cut him any slack and he probably won't get much in the real deal at first either, especially when getting offensive position. It's something he's dealt with his whole life, he'll just need to learn some new techniques to take advantage of the rules.
Yi's shooting -- He's going to have an adjustment period figuring out how he'll get his shots; he made just 25 percent of them in Vegas.
Rashad McCants, Wolves -- Still coming back from the major knee injury, he had 32 points in the Wolves' last game. But in the previous four games he averaged just eight points on 22-percent shooting despite getting heavy minutes.
Mouhamed Sene, Sonics -- Seems like last year's No. 10 overall pick should be developing, instead he was a nonfactor on a bad Sonics team. He averaged just 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and shot 32 percent.
Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for the Akron Beacon Journal
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The NBA's young stars get their first chance to shine for their teams in the 2007 Las Vegas Summer League.
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RECAPS AND NEWS
• Durant skips game to attend ESPYs
• Report: Tonsillectomy ending Oden's summer
• Durant's shot still off
• Oden better on Sunday
• Buckley: Final calls from Rocky Mountain Revue
• Buckley: Horford, Law lead young Hawks
• Buckley: Durant a hit in lone Utah game
• Buckley: Louis Williams, sunny king of summer
• Windhorst: Best and worst of Vegas league
• Windhorst: Sonics duo finishes strong
• Buckley: Horford looks good for Hawks
• Windhorst: Durant breaks out for 32 points
• Buckley: Almond could fit Utah's shooting needs
• Denton: Rookies struggle in Orlando
• Windhorst: Iavaroni likes the look of his Grizz
• Denton: Noah, the sitting Bull who won't sit still
• Stein: Where will Yi finally land?
• Denton: The understudy point man of Jersey
• Stein: Midpoint awards from Vegas
• Denton: Redick on fire in Orlando
• Stein: The Belinelli buzz grows
• Stein: Latest on Mo Williams, Fisher
• Sheridan: Carlesimo patient with Durant
• Denton: Tyrus shines in Orlando Day 1
• Stein: Oden struggling early on
• Stein: Yi impresses in debut
• Sheridan: Oden, Durant debuts
• Projecting the game of Cheikh Samb, I am
• Legend of Ostertag's domination of TD
• Pierre Pierce's past ever present
• First impressions of Vegas scene
• Summer storylines
• Summer League notes
• Stein: Oden, Durant first meeting set for Sunday
• Sheridan: News and notes from Vegas
• Evaluating Redick's summer game
• Chad Ford/Marc Stein on summer ball