The Hornets' Bobby Brown (left) and Julian Wright have created some buzz with their summer-league play. (Getty Images)
A lot of general managers, coaches and fans are hoping that what happens in Vegas, doesn't really stay in Vegas when it comes to the performances of their players at NBA Summer League. They want some of the experiences and lessons learned to carry over to October when the basketballs get rolled out for real -- that goes for the positive experiences and the negative ones, too.
Since we are at the midway point of the 10-day, 53-game extravaganza, let's take a quick look at some of the best and worst so far.
In both of the games he has played, he has been the best player on the court and it hasn't been close. Using his speed and exceptional handle to set up defenders, the combo guard has made a living at the charity stripe, attempting a two-game total of 39 freebies (making 31). He followed up his 28-point, four-rebound debut against the Wizards by hanging 26 and six on the Kings.
His 40-point outburst against the Suns may have been the greatest game in NBA Summer League history. How can you argue? In 36 minutes, he didn't commit a turnover, needed only 20 shots to get his 40, drained 50 percent of his 10 3-point attempts and added three rebounds, three assists and two steals. And his team won.
When training camps open, nobody will remember, but for now it's hard to forget Hill missing all 10 of his shots against the Hornets from both close range and afar. Throw in the fact that he was floored by a Hilton Armstrong pick and it just wasn't a good night.
Wright's opening day line of 12 points on 4-for-17 shooting with 11 turnovers was as ugly as the numbers seem.
He has faced the Grizzlies' Mike Conley, the Bobcats' D.J. Augustin and the Spurs' George Hill and come out as the best point guard on the floor each time. The unheralded playmaker is good not only at dialing up his own number -- scoring 46 points on just under 50 percent shooting -- but also at getting good looks for his teammates (18 assists).
Houston fans may have beef with me on this selection since Mike Harris is tied with Love for the rebounding lead -- although they have played only one game each. But Love gets the nod because I watched him fight for every ball that came off the glass/rim like his life depended on it and because Harris' numbers are inflated since they came in the how-quickly-can-we-shoot-game between Houston and Phoenix.
He is very good at changing up the speed of play, controlling the game and taking what the defense gives him. Against the Grizzlies, he took just four shots, but handed out a game-high nine assists. He was more shot-oriented yesterday against the Pistons, scoring 21 points on 6-for-11 from the field, but still found time to give out four helpers, while reducing his turnovers from seven to two.
On offense, he has been turnover prone. Luckily, he has a tendency for making up for his miscues on the other end of the floor. He has thrived at jumping into passing lanes and picking up loose balls. Through three games, he is averaging 1.3 blocks and 3.0 steals per outing.
BEST INJURED PLAYER: Eric Gordon, Clippers
Although he didn't shoot well, Gordon gave L.A. fans a glimpse of the future, averaging 19 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games before shutting it down with a strained left hamstring.
Here is some friendly advice to the Hornets' Hilton Armstrong. Next time get out of the way. Watch
BEST BUZZER BEATER: O.J. Mayo, GrizzliesProof that practice does make perfect, the third pick made a 69-foot heave at the buzzer against the Spurs. Watch
"I thought it wasn't going to make it to the rim," Mayo said. "I was surprised. After practices recently, we have been practicing half-court shots. I made a few there."
- Maurice Brooks is an NBA editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
O.J. Mayo is clearly the main attraction at Vegas Summer League, Kevin Love, who was traded for Mayo on draft night to mixed reviews, will also be under the microscope when he makes his pro debut Monday.
Even though Love is considered less of a sure thing than Mayo -- who has performed well in his first three summer league games -- he's similar in being a "celebrity" among the recent draftees.
Everyone who saw Love average a double-double and earn All-American honors at UCLA last season knows he can play. The questions surrounding Love have more to do with his size.
The 6-foot-10 bruiser appears a little too small to play center, so he'll probably have to play power forward. Also, I've read a lot where people think the quickness of the game might be a problem.
Love's biggest asset is his technique. He may not dominate the glass tonight, but eventually he'll figure out the little tricks of the trade and I see him splitting time successfully at both the 4 and the 5.
We'll see if he can shake the "good skills but not athletic enough for the NBA" label. With all of the hopes and dreams the Timberwolves and their fans have invested in Love, this is the first chance to see what he can actually do.
Love isn't the only semi-savior for a struggling franchise who will see his first action against NBA-level competition today.
Knick fans didn't respond favorably to the selection of Danilo Gallinari at the draft in New York, although, truthfully, not a lot of people who were jeering in disapproval had ever seen him play.
