It sounded like, “All day! All day!” as a fan screamed from the stands at the Thomas & Mack Center in the first game of the second day of action at the NBA Summer League on Saturday.
He was really yelling, “All Daye!” as in Austin Daye, Detroit’s first-round draft pick. The “e” in his name may be silent, but his game certainly is not.
It literally was all Daye as the 6-foot-11 forward selected No. 15 out of Gonzaga played all 40 minutes for the Pistons (after playing just 19 minutes on Friday), tying fellow rookie DaJuan Summers for the team lead in points with 19 and also swiping eight rebounds.
“He has a chance to be a real nice basketball player,” Pistons summer league head coach Darrell Walker said. “That’s going to come with age and Arnie [Kander].”
Kander is Detroit’s legendary strength and conditioning coach charged with bulking up the lithe 200-pound Daye the same way he helped pad the frame of Tayshaun Prince when he entered the league in 2002.
Daye is the latest summer league participant to be scrutinized for his skinniness. Last summer it was Golden State’s Anthony Randolph. Two years ago it was Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. Instead of questioning his weight, Daye left the packed gym marveling at his length. Standing nearly 7-foot with an even longer wingspan, Daye is the type of guy who can scratch his shins without bending his knees.
Daye, whose father Darren played for the Celtics in the ‘80s, credited his dad for stressing the importance of his all-around game even after he grew from a 6-foot-2 point guard as a freshman in high school to the sky scraper he is now.
On Saturday his skill set was on full display from shooting from deep (2-for-4 from three), to getting a dunk after collecting an offensive rebound, to knocking down a midrange jumper off the glass from the short corner to even dishing out two Steve Nash-style assists in the first quarter (a one-handed whip off the pick and roll and a thread-the-needle bounce on the fastbreak).
Walker said that other than Daye improving his body, the rookie needs work on defense. Daye was matched up with Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, the No. 9 pick in the draft, and DeRozan finished with 20 points on 9-for-20 shooting.
However, Walker pointed out that the notion of the 6-foot-11 Daye even being up for the challenge of guarding the 6-foot-7 DeRozan, who is listed as a small forward but plays a lot of two guard, is a sign of good things to come.
“I did a lot of different things today,” Daye said. “I was dedicated to get my shot ready for the game early this morning. We did a good job of that and it showed in the game today.”
GAME 1: Detroit Pistons (2-0) 91, Toronto Raptors (0-2) 87
STUDS: If there has been one player who has established himself as a second-round steal after the second day of action, it’s been Detroit’s DaJuan Summers without a doubt. Summers, who wears No. 35 to represent the spot where he was finally nabbed in the draft, racked up 19 points and six rebounds on Saturday after going for 24 and seven on Friday. Standing at 6-foot-8, 240-pounds, Summers is one of the more physically mature rookies out there and uses his size well after banging around the Big East for three seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas.
All of Motown’s fresh faces played well. Jonas Jerebko, the Pistons other second-round pick (No. 39) out of Sweden was very active, racking up 12 points, seven rebounds, three steals and comparisons to the Knicks’ David Lee by Detroit’s coaching staff. Team officials say that Deron Washington, a second-round pick last year, has a good shot to make the regular season roster. Racking up 13 points, six rebounds, a steal and a block certainly helps that cause.
DeRozan, who had a ho-hum debut with 10 points on 5-for-12 shooting and three turnovers, shot better from the field in his second game and had zero turnovers in 35 minutes. He showed subtle command of the game with little things like using screens and taking good angles, but his jump shot still needs some work as he has a tendency to short arm his attempts.
DUDS: There was a running joke being circulated around the gym that went, “You know it’s Summer League if Smush Parker is on the court.” That about sums it up. The former Lakers point guard had more fouls (seven) than points (six) and also had an unfavorable assist-turnover ratio with three miscues compared to two dimes.
STUDS: Only one member of the Lakers championship team is playing on its summer league entry and he didn’t play a single minute during the playoffs. Adam Morrison is playing like the Ammo of old before his left knee injury sabotaged the better part of the second and third years of his young career. Morrison led all scorers with 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting – including 4-for-6 from downtown – after scoring 24 points in Los Angeles’ first game on Friday. While his point totals have been impressive, the most striking aspect of Morrison’s game has been his extreme confidence. He is embracing the role as L.A.’s go-to guy.
Equally efficient from outside was Cleveland’s Danny Green. Selected out of North Carolina with the No. 46 pick, Green was a reliable three-point shooter in college (42 percent) and appears to already have adjusted to the deeper three of the pro game after knocking down 4-of-6 attempts against the Lakers.
