TrueHoop: Trent Plaisted
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
- The Knicks' Toney Douglas continued to struggle shooting the ball, but he performed his primary function as floor general quite well. He gave the Knicks what they needed at the point -- game management, penetration and kicking, creating for others, and, most of all, solid on-ball defense at that position. Douglas now has 21 assists to only two turnovers in his two games. Not bad for a guy who started out as a combo guard.
- Jordan Hill is at his strongest when he's facing up to the basket, but too often he rushes himself when he has the ball in the post. Several times on Wednesday, he lost track of where he was on the block, then flung an off-balanced shot up from close range. Hill also seemed a little passive as a post defender, even against the likes of Trent Plaisted. Hill stayed in close proximity on defense to his assigned man, but rarely tried to knock his guy off his spot. In general, the closer Hill was to the basket, the less comfortable he was.
- You have to love a player who's useful at any spot on the court. Austin Daye is that guy for Detroit. He's a new wave three -- able to work as the ballhandler on the pick-and-roll, drive to the cup from the perimeter, post up against most small forwards, use a screen the right way, and hit from long range. Against the Knicks on Wednesday, he finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
- DaJuan Summers was the butter and egg man down low for the Pistons. I can't quite figure out whether to classify him as a small or power forward. IMG's Mike Moreau referred to him as a "Power 3." Whatever he is, Summers continued to leverage his ability to face up for opportunities to get inside. There's a lot of offensive weaponry there, and he can clean the glass, too. His scoring line: 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field, and 5-for-7 from the stripe.
- Joe Alexander did a much better job off-the-ball finding space on the floor where teammates could hit him for open looks -- not just on the perimeter, but in Scola-territory along the baseline at 15 feet. The Alexander-Taj Gibson matchup was an interesting one and it was anything but a pitching duel. Alexander finished 9-for-16 from the field, Gibson 6-for-9. Gibson was able to exploit his length against Alexander, while Alexander used his versatility and triple-threat skills to beat Gibson. Meanwhile, Gibson became the second player in Summer League to rack up 10 fouls. The Spurs' Ian Mahinmi was the first Tuesday against Denver. Gibson now has 19 fouls in two games.
- Summer League is the perfect setting for an athlete like Amir Johnson to show off his wares under the basket. Johnson was an efficiency machine inside for the Bucks: 17 points on 11 possessions, along with eight rebounds. He owned the paint, gobbling up offensive boards, going up strong with the putbacks, either converting or getting fouled (11 free throw attempts for the game). Defensively, he was smart and physical, blocking shots and igniting breaks with sharp, quick outlet passes to Brandon Jennings.
- After sitting out Phoenix's first Summer League game on Monday with back spasms, Earl Clark displayed his full range of skills in his inaugural effort on Wednesday. He initiates the bulk of his offense along the perimeter, but he can do so many things from there to disarm the defense: a pretty touch pass into the post off a dish from his point guard, a catch-and-shoot, a dribble drive and pass-off that results in a hockey assist. He also showed his defensive flexibility, bothering guards and bigs alike.
- DeMar DeRozan is far more polished than advertised. He uses his quickness to build his game. As Mike Moreau said in David Thorpe's twitter thread, "Demar DeRozan really comes off the curl with speed, balance and elevation-very controlled. Will come off a decade's worth of pindowns." He also rarely takes a bad shot -- uncommon among rookies and in Summer League, and particularly uncommon among rookies in Summer League.
- Jason Thompson was an entirely different player Wednesday. He claimed his spot down on the block, called for the ball, forced the action off the dribble, made hard back cuts when he was fronted, backed his guy in with force when he wasn't, and worked his tuchus off on the offensive glass. His totals: 31 points and 10 rebounds.
- Tyreke Evans didn't start for the Kings against the D-League Select team, and was very deferential when he checked in at the start of the second quarter and throughout the second half. He went 1-for-5 from the field, 3-for-4 from the line, with three assists in 23 minutes. Despite the off night, the change of speed on his dribble-drives was still ungodly.
