Sunday, July 14, 2013
Akognon lights it up in Las Vegas opener
By Bryan Gutierrez
LAS VEGAS -- Josh Akognon, a training-camp cut who returned to Dallas on a 10-day contract at the end of last season, is out to prove he belongs through his performance in the summer league.
So far, so good.
Akognon scored a game-high 24 points in the team’s 76-73 win Saturday against the Sacramento Kings. Whether the team was down 14 points or making its final push, Akgonon was consistent, going 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-6 from 3-point range.
“I don’t want to sound obnoxious, but I felt like there were a couple of shots that I could have made and things I could have done better,” Akognon said. “We fell back so far, and a sense of urgency kicked in for us. For me, my immediate thing goes to scoring to get us back in the game.”
Akognon didn’t have much of an opportunity as the season ended for the Mavs, but the 5-foot-11 guard hit the ground running in Vegas.
“This is the kind of stuff he does,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s been averaging over 30 [points per game] in China for years. He’s an experienced scorer. He’s a resourceful scorer, and he knows how to get the ball in the basket. He can mix it up.”
Averaging 30 points in China sounds crazy, but it’s actually not that far from the truth. He averaged just more than 28.5 points per game in his two seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Shooters like Akognon believe that they’re one shot away from catching fire, and the basket certainly looked bigger than normal for him against the Kings.
“That’s my whole career. That’s why I’m playing pro basketball,” Akognon said. “A lot of times, they’re going to keep telling me to shoot anyways, so my confidence is very high. If I’m missing shots, it feels like I’m making them.
“That’s the blessing and the curse with me. It did feel great for them to go in and to have my coaches and teammates behind me.”
Point guard Gal Mekel also made noise in his first game in Vegas, but he knew that a lot of his success was due to Akognon finishing off possessions with a bucket.
“He’s a great shooter,” Mekel said. “I love to play with a great shooter and to find them. We definitely played well together.”
Akognon noted after the game that Mekel was telling him in the moment that he needed to be in different spots to get better looks at the basket. That’s where Akognon’s note of being able to do things better came from.
It should be noted that he is still a part of the main roster for Dallas. The 2013-2014 portion of the contract he signed is fully unguaranteed but will become fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before Dec. 1.
A team can never have enough shooters. If Akognon can keep his shooting touch at a consistent level and stay honest on defense, he might not have to worry about that date in December.