But all the scouting reports have nothing but great things to say about the Italian forward. He is listed at 6-foot-9, and, at the age of 19, he is still growing.
He is fundamentally sound.
He is an above-average passer.
He jumps well, can put the ball on the floor and excels in both one-on-one and team play.
The only knocks against him are on the defensive end of the court, where they say he needs to improve.
Will he be able to stop all of the comparisons to Andrea Bargnani by playing well against a group of rookies and free agents trying to find work? Of course not.
But it would be a nice start for Gallinari, who has a high skill and IQ level, but questionable athleticism.
In their first two games, the Hornets have been using forward Julian Wright as one of their primary playmakers. So far, the results haven't been very good. In their opening game against the Grizzlies, he turned the ball over an eye-popping 11 times. He also missed 13 of his 17 shots.
I was ready to simply chalk that up as a bad game until I watched him this afternoon. While he is playing with a lot of energy, he appears slightly out of control -- turning the ball over four more times in the first half. Not all Wright news has been negative. He does have a block and three steals.
If I were a Bobcats fan, I don't know if I would be happy or concerned with the way D.J. Augustin is playing. The speedy point guard has thrilled the crowd on more than one occasion with his drives to the hoop and hasn't had a problem creating for himself. That's the good. The bad is through six-plus quarters, he only has three assists. Maybe once he gets a little more comfortable with his new teammates, the dimes will come.
Hard to believe, but the best player on the court is New Orleans' Bobby Brown, who spent last season playing for German League champion Alba Berlin. The former Cal State Fullerton guard had one of the top missed dunks I've seen in a while, when he elevated on the break and tried to put Charlotte's Kyle Weaver on a poster. The ball bounced off the back of the rim, but Weaver was called for a foul on the play.
Brown showed off his all-around skills Sunday.
Anyway, Brown is doing a little bit of everything. He is attacking the rim -- ask Weaver -- he has knocked down a couple of jumpers, he's passing and rebounding well, too. I'm not saying Chris Paul should be worried about his playing time, but Brown is getting the job done today.
The Hornets hung on for a two-point win. Brown stuffed the box score to the tune of 20 points -- including what turned out to be the game-winner with 30 seconds left -- five assists and five rebounds. He also had a steal and turned the ball over just one time.
Wright put on quite a defensive performance, finishing with two blocks and five steals. He also had six turnovers bringing his two-day total to 17. He did shoot a little better, going 5 of 12 for 11 points.
Augustin scored a team-high 15. He finished with five turnovers and just two assists.
"I'm trying to get my teammates involved as much as possible," Augustin told me after the game. "We've had some tough misses, but I'm trying to get them open shots. We're still trying to get a better understanding of each other."
In Game 2, I'm anxious to see how Anthony Randolph follows up his huge opening-day performance. And in case you were wondering, C.J. Watson has taken the floor today without his long-sleeve shirt.
Marco Belinelli has the Warriors off and running in the second half. He just hit consecutive jumpers and threw a no-look pass that was so pretty, I found myself looking the wrong way as his teammate caught the ball and laid it in. Midway through the third, Golden State has a 15-point lead.
Belinelli has stayed hot in the fourth quarter and now has a total of 23 points. Randolph is not having a big offensive game, but he has still been effective, cracking double digits in points again.
James Singleton (17 points) has been the best player in a Mavericks uniform. He crashes the boards hard and has got into the lane for easy buckets.
Belinelli finished with 25 points, while Randolph (5-for-12) scored 11. Brandan Wright was the top big man in a Golden State uniform, pulling down seven boards to go with his 15 points.
From the "Did that really just happen department?", Coby Karl just blocked O.J. Mayo's jumper on one end of the floor and threw a perect alley-oop pass on the other end. I immediately looked into the stands to see his dad, George, softly clap his hands twice in approval. As I'm typing this, Karl just hit a near-impossible turnaround jumper.
It looks like playing three games in three nights is catching up to Mayo. He doesn't have his normal bounce. He has missed four of his first six shots and he has been sloppy with the ball, turning it over four times. Darrell Arthur is also struggling, hitting just 1 of 4 shots for two points, while committing five fouls.
It appears the Grizzlies have stopped calling plays and are just letting Mayo go to work in the the third quarter. He has been way more effective going one-on-one, scoring 10 points in the first seven minutes of the period on a combination of jumpers and drives.