- Chase Budinger has a beautiful stride into his catch-and-shoot motion -- we know that -- but Wednesday night he also showed the athleticism to put it on the deck, weave through traffic, and finish strongly. He moved well without the ball to get open looks, and even absorbed a few bumps on defense to stay in front of his man, something he'll have to do this fall to stay in the Rockets' rotation.
- Andray Blatche continues to be one of the most confounding talents in the league. He flashed moments of sheer dominance Wednesday night with swift, whirling post moves off good recognition that made his defenders look silly. At other times, he tried to improvise and failed spectacularly. Blatche could be a top-shelf talent, but his preference for raw instinct over tactical strategy on a given play renders him inconsistent. He needs a plan. Still, between the potent face-up game at the top of the key, and the fancy footwork and explosiveness down low, it's hard to take your eyes off him. Let's see how he fares this season against NBA talent.
- Dante Cunningham: NBA body, NBA aggressiveness, NBA defense ... NBA player? He didn't put up the most efficient line of the night (22 points on 23 possessions), but his physicality made the Rockets' defense work. He often chose to back his defender in with a dribble or two, then launch a mid-range jumper with good elevation. When he recognized there was something better, he'd build a head of steam and get to the rim. More than anything, he was out there with a purpose, moving with the offense, mindful of where Jerryd Bayless was at all times.
The Pistons' order of the Daye
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
- Austin Daye has been playmaker extraordinaire for Detroit. On the Pistons' first possession Saturday, he whipped a sharp pass from the perimeter to Trent Plaisted underneath for an easy two. On his team's second sequence, he took his man straight off the dribble to the rack for a layup. A minute later, on a pop-out, Daye nailed a silky 3-pointer. A few possessions later, he flew in from the weak side for an offensive rebound and a vicious putback slam. And that was only the first eight minutes. For all the talk about Daye lacking an NBA body, it's hard not to draw the comparison to another lanky, versatile Pistons small forward who's done well for himself in the league.
- DaJuan Summers: Picked up where he left off Friday. After posting 24 points on 18 possessions along with seven rebounds Friday, Summers again worked his inside-out game for the Pistons on Saturday to the tune of 19 points and six rebounds. Summers executes that inside-out game with smarts. He recognizes mismatches in the halfcourt. Against a slower defender, he drives to the hole. Faced up against a shorter guy, he'll get separation and launch a jumper.
- Anthony Randolph should have a Summer League exemption. It's really not even fair to the rest of the competition: 24 points on 10-of-13 from the field, 11 boards, five blocks. We saw him finish with his right, run the break in transition coast to coast, post, shoot from the perimeter. It was the full Randolph canvas on Saturday, and he's far and away the best talent here over the first two days.
- David Thorpe on the process that combo guards like Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry will have to endure to make the transition to point guard: "Some guys have the gift, but there are 30 starting point guards in the NBA and not all of them have it. Chris Paul and Steve Nash do. But Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups aren't great passers, yet they're great point guards. It took Chauncey four teams to figure out how to play point. Will Evans figure it out? Possibly. But that's up to him, his willingness to learn, and also the organization. You can teach it, but you have to put strategies and structures in place to make that happen. You can't let him run free at the expense of learning how to run the team. That's on the team and the coaching staff."
- On a day when the Mavs inked future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd to a three-year deal, the best point guard in Las Vegas was Dallas rookie Roddy Beaubois. He dazzled, scoring 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting from the field (7-of-12 from 3-point range), recorded eight assists against only two turnovers. "He brings us a different dimension," Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said. "We don't have this kind of angular speed, or supreme-type athlete at the point guard position right now. So he gives us a different look." Carlisle was cautious in his praise. It's only Beaubois' second NBA game, and he still has to learn how to play an NBA brand of defense. "When you come from a mid-league in Europe to the NBA, you have to ratchet up your level of awareness," Carlisle said.
- Personal highlight of the day: I happened to have iTunes open on my laptop before the first game. David Brody, who works for the Summer League and has been at the controls for music in the Cox Pavilion, informed me that my playlists were showing up under the shared list in his iTunes. He offered to let me put together a playlist for the day to be played during warmups and timeouts. Of course, I happily obliged. Featured artists included Eric B. & Rakim, Z-Trip, James Brown, Le Tigre, De La Soul, and Daft Punk.