I've seen a vision of my life...And I wanna be delivered...In the city was a sinner...I've done a lot of things wrong...But I swear I'm a believer...Like the prodigal son I was out on my own...Now I'm trying to find my way back home...Baptized in the river...I'm delivered I'm delivered
That could be one way of looking at the Summer League. After all it's the first glimpse of young talent for the masses to say: "Yeah, that guy I always knew was gonna be great." So step up. Own it. Whether it's Jason Thompson's two Game Winning shots in Summer League, or Douby's 36 he dropped on the Summer League Dubs (they don't have much success guarding him do they?), or perhaps disappointment in the Spencer Hawes (Experience?) showing. Maybe Mike Singletary was worth noting, and perhaps Patrick Ewing Jr confirmed your suspicions on why he was drafted in the first place. To be honest, and this is the way I feel after a day to gather my thoughts, I think none of those things.
Where do I think Summer League stands? The same way Mini-Camp does in the NFL. It's a building block for the player, and the team, but it means nothing without the real games. The real games are where the real talent is. The real games are where the real challenges are. You can simulate that all you want, but the best players in the world don't play during July. They're still recovering from the longest, and most physically brutal, basketball league in the world. The best basketball players play during November to June, and that's where the real knowledge drops. That being said my ears perked up. I enjoyed the experience, and I am glad I partaked the first 4 games, and unfortunately missed the 5th.
Spencer Hawes seems to be the biggest universal disapointment. But as Section pointed out, Spencer perhaps will block more shots than anyone for the Kings has since Vlade Divac swatted over 100 shots in 2003. (Keon Clark blocked 150 shots that year, but he was a one year wonder. Does he really count?) So, while he shot like crap, and generally showed poor offensive judgment, and needed to add bulk, and is showing signs of taking Brad Baby and Vlade's demeanor toward the Zebra's, and that is alot to be disappointed in I suppose, but personally I find the failure enlightening. We knew it would take time, and did you think one magic summer would cure that? Please, I don't think anyone was expecting that. I do think that the 2 most important things Spencer did was: Move and shoot alot, if not well, and play alot of minutes without any real side effects in his conditioning or hint of past injuries. That's what I suspect the Kings were most interested in, and they'll let the other stuff work itself out as he gets more comfortable, older, and stronger. That's where I'm at with Spencer.
Sean Singletary had a tough job. First he had to show he could distribute, and then when he started to do that, he had to show he could still score at the same time. Tough task for the kid, and Summer League is a place to start the learning curve if any. What I did learn about Summer League is that it's the first time the Kings get to work with their players on what they see in each individual. The Kings were unique in that they had half a roster who could be among the 15 that end up on the final roster come November. With Singletary asked to do so many things (defend bigger guards like Bayless), run a team, and score, it was hard to see how he would totally succeed. Given his limitations, and that Theus kept stacking the deck against him, he did fairly well. He made his mistakes, and he made some great and good plays, and he was pretty much a mixed bag. He proved he had quickness in a league full of quick guards. That impressed me as much as anything. He worked hard and competed. That impressed me too. Especially when you factor in that every guard he went up against had anywhere from 3-7 inches of height on him. Summer League is less about stats and how much a team wins, than it is about how a team works to achieve the goals it had. I think. It's hard to be exactly sure what the goals of Summer League are. I do think that Singletary showed the Kings enough that he can be the backup PG to Udrih consistently to perform for the Kings next season in that role. Beyond that, and who knows, we all will see. It wlll depend on factors that few of us don't know yet. Let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
Patrick Ewing Jr I thought had a decent Summer League considering. The ball moved better when he was on the court (particularly out of the gate), and he played good enough individual defense to show that he was focused on contributing to the team without being a detriment to everything else on the court. Whether that means anything who knows. Patience is required in the Ewing Jr puzzle. Worrying about how it turns out is fairly pointless. But that being said, which isn't much admittedly, he could be a valuable role player in limited versions if the Kings allow him to develop slowly over the next season or two. If Bruce Bowen is his high end of talent, there are worse players to be aren't there?
Shelden Williams came into Summer League with a goal I assume. To provide niche value that the Kings don't have elsewhere. He did that pretty well in my humble opinion. He banged inside for offensive and defensive rebounds, and he banged on guys on the block defensively. He played hard, didn't demand the ball, stayed where he should be on both ends, and in general, proved to be a banging big man the Kings need in spots to help them win games. If Williams can translate this Summer League to training camp and beyond, perhaps the Kings have a piece they don't have to look in free agency or another draft to address. That is a physical banger type of big man who doesn't demand the ball, but can at the same time not be a defensive liability. That would be the best case scenario for Shelden isn't it?
Quincy Douby can score. Did it at Rutgers, did it on Coney Island, and, hell, probably did it in the womb too. Quincy Douby proved his long arms and instincts work in the passing lanes, and used the big Kings front line to his advantage by gambling. I also thought he and Singletary provided solid 1 on 1 defense when it counted against both Belinelli and Bayless. That's not an easy task when you're giving up size and length. But Quincy showed up well, and if nothing else, showed he still wants a spot in the league. Where that is I do not know. I do know that he has a spot in the league as a guy who can score and defend backup shooting G's. That's a valuable thing to have in this league. Depth with stars is one thing that alot of teams don't have. The Kings potentially, in my view, have both if things work out right. Either way Douby did what he needed to do this summer. He needed to play his ass off on both ends carrying the team offensively, and help set a tone defensively. Bayless didn't do that, and wasn't asked to. Douby was, and did. Maybe Bayless is the MVP, but Douby had a difficult task this summer. I'm not saying this guarantee's him a spot in the rotation this summer, but Theus shouldn't think twice about writing him off.
To the man of the hour. Justin Thompson impressed us. He impressed me. That being said the kid isn't going to be an all-star when he steps on the court for the first time in November. He's too raw as a player, and he's got some ways to go. One of the beauty's for a player like Thompson is that he can play. He works hard and wants to prove how good he really is. He doesn't consider being selected 12th a criticism of him, but an opinion