I got a new-found respect for Karl. When a bully punches you in the mouth you can either just take it or fight back. He has chose to fight back. Karl, who has covered Mayo for most of the game, has responded to the challenge in the third quarter, firing in nine points of his own. He just went to the hole for two points prompting the P.A. announcer to scream, "Kobe Bryant." Not quite.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Mayo was toying with the dribble in front of L.A.'s Dwayne Mitchell. Mitchell made him pay, ripping Mayo at the top of the key and then racing up the court for a thunderous dunk.
Karl finished with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists as the Lakers toppled the Grizzlies 85-76.
Mayo ended the contest with 15 points, six fouls and six turnovers, while Arthur had three times as many fouls (9) as points (3).
In the last game of the night, the Pistons, who I can't see losing in Vegas, are taking on the Clippers.
Starting tomorrow, games will be held at both the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. The Knicks, Cavaliers, Wizards, Trail Blazers, Suns, Rockets and Spurs will all make their summer league debuts.
Day 2 is underway with the Raptors clinging to a small lead over the Kings. Toronto's Joey Graham (18 points) and Sacramento's Spencer Hawes (14) are slugging it out for game-high scoring honors midway through the third period.
On a side note, all that stuff about anything goes in Vegas is not entirely true. Last night I was denied entry -- to of all things, an NBA Summer League party -- at the Palms for wearing shorts. Sure I know you're supposed to wear pants to the club, but when it's 108 degrees outside, I thought that rule went out the window. Apparently not.
In the comments section of yesterday's live blog, someone wrote that Ron Artest had been traded to the Lakers. If that is the case, someone forgot to tell Ron-Ron because he's here hanging out with Kevin Martin sitting behind the Kings' bench.
I know it's only Day 2, but this has been the most entertaining game so far. Think pickup ball in the park -- complete with Quincy Douby cherry picking. Toronto's Jaycee Carroll (as I'm typing this, he fired up an airball) can really shoot it, and Hawes shoots and passes a lot better than I remember.
Graham is attacking the basket every time he gets a touch, and although he has eight fouls (you are allowed 10 before fouling out in summer league), he has 24 points.
The Kings earned the 93-86 victory over the Raptors thanks to Hawes and Douby combining to score 43 points. Patrick Ewing, Jr. got the start at forward for the Kings, missing all four of his shot attempts and finishing with zero points.
I'm looking forward to watching the Bobcats' D.J. Augustin and the Clippers' Eric Gordon in the next game. Although I didn't think Charlotte needed another point guard, I love the way Augustin gets up and down the floor.
Maybe I put the jinx on Augustin who hasn't done anything in the early going to distinguish himself. He finished the period with zero assists and no points. Just like last night, Gordon once again is showing that he is not shy. He squeezed off four shots, while playing the entire first period, but only connected on one.
For the second day in a row, the gym is full. I guess it's a hoop junkie's dream. For $20 you get to see four games featuring young hungry players, get closer to the NBA action than you normally would and you're in Las Vegas. I guess that is a winning formula.
At halftime, everyone in attendance got all of the proof needed that those who can't play, heckle. "Clipper Darrell", who has worn a homemade Clippers outfits to the arena the last two days and made life miserable for L.A. opponents, was chosen to participate in a shooting contest. Showing off form that even Bill Cartwright could make fun of, he only made one of his 10-plus shot attempts. Also, he got a taste of his own medicine -- the crowd booed.
Augustin has done a good job getting off his own shot, although he hasn't been in playmaker mode. Through three quarter he is 4-for-7 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the line for a total of 14 points. He has just one assist.
If I were on the Clippers' coaching staff, I'd sit Al Thornton. He doesn't need the extra work. He has 19 points and six boards and pretty much can do what he wants, when he wants. This will be the last summer that we will ever see him playing summer league ball.
Gordon's shaky shooting from the floor has apparently carried over to the foul line where he is a Shaq-like 3-for-7. That is almost as bad as his shooting from 3-point range (1 of 5).
It looks like Gordon has pulled his hamstring. He went to the hole and when he came down he immediately grabbed the back of his leg. The medical staff is taking a look.
Gordon limped off the court following the Clippers' 81-66 loss. This is what he had to say after the game.
"I hurt it pretty bad and don't know what is going to happen," Gordon said. "I'll see how it feels tomorrow."
Gordon, who finished with 15 points on 4-for-10 shooting, was pleased that he went to the free-throw line 10 times (making six).
"I pride myself on getting to the line, even if my shot isn't falling," Gordon said.
Gordon looks forward to playing with L.A.'s new point guard.
"Me and Baron [Davis] have similar styles," Gordon said. "We can both play the one and the two and I'm going to do anything I can to help the team."
