The Vegas Summer League kicked off with a bang as Anthony Randolph came into the arena and quickly displayed his immense talent. Randolph was focused on showing his offensive versatility with a variety of pull-up jumpers and drives and he added significant aggression for the Warriors in the paint. Don Nelson clearly liked what he saw, as Randolph finished with 30 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 8 rebounds in addition to shooting 12-18 from the field and 6-7 from the charity stripe. Sixers’ rookie Marreese Speights looked very solid in his debut and should be able to step into the rotation as one of the team’s big men, leaving an impression with the Vegas crowd with his several thunderous dunks. Speights was absolutely tenacious on the boards, finishing with 13 rebounds to go along with his 22 points.
Studs: Thaddeus Young was spectacular for the Sixers, finishing the game with 27 points on 10-20 shooting. He was basically able to do whatever he wanted on the court, blowing by less athletic defenders and imposing his strength in the post. It’s clear that he’s ready to step up for the team with increased minutes next season. Brandan Wright was really flying around on defense as his 4 blocked shots show in addition to his 7 rebounds. Wright was very efficient offensively, finishing with 17 points on 5-7 shooting; many of his points came from the line, where he was 7-10. Jason Smith showed some range on his jumper, playing well for the Sixers with his 11 points and 9 rebounds. Louis Amundson struggled offensively, but established himself on the boards with 8 rebounds and played very solid individual defense in the paint.
Duds: Although CJ Watson finished with nice stats, he turned the ball over 6 times and wasn’t very efficient on offense, shooting 4-11. Watson has a lot of talent and certainly is a possibility to be Monta Ellis’ backup, but he’ll have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball in the team’s next game. Junior Harrington wasn’t bad for the Sixers, but he wasn’t nearly aggressive enough, only taking 2 shots and netting 1 assist and 1 rebound. Tamar Slay of the Warriors finished with 5 turnovers himself; Slay has bounced around in the NBA and played in Italy last season, making his name as a productive scorer, so he should bounce back in the Warriors’ next contest as well.
Welcome to the NBA, OJ Mayo. With plenty of eyes on Mayo’s first game as a professional, he didn’t disappoint, scoring 15 points, nabbing 3 steals, and dishing 5 assists. He was under control the entire game and did really look like he could step into an NBA contest and hold his own. It won’t show up in any box score, but Mayo’s defensive intensity was absolutely stellar, especially one particular play in which the Grizzlies employed full-court pressure and Mayo forced a turnover. His posterization of Hornets’ center Hilton Armstrong sent the crowd in a frenzy and quieted one particular heckler in crowd that kept chanting “overrated” when Mayo was at the line.
Studs: Apparently, Darrell Arthur has a chip on his shoulder. After falling all the way down to the 27th pick in the first round, Arthur came out looking to prove something tonight; he finished the game leading the Griz with 18 points on 9-12 shooting and had 2 steals along with 3 boards and 2 assists. PJ Tucker came out of nowhere to finish with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals for the Griz; a built 6-5, 225 pounds, Tucker played in Israel last season after playing the 2006-07 season with the Raptors. Mike Conley also let his star shine for the Grizzlies, finishing with 14 points on 5-9 shooting to go along with his 6 assists.
Duds: Hornets’ head coach Byron Scott told media in New Orleans that he wanted to see big things out of Julian Wright during the Summer League. Scott specifically wanted to see Wright develop the skills needed to be a point-forward in the league, seeing an improvement of his jumpshot and driving ability. That didn’t happen for Wright in this particular game, as he finished with 12 points on 4-17 from the field to go with his 5 rebounds and 2 assists; he also had an astounding 11 turnovers. Wright is definitely capable of much, much more and will likely be much better in the team’s next game. Hilton Armstrong didn’t assert the dominance that Coach Scott wanted to see either, finishing 3-9 from the field for his 13 points; he grabbed nine boards.
In a game primarily dominated by his superior Pistons squad, Rodney Stuckey came to take over the game. Stuckey finished the game with 21 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds and was relatively efficient, shooting 6-17 and going 9-10 from the field. Lakers’ second-round pick Joe Craford seemed to struggle with the rhythm of a higher-paced game, leading to 4 turnovers, but he did finish with 9 points on 2-4 shooting. Pat Calathes, a standout wing player from St. Joseph’s, did not play for the Lakers
Studs: Joe Dumars couldn’t have asked for anything more from Amir Johnson, who only played for just under 17 minutes but was flat-out productive, finishing with 12 points on 5-5 shooting as well as grabbing 4 boards and notching 2 steals. Rookie Trent Plaisted also was solid for the Pistons in the low block, consistently boxing out his opponents under the rim and playing very good post defense. He finished with 10 points (4-5 shooting), and 5 rebounds. Lastly, Arron Afflalo had a nice game as well, shooting 6-14 from the field for his 15 points; he also had 2 steals and 3 rebounds. Coby Karl led the Lakers with 14 points, knocking down two of his four three-pointers, and had 4 rebounds as well as three assists and a steal.
Duds: Cheikh Samb, who Dumars really likes because of the work he has put in the gym since being drafted two years ago, didn’t perform well offensively on the block. Considering most of his shots were near the basket, his 3-12 shooting performance shows a need to improve offensively. He isn’t going to get many opportunities on offense in any case, so he must convert the chances he gets.
The final game of the night was not as close as the final score indicated, as the Clippers really had the better squad. Led by Eric Gordon’s 23 points, the Clippers were out and running throughout the game. Gordon played a nice game for the Clippers but missed a lot of his jump shots in the first half, shooting 2-11. He’s got an NBA-ready body and he’s very and the Clippers genuinely believe he will be able to step in and contribute right away as Cuttino Mobley’s backup. Although Gordon’s jumpshot wasn’t falling, he found a way to score, getting to the line 11 times, converting 10 of his opportunities. Gerald Green played well for Dallas, although his shot wasn’t falling much, either. But he stayed persistent and also got to the line a bunch of times, finishing with 12 points.
Studs: Who needs Corey Maggette? Al Thornton is the real deal; after a stellar rookie season with the Clippers, Thornton is clearly ready to step into the starting lineup next season. Thornton was a beast, finishing with 20 points and 7 rebounds and he shot 6-10 from the field. Rookie DeAndre Jordan also had a nice showing for the Clippers, going 3-4 from the field for 6 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. Shan Foster, the rookie shooter for the Mavericks, came in and knocked down some shots off the bench for Dallas.
Duds: A lot of Mavs fans e-mailed their excitement about veteran point guard Keith McLeod joining the Summer League team, but he had a forgettable showing, scoring only 3 points, all from the charity stripe. He missed all five of his shots and only grabbed one rebound; as a veteran presence on this squad, he’s good for the team to stay steady, but he must increase his individual production. James Singleton of the Mavericks didn’t play all too well, either, finishing with 5 turnovers and only 13 points on his 6-13 shooting.
Preetom Bhattacharya is the Senior Newslines editor and has covered the NBA for HoopsWorld for three years
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