TrueHoop: Gary Harris
July, 17, 2014
By D.J. Foster and Fred Katz
Ten notable performances from Day 6 at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas:
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks | Grade: B-minus
Give him credit for recognizing what he was largely failing to do in previous appearances. Parker had a few really aggressive moves in tight spaces where he used that considerable derriere of his to create contact and separation. What’s more important than the few blown finishes or the mistakes with the ball is that his physical gifts were actually utilized properly, as his drives were quick and purposeful. When you get to the line 13 times, it’s an admission from defenders that you’re too much to handle. -- Foster
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers | Grade: A-minus
This is not the Kentucky version of Julius Randle. No longer bound to the low block, Randle has been painting way outside the lines in Vegas by facing up and building the head of steam he needs to score over bigger defenders. It would be one thing if Randle was doing it recklessly, but his vision, ballhandling and selflessness finding open teammates off the bounce has been awfully impressive. There’s more than meets the eye here. -- Foster
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks | Grade: A-minus
No one -- coaches, defenders, teammates -- really knows what to make of him. He won the tip to begin the game, then immediately served as de-facto point guard, then ran both parts of the pick-and-roll like that’s a normal thing to do. Defenders played off him (because he’s 6-foot-11, after all), and he calmly knocked down open 3-pointers. With about 95 percent of the players in Las Vegas, you think about what they can do at the next level. But with Antetokounmpo, you wonder if there’s anything that he can’t do. -- Foster
Noah Vonleh, Charlotte Hornets | Grade: B-minus
Vonleh has one of the highest floors of any prospect in this draft class, simply because he just needs to exist on the court. He certainly isn’t a traditional rim protector because he lacks burst and quickness with his movements, but those crazy long arms and massive mitts tend to find the ball in spite of it. Basically, it’s all about positioning for him on both ends. That’s typically one of the more difficult aspects to master for young players learning the NBA game, but if Vonleh makes it his focus, good things can’t help but happen. -- Foster
Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves | Grade: B-minus
LaVine is getting the chance to show how he can run an offense, mainly playing the point, but his shoddy decision-making is on display in the process. LaVine will make incredible jumpers, but so many of them are a product of high-risk basketball. And when he makes those shots, he’s only giving himself incentive to keep taking them. At the end of the third quarter, LaVine missed another fadeaway jumper off the dribble, this time when he had an open lane to the hoop at the buzzer. He’s showing off the skills needed to play in the NBA. Now, it’s just about figuring out how to implement them. -- Katz
T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns | Grade: A
Warren is showing everyone in Vegas why he believes he was the steal of the lottery. Dropping 26 points Wednesday gave him 22-plus in three of his four summer league games. He has been efficient too, as Warren has gotten into the lane with ease, showing off an array of floaters and funky finishes around the rim. It seems like every time he puts the ball on the floor, Warren either gets to the hoop or sinks one of those smooth pull-ups. That’s how he has hit more than half his shots in each of his first four games in Vegas. The next step: developing a 3-point shot. -- Katz
Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs | Grade: B
Anderson’s drives have a horror-film sense of impending doom to them, as they’re so slow that you actually have time to imagine all the ways it could go horribly wrong. The thing is, Anderson is the rare intelligent protagonist, as he often steps or fakes his way out of danger at the last moment to make defenders look foolish. Of course you wish he could speed up the form on his jumper so he could unfurl it quicker against closing defenders, but what can you say? He plays to his own beat. -- Foster
Mike Muscala, Atlanta Hawks | Grade: B+
Remember back in the first round of the playoffs when the Hawks gave the Pacers all that trouble because of their ability to stretch the floor? Well, that was because guys such as Pero Antic could play center and still drain open 3-pointers. Muscala is looking like he’s going to fit into that philosophy beautifully. He hit two 3s on four attempts Wednesday, knocking in a couple more shots and pulling down six boards. -- Katz
Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves | Grade: A-minus
Most people like to wear a bathing suit around the pool at Vegas. Dieng brought his board shorts. How’s 19 rebounds sound for you? Dieng added on 13 points, hanging around the high post effectively, as he often does. Still, he walked away from that game just one rebound short of hitting the glorious 20-rebound mark, not bad for a guy who had a couple of 20-board games near the end of the regular season. -- Katz
Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets | Grade: C
Harris started his night with a steal that led to a fast-break score, but it was all downhill from there. The rookie found enough metal to reconstruct the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday, missing 13 of his 18 attempts, struggling to get to the hole and settling for jumpers throughout. He was active on the defensive end, totaling four steals and disturbing passing lanes, but the shot was off and, with that, he lost his offensive rhythm. -- Katz
July, 13, 2014
By D.J. Foster
Ten notable performances from Day 2 at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas:
Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks | Grade: C-
Here’s the Tim Hardaway Jr. basketball logic tree: Am I open? Shoot it. Am I covered? Shoot it. Someone else has the ball? Do nothing until I get it ... and then shoot it. Hardaway put up 16 attempts in 25 minutes and registered zero rebounds, zero assists and zero steals. Knicks teammate J.R. Smith catches a lot of heat for chucking, but Hardaway makes him look like a regular Magic Johnson by comparison.
Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets | Grade: A
Is there a little more to Harris than originally projected? The Michigan State guard split defenders and attacked in the pick-and-roll game, looking more like a complete wing scorer than a limited 3-and-D guy. Even though 3-point shooting was his calling card (5-for-10 from deep) and should continue to be going forward, the whole package was on display.
C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers | Grade: B
Even on an iffy shooting night (4-for-11), it’s easy to see why McCollum is a big-time scorer in the making. Rarely do you find a wing with this combination of size, shake and shooting ability, and perhaps more importantly, the smarts to use those skills and base an attack around threes and free throws. Making even your worst shooting nights palatable is an underrated aspect of being a quality scorer, and McCollum can do just that.
Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards | Grade: B
With Trevor Ariza off to the Houston Rockets and Martell Webster out with another back surgery, the third pick in the 2013 draft might have to grow up in a hurry. Porter is a little reminiscent offensively of Tayshaun Prince, as he curls well off baseline screens and uses his length to shoot over the top on contested midrange jumpers. While you’d like to see him extend his range, establishing a comfort zone might be more important for the time being.
Glen Rice Jr., Washington Wizards | Grade: B+
There are a lot of aggressive dudes at Summer League trying to bully and pound their way onto a roster, but no one attacked the rim on Saturday quite like Rice. In just 26 minutes, Rice went to the line a whopping 16 times. Considering he’s a better athlete and shooter than Porter, Rice could really syphon some minutes from Porter this season if he keeps up this level of aggression offensively.
Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota Timberwolves | Grade: C+
Muhammad has mastered the art of throwing garbage up at the rim while simultaneously creating space with his huge frame for an easier putback attempt after securing the offensive rebound (7 on the game). I’m not entirely sure that’s a viable strategy against better athletes, but Muhammad’s whole bag is non-traditional scoring.
Justin Holiday, Golden State Warriors | Grade: A
It’s not often you see a player smile while making a game-winner, but Holiday couldn’t help but grin as he caught an airball (or a Kobe assist?) under the basket to flip in, effectively keeping Golden State’s summer league winning streak alive and well. Holiday has always lacked a “specialty” that really appeals to NBA teams, but his smooth all-around game and length served him well Saturday.
Tony Snell, Chicago Bulls | Grade: A
Maybe Doug McDermott loaned out his jumper for the evening, as it was Snell who stole the show in his debut by hitting just about everything he put up (10-for-14, 27 points) while McDermott struggled (2-for-8). Chicago can always use more perimeter shooting and scoring, and Snell looked confident firing from deep and flying in with long strides on drives to the rim.
Dante Exum, Utah Jazz | Grade: A-
Hype machine, activate! Comparisons to a young Kobe Bryant, Penny Hardaway and Brandon Roy were flying around after Exum’s first game, and his displays of smooth athleticism and skill were often breathtaking. Although there were better overall performances elsewhere, no one flashed more star potential than Exum did. With his vision and first step, he has lead guard written all over him.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz | Grade: B
Sometimes all it takes for players with high motors is one positive play to start a chain reaction. That happened for Gobert a few times, as a block or a steal would lead to an offensive rebound, which would then turn into an easy bucket. The consistency isn’t quite there yet, but Gobert absolutely has the natural ability to impact a game defensively in spurts.