Augustin didn't score any more points and finished with two assists. He was happy with how he performed once his nerves calmed down.
"In the beginning, I was a little shaky," Augustin said. "This was my first time out. I did better as the game went on and I was trying to get the ball to my teammates."
Augustin is looking forward to working with first-year Bobcats coach Larry Brown.
"Coach Brown likes to teach and I'm learning a lot," Augustin said. "I was a little surprised the Bobcats drafted me, but I'm happy to be here."
Andre Iguodala, J.R. Smith and Marcus Camby were all in the house to watch the Nuggets blow out the Sixers in Game 3.
Just like I don't want to see Thornton play for the Clippers, I think the Sixers should shut down Thaddeus Young for the rest of the Vegas trip. He followed up yesterday's monster game by posting 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Anyone that is in their team's regular rotation, doesn't need to be here.
Marreese Speights played under more control today and finished all of his shots around the basket. The rookie missed just two of nine shots, scoring 14 and he grabbed five rebounds. The Sixers still need an outside shooter and nobody on the summer league roster appears ready to fill that void.
Watching how smooth Dahntay Jones plays, it is hard to believe that he has not had a better career. He has all of the tools. He paced the Nuggets with 21 points, hitting 8-for-15 from the floor.
The Bucks, who are playing their first game, are about to take the floor against the Grizzlies.
Milwaukee first-round pick Joe Alexander was active, but his numbers so far aren't pretty. Playing almost 18 minutes in the first half, he scored just five points and pulled down three rebounds. He missed six of his first seven attempts.
What a difference a night makes. Darrell Arthur couldn't miss on Friday, but he has made just 2 of 7 to start the game tonight. Meanwhile, one minute into the third period, O.J. Mayo has already taken the same amount of shots as he did all of yesterday. He is 4-for-10 from the floor for a game-high 12 points. Make or miss, there is no doubt his confidence is growing.
The Bucks keep leaving Mayo open in the corner and he keeps making them pay. He just hit back-to-back triples, giving him a game-high 23 points after three quarters.
Memphis' 88-79 win wraps up Day 2. Mayo tallied 26 points on 9-for-19 shooting (4 of 6 on 3s) and he cut his turnovers in half (4) from Friday.
Alexander made just 2 of 13 shots for a total of seven points.
By Maurice Brooks
The critics will look at the box score from O.J. Mayo's Vegas Summer League debut and see that he turned the ball over eight times.
They will point out that he only scored 15 points against watered-down competition.
They will say that he wasn't even the best Memphis rookie on the floor -- that honor goes to Darrell Arthur (18 points on 9-for-12 shooting).
And they will be right.
But the numbers on a piece of paper or a computer screen don't do Mayo's game justice.
They don't show how comfortable he was playing both the role of primary playmaker and No. 1 scoring option.
They don't show how hard he worked on the defensive end of the court.
They don't show how he learned from his mistakes and got better as the game went on.
The No. 3 pick in the draft made three steals, grabbed three rebounds, handed out five assists and shot 50 percent from the floor in the Grizzlies' 13-point win over the Hornets on Friday.
His coach was impressed.
"I'm very pleased with how he played defensively," Marc Iavaroni said. "He is very driven to be a great player. In the second half, he just slowed down a little bit and it's good to see growth from half to half."
Actually, it was more like quarter to quarter. After scoring just two points in the first quarter, he erupted for 10 in the second, including a crowd-pleasing stuff over Hilton Armstrong.
"I just wanted to play hard and win," said Mayo after the game. "I always feel I can do better. I put forth a lot of effort on defense."
What did catch Mayo off guard was the large crowd.
"I was nervous," said Mayo, who was heckled by a group of fans throughout the game. "I didn't expect there to be so many people at a summer league game."
Mayo worked well with fellow guards Javaris Crittenton and Mike Conley.
"In practice, we all work hard," Mayo said. "There is a lot of hustling and diving on the floor. We're trying to make each other better."
So far, so good.
The NBA Summer League is officially off and running with the Sixers and Warriors on the floor. This gives me a chance to get an up close and personal look at Philadelphia first-round pick Marreese Speights. His pro debut is off to a good start. He has been real active around the basket and after missing his first five shots, he has just rocked the rim three straight times as the Sixers have opened up a seven-point lead late in the second quarter.
Reminder, to those of you who can't make the trip to Las Vegas -- all of the games are being shown via webcast on NBA.com and 23 of the games can be seen on NBA TV.