“It’s a shock to most kids because it’s a lot further than you expect it to be,” Green said. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound swingman said he hopes to make the team so he can apply his shooting ability to the open looks that are bound to surface when opposing defenses key in on LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal. “If I make the team, they will make the game a lot easier for me,” Green said. “I won’t have to worry about guys being all tight on me saying, ‘He’s a shooter!’ They’ll have to worry about LeBron and Shaq. I’m not a big offensive threat, but if I’m open, I can be.”
DUDS: Christian Eyenga, the Cavs first-round pick out of the Congo, was touted for his athleticism and ideal 6-foot-6 frame for a guard but he did not look comfortable in his debut. The 20 year old was 0-for-4 from the field and finished with just one point against two fouls and two turnovers.
GAME 3: Golden State Warriors (1-1) 98 vs. Sacramento Kings (1-1) 95 (OT)
STUDS: Stephen Curry scored 15 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead a furious comeback by the Warriors who trailed by as many as 10 points after Marcus Landry, Carl Landry’s younger brother, hit consecutive threes at the start of the fourth.
Curry’s clutch flurry featured several pressure-packed free throws, an array of long jumpers and even a steal-turned coast-to-coast layup as he shook off an early left ankle tweak that caused him to miss most of the first quarter. He missed a potential game-winning 15-footer at the end of regulation that didn’t even draw iron, but that didn’t deter him from continuing to control the ball in overtime.
“You have to step up in big-time situations,” Curry said. “I airballed the last shot but I was able to come back and keep my confidence and play straight through it. My teammates had the confidence in me to tell me to keep shooting and keep staying aggressive. I draw a lot of attention and it opens up the lanes for them.”
One of those teammates who benefited was Cartier Martin (yes, like the watch), who played in the D-League before being called up by the Bobcats last season, played for Golden State’s team as a favor to Larry Brown because Charlotte is not fielding a Summer League team. Instead of merely fitting in with his temporary teammates, Martin shined, scoring 27 points on an efficient 15 shot attempts along with a 10-for-11 mark from the line. Second-year forward Anthony Randolph was quite simply the most dominant player on the court. Randolph finished with 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting, 11 rebounds, two steals and five blocks. His midrange jumper has improved dramatically since last year’s Summer League appearance.
The Kings had a pair of second-year frontcourt players starting in Donte Greene (12 points, seven rebounds) and Jason Thompson (17 and five) but it was their rookie point guard, No. 4 pick Tyreke Evans, who stole the show. Evans used a crossover dribble to get into the lane at will and at 6-foot-6, 220-pounds he was able to absorb contact and finish at the rim. He still played with more of a scorer’s mentality than a point guard’s (25 points on a team-high 19 shot attempts) but he was able to rack up five assists after blowing by his man.
DUDS: Two years ago he was supposed to be the Hawks future at the point, now he’s a backup on the Warriors Summer League squad. Acie Law IV was 0-for-4 from the field in just 12 minutes and didn’t even get to wear his namesake jersey number as Randolph wears No. 4 so he had to go with No. 2. He’s half the man he used to be.
GAME 4: Houston Rockets (2-0) 98 vs. Dallas Mavericks (0-1) 95
STUDS: The nickname “French Flash” might already be taken by Tony Parker, but it will have to go on loan for at least a day to Mavericks first-round pick Rodrigue Beaubois (pronounced boo-BWAH). Taken with the No. 25 pick by Oklahoma City and traded to Dallas on Draft night, the 6-foot waterbug of a guard shook off a wretched debut (eight points, eight fouls, six turnovers) with 34 points, giving him the high scoring mark through the first two days worth of games in Vegas.
Beaubois was all over the court, scoring on drives in both transition and the halfcourt set. He even banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key but couldn’t get a three from the corner to go on the game’s final possession to force overtime. He added a game-high eight assists to boot.
Chase Budinger bounced back from a shaky first game to drop in 25 points on 9-for-10 shooting. As a second-round pick he will be competing with James White (six points, 2-for-6 shooting) as a wing competing for a fringe roster spot on the Rockets. Joey Dorsey, who could see some playing time at center next season with Yao Ming out indefinitely with a foot injury, racked up 13 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks.
DUDS: Luke Jackson, who has already had stints with the Cavaliers, Clippers, Raptors, Heat and Trail Blazers after being drafted No. 10 by Cleveland in 2004 is now giving it a go with the Mavericks. The 6-foot-7 forward shot just 3-for-11 from the field and adopted a mock cheering section in the crowd that would feign wild enthusiasm whenever he touched the ball.
Dave McMenamin is an NBA writer based out of Los Angeles covering the Lakers and Clippers and is a special correspondent for HOOPSWORLD.