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Rough start for Curry
by Yannis Koutroupis / July 11, 2009

Stephen Curry - Steve KylerDay 1 of the Las Vegas Summer League was a lot like looking at an unfinished painting. The talent level is undeniable, but with teams having very little time to practice together things were unpolished to say the least. There were 37 turnovers a game and afterwards everyone pointed towards the unfamiliarity with their teammates and the limited preparation. The best is definitely yet to come in Las Vegas, but even with that said there were some players who really stood out and some who didn’t:

GAME 1: Golden State Warriors (0-1) 69, Houston Rockets (1-0) 73

STUDS: James White took the challenge of guarding Stephen Curry right out of the gate, giving him a lot of trouble with his length and athleticism. There were a couple different occasions where Stephen just could not get a quality shot off because White played textbook defense. White also showed off his improved jump shot, connecting on 3-7 from the field while also pulling down five rebounds.

Anthony Randolph came out with a vengeance in the first half, scoring 16 points before slowing down significantly in the second half. Randolph’s incredible versatility was on full display though as he often led the break after grabbing the rebound and hit several jump shots from well outside the paint. Still, after finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds Warriors General Manager Larry Harris was yearning for more.

“He was active and he tried to get in a position to take a charge a couple of times but you get nine fouls in a game like this you’re not quite ready to play defense,” stated Harris. “I expect a better performance tomorrow candidly.”

DUDS: Cox Pavilion was full of Stephen Curry supporters hoping to see one of his vintage performances that made him a household name at Davidson. Instead they saw Stephen struggle with his jump shot and point guard duties. It’s very understandable for Curry, who is still developing as a lead guard, to have issues playing alongside a group of guys he’s completely unfamiliar with. He’ll undoubtedly improve as the camp proceeds because Stephen is much better than his 4-14 shooting with seven fouls and four turnovers indicate.

GAME 2: Sacramento Kings (0-1) 77, Detroit Pistons (1-0) 86

STUDS: There were a lot of general managers shaking their heads wishing for a mulligan on last month’s draft as DaJuan Summers was the star of the second game. Summers, who was selected 35th overall, was unstoppable with 24 points. The aggression Summers displayed in attacking the rim was a welcomed sight after watching him camp beyond the arc far too much this past season at Georgetown. Summers shot just one three pointer and also grabbed seven rebounds, leaving Joe Dumars with a big smile on his face.

DUDS: The expectations are fairly high for Jason Thompson’s development in Sacramento, but on Friday he failed to assert himself the way he should have. There’s no reason for a player with the talent Thompson has to only pull down three rebounds, especially considering how much power forward he’s likely going to be playing. He did tie Tyreke Evans with a team-high 15 points, but Thompson’s capable of producing more than he did.

Omri Casspi had an underwhelming effort for a 1st round pick, logging just six points and three assists along with five turnovers. After the game Paul Westphal made light of his lackluster debut though, citing that Casspi is far from being in game shape. If anything Friday will serve as a motivator for Casspi to put in some extra time with his conditioning because the Pistons frequently attacked him.

GAME 3: Toronto Raptors (0-1) 84 vs. Los Angeles Lakers (1-0) 85

STUDS: Adam Morrison’s confidence grew by the minute in his first extended action in several months. Morrison won the head-to-head battle with DeMar DeRozan on both sides of the court, even coming up with some key defensive stops against him to lock up the victory. Offensively Morrison did the things that made him an All-American at Gonzaga: taking whatever the defender gave him. Morrison did a multitude of things, from moving without the ball to attacking the paint.

The surprise of the day was definitely the play of Ben McCauley from North Carolina State. It was like it was McCauley’s sophomore season all over again as he worked the Toronto Raptors to the tune of 24 points and 15 rebounds. He was very efficient in doing so as well, hitting 12 of 19 from the field. His performance on Friday made him a must-watch player for the duration of the camp.

DUDS: DeMar DeRozan, the youngest player on the floor, looked a lot like he did during the early portion of his freshman season at USC. He was passive to a fault early on, making Adam Morrison look like a force defensively. On the defensive side of the court he let Morrison attack him far too often. Overall DeRozan did just not look comfortable, which is understandable considering his age and lack of experience. By July 19th this performance will be nothing more than an afterthought.

GAME 4: Dallas Mavericks (0-1) 59 vs. Milwaukee Bucks (1-0) 65

STUDS: Ahmad Nivins looked like an absolute steal for the Dallas Mavericks against the Bucks, missing just twice on the night en route to a 19 point performance. Nivins’ aggressiveness never wavered throughout the night as he constantly went at every defender the Bucks threw at him. Along with being nearly perfect offensively Nivins also put in good work on the boards, finishing the game with six.

Fellow 2nd round pick Jodie Meeks also put in a strong performance, recording a team-high 14 points with his picture perfect jump shot. Meeks admitted afterwards that he battled nerves early on, but you couldn’t tell as he was one of the best Bucks on the floor. Anyone who still questions his decision to stay in the draft should really think twice because Meeks certainly looked ready to contribute on Friday.

DUDS: The Richard Jefferson trade left minutes at the small forward position that are basically Joe Alexander’s for the taking. It was apparent that the Bucks really wanted to run through Alexander, but he could just no get it going offensively. Alexander missed 14 of his 18 attempts and didn’t fare a whole lot better on the defensive side of the court. The looks were there for Alexander, he just needs to convert.

Brandon Jennings predictably showed signs of rust after playing more than he has in the past year. Like Alexander Jennings could not buy a bucket for most of the night. The shooting touch is going to come around though, as will his playmaking abilities as he gains a better understanding of his teammates’ tendencies. Statistics couldn’t be less important for Jennings though, who hasn’t seen these kind of minutes since he was in high school. If Jennings leaves here comfortable with Joe Alexander, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Jodie Meeks than he did what the coaching staff needs him to.

Yannis Koutroupis is a radio co-host/producer for ESPN Corpus Christi and covers the San Antonio Spurs and NCAA basketball for HOOPSWORLD.