Early observations from the opening game of the NBA Summer League:
Why is Golden State's C.J. Watson wearing a long-sleeve shirt under his jersey?
Maybe the Warriors should play all of their games at UNLV -- Marco Belinelli has already gotten a rise out of the fans by draining two long jumpers.
Although I don't have the official attendance numbers, there is a nice crowd in the building.
Bryon Russell -- yeah the one MJ shoved and the refs swallowed the whistle -- is in the crowd.
Halftime: Warriors 40, Sixers 38. Anthony Randolph is pacing Golden State with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting, while Thaddeus Young has 11 on 4-of-7 for Philly.
Randolph is playing with a ton of confidence. He just knocked down a jumper he had no business making and he has pulled down four rebounds. Although he was just called for a charge, he has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the cup.
Randolph made 12 of 18 shots from the floor.
With just over four minutes left to play and the Warriors up six, they may as well clear the floor and let Randolph and Young play one-on-one. Randolph just came down and fed his teammate for an easy basket. Young responded on the other end by attacking the basket and drawing a foul.
They are tied for game high honors in points with 24 each.
Game one of 53 is in the books. The Warriors, behind 30 points and eight rebounds from Randolph, stopped the Sixers 96-89. Brandan Wright was also a bundle of energy for the Warriors, blocking four shots to go with seven rebounds and 17 points.
Even though they lost, the Sixers have to be pleased with what they saw from Young, who finished with 27 points, and Speights, who went 7-for-19 from the floor, but had an impressive line of 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Here is what Young had to say after the game.
On Brand: "He is not only a good player, but he is a good person. With his addition, we'll be a much better half-court team. He is going to make it easier for everyone else."
On Speights: "I thought he did well and was very aggressive. We made a good pick."
Speights wasn't available to the media after the game.
Game 2 features the Hornets and Grizzlies. The arena is full and it is a safe assumption that the large crowd is here to see Memphis rookie O.J. Mayo.
Despite what some of the hecklers in the crowd are saying, Mayo is the goods. He is virtually impossible to stay in front of off the dribble and uses his body well to get his shot off. He scored 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting in the first half.
So far today there have been two signature moments and both involved Mayo. Mayo applied the finishing touches on a perfectly thrown lob pass from Michael Conley. The second was Mayo's made-for-tv right-hand jam on Hilton Armstrong's head. Not only did he draw the foul, it was almost like he announced to the rest of summer league that 'Hey, I can play well on this level.'
Mayo surprised some people with his solid defensive play.
Mayo isn't the only Memphis player having an outstanding pro debut. Darrell Arthur is showcasing the skills that will one day make him a starting power forward. The big man has demonstrated a nice outside shooting touch, scoring a game-high 16 points on 8 of 11 shooting.
Not that the winners or losers really matter at summer league, but the Grizzlies ran past the Hornets, 88-75. Arthur finished with 18 points, while Mayo scored 15 (5 of 10 from the field), gave out five dimes and grabbed three boards. The only negative on his outing were the eight turnovers.
Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni had nothing but good things to say about Arthur. "He was very efficient today," Iavaroni said. "He probably had the most impressive game of anyone."
Not a bad first game for a player that nobody seemed to want -- he was traded three times on draft night.
Meanwhile, the Hornets' Julian Wright probably wants to act like this game never happened. The second-year pro missed 13 of his 17 shot attempts and turned the ball over 11 times.
A quick glance at the rosters for the Lakers and Pistons told you all you needed to know about who was going to win. L.A. has a squad full of players who will be fighting to be invited to training camp, while Detroit's lineup features players who saw considerable time in the playoffs this past season.
Led by Rodney Stuckey, who starred at last year's summer league, the Pistons beat the Lakers 84-73. Stuckey didn't shoot well, missing nine of his 15 shots, but he finished with 21 points. Arron Afflalo added 15 and Amir Johnson had 12.
The Lakers were paced by Coby Karl's 14 points.
Finally, in the nightcap, the Clippers powered by NBA-ready Eric Gordon, have jumped out to a 12-4 advantage over the Mavericks. The Clippers easily have the biggest rooting section at summer league so far.
The Clippers have a 17-point lead at halftime despite the fact that Gordon is just 2-for-11 from the field. He has made 6 of 7 from the line and despite his poor shooting, stayed in attack mode.
Final: Clippers 86, Mavericks 69. Gordon shot it a little better in the second half, making 3 of 7 to finish 5 for 18. He led all scorers with 23 points, and also pulled down seven boards, but gave out just two assists. His numbers were saved by the fact he made 10 foul shots.