The Indiana Pacers’ Summer League team is, simply put, awful. They won this game behind some nice play from Earl Calloway and Josh Davis, but winning the game had more to do with how poorly OKC shot the ball from the field and the foul line.
The Oklahoma squad featured the biggest names of the game with second-year pro Jeff Green anchoring the squad that also featured rookies DJ White and Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was the star of the game, handling the ball like a seasoned pro and looking every bit the part of a player deserving of a #4 overall draft pick. Westbrook shot 7-13 from the field, but his stats are misleading. His shot just doesn’t look good leaving his hands.
The opening game of the Orlando Summer League was interesting. Be on the look out for Kevin Durant to make an OKC Summer League appearance; he was in attendance for the first game and Jeff Green told HoopsWorld and HoopsHype.com, that he expected KD to play at some point this week.
Studs: For Indiana, Earl Calloway looked stellar running the show. It might be because his teammates were somewhat average, but his seven assists lead the game and his teammates played hard as a result of his unselfish play. For Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook looked outstanding, and several NBA scouts marveled at how under control he was throughout the entire game. Westbrook has the complete package for a point guard, he’s just got to work on the mechanics of his shot. Jeff Green looked like a veteran, but you could see that OKC wants him to work on his handle in transition. He explained his role on this squad as trying to do some different things, and his 6-16 shooting and five turnovers were a big reason the OKC squad lost the game.
Duds: For the OKC squad, there were two guys that should have shown better, as they are capable. Nick Lewis is an incredibly good player, but his 1-4 shooting and four rebounds is not enough for a double-digit rebound guy like Lewis. Ndudi Ebi was on the floor a lot for OKC, logging over 14 game minutes, but his 2-6 and one rebound were far from impressive for the former first round pick of the Timberwolves. For Indiana, Stanley Burrell is far better than his 1-1 from the field stat line suggests. Stanley logged only seven minutes, and will need to do more to earn his shot.
The Pacers squad is lacking its true rookie star power as Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert are not officially Pacers yet, and neither is expected to join the team this week. As a result, the Pacers have the least impressive roster - but for now a perfect record.
In what was billed as Derrick Rose versus Michael Beasley, the game was hardly about either of the first two picks in June’s draft. Rose was clearly rattled in his first game, while Beasley, who was matched up with Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah most of the day, shot the ball like he was on a playground - jacking up shot after shot. Miami was stellar behind Beasley, who has a knack for the game that is truly impressive. His feel for the game and natural instinct were far and away better than any player on the court in Orlando, knowing where to be in almost every situation. Beasley never outworked his guy to spots on the floor; he simply beat his guy there on instinct. Effortless is an understatement on how good Beasley is on the basketball court. Rose, on the other hand, was clearly fighting the system, trying to understand what was being asked of him rather than simply playing. In the second half, the real Rose showed up and made things interesting for the Heat summer squad. After the game both “stars” played their roles. Derrick was calm and collected and humble, while Michael’s “Beaze” persona was on full display. The common statement made by the media – “Mike doesn’t understand we’re not laughing with him, we’re laughing at him.”
Studs: On the Miami side it was Mario Chalmers who was amazing, he tied Derrick Rose up in knots and made things easy for his teammates. His stat line doesn’t give his performance a lot of justice – 2-8 from the field, 1-3 from three-point range, it was his 6 assists and 4 steals that made the biggest impact. Michael Beasley was the expected stud of the game, but his 9- 21 shooting and two assist show his problem. He admitted after the game that he didn’t think he got enough assists or rebounds, but for a first showing, he was every bit as good as advertised. On the Chicago side, the surprise was Demetris Nichols, who was a man on a mission. Despite being on the floor with Noah and Thomas, Nichols attacked the basket hard and made a lot of nice plays. Rose played nice in the second half, but as a whole he was less than expected. He has a lot to build on for Game 2.
Duds: On the Miami side, Josh Duncan did nothing to help his cause, shooting 0 for 5 from the field in 19 minutes of play. Josh is a far better player than his stat line showed; he’ll need to put up numbers to even be a blip on the radar in Orlando. On the Chicago side, Rose’s first half had a lot of people questioning him as the top pick, he picked it up in the second half. Aaron Gray was a dud in Game 1 despite a solid year in Chicago last year. In 7 minutes he was 0 for 3 from the field and no rebounds. Not exactly the message to send to a new coaching staff who was watching every play from the bench.
Post game was really the “interesting” part of the game; Beasley and Rose were brought into the media, which was a first for the Orlando Summer league. Rose was his typical humble self saying very little. Beasley on the other hand explained that the Heat players were jawing at him because he was signing on the floor, when asked to elaborate Beasley said he was signing his “happy song” and just felt like singing. Welcome To Beasley’s World.
The last game of the night featured the host team versus New Jersey. The Nets brought in far more star power, and the final score reflected just how much better the talent level was for New Jersey, bringing in three 2008 draft picks. Sean Williams has really come a long way for New Jersey from being the star struck rookie in Orlando last year, to being a real monster on both ends of the floor for the Nets. The Magic squad featured top pick Courtney Lee and playoff contributor Marcin Gortat. The game was something of a snoozer compared to the Beasley/Rose match up, but both squads featured some interesting storylines. New Jersey brought in Yuta Tabuse, the Japanese sensation; he played well, but is unlikely to crack a roster spot in the league. Orlando dusted off Derrick Byars, and got 15 points on 6-13 shooting.
Studs: For Orlando, Lee played very well, shooting the ball nicely in the first half. The second half was not as kind, but Courtney ended the night with 13 points on 5-11 shooting. For New Jersey, Chris Douglas-Roberts showed up big going 7-14, trying to prove a point to those that passed on him. Jaycee Carroll was the Nets’ top scorer with 22 points on 7-13 shooting.
Duds: On the Nets side, top pick Brook Lopez played for more than 19 minutes, and notched exactly zero rebounds and 5 personal fouls – a seven footer has to get at least one rebound, right? On Orlando’s side, Gortat was a contributor in the playoffs for Orlando. He logged a monster 30 minutes, and scored 6 points and grabbed just 8 rebounds, not exactly blowing the doors off.
Day two gets underway in Orlando tomorrow at 3pm EST. You can check out the games at Orlandomagic.com, and if you have not caught the on-air antics of George and Daunte it is seriously the best-worst broadcasting you’ll ever hear and really turned out to be fun in a Mystery Science Theater kind of way.
Steve Kyler serves is the editor and publisher of HoopsWorld and HoopsWorld Magazine
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