Las Vegas -- With the Dallas Mavericks leaving the desert with a 2-4 record and the summer league in the rearview mirror, here are five takeaways from the experience.
Mixed reviews on Crowder
While Jae Crowder’s offensive consistency was lacking in Vegas, he emerged as one of the team’s defensive leaders. His ability to close out on shooters and use his footwork to stay in front of different types of players was impressive. He fell in love with his jumper early in the Las Vegas Summer League and his shot was not falling, mainly coming up short.
He realized he had to go back to attacking the basket in his final two games and that ultimately led to better results in terms of efficiency and scoring.
Fortunately, it’s not believed to be a serious injury because it will be a critical year for Crowder. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear result that anyone can take away from Crowder’s performance in Vegas.
Mavs will have options at backup point guard
Jose Calderon was the first major signing for the Mavs this summer and will provide an upgrade at the point guard position. But they will have two intriguing prospects in Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel. Larkin was unable to participate in the summer league due to a fracture in his right ankle, but Mekel turned heads with his performance in Vegas.
Sources told ESPNDallas.com that teams in Vegas were speculating about whether Mekel actually signed a contract with the Mavs, in hopes of poaching the Israeli guard. Fortunately for Dallas, this won’t be another Jeremy Lin situation, as Mekel officially signed a multiyear contract before coming to Nevada. One or both of the guards might have to spend time with the Mavericks' D-League team, but they should provide depth for Dallas.
Carmichael’s play warrants a training camp invite
Shawn Marion will likely remain a Maverick, for the time being, and Brandan Wright is still slated to return as free agency finishes. Both can back up Dirk Nowitzki, but added depth at the four spot would be welcomed.
Jackie Carmichael was the most impressive big man for Dallas in the summer league. With Bernard James returning to Dallas for personal reasons, Carmichael stepped up in a big way. He showed a nice touch around the rim and his timing on defense is impressive, as evidenced by his seven-block performance in the team’s second-round loss to the Golden State Warriors.
As an energy guy, Carmichael’s performance in Vegas might have turned enough heads to earn him an invite to the team’s training camp.
Akognon will be on the bubble
While he was the team’s leading scorer in Vegas, Josh Akognon ran very hot and cold. His shooting performance in the loss to Golden State severely hurt the Mavs' chances of being able to record the upset win, as he went 1-of-14 from the field. To his credit, he responded with a 7-of-14 effort in the team’s finale against Chicago.
It was noted earlier in the summer league that he is still a part of the main roster for Dallas. The 2013-14 portion of the contract he signed is unguaranteed but will become guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before Dec. 1. With an inconsistent performance in Vegas and depth at the guard positions arriving, his time with the Mavs might be borrowed.
Hope for the future
As it became apparent the Mavs were going to miss the playoffs and were building toward pursuing Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in free agency, Nowitzki said, "I always liked to think you don't want to build your franchise on hope.”
The summer league is essentially about hope. Teams are looking to find new prospects who emerge out of the desert air. Can Ricky Ledo, Mekel and Carmichael be pieces of the Mavs’ 15-man roster? That is up for debate. Like all teams in the new CBA world, the Mavs need new, young assets to be viable parts of their rotation.
“That’s the whole idea. We want to get guys that we lock in and develop,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said in Las Vegas earlier in the week. “That’s a big part of what we do. We’ll just do our best to take them and make them as good as we can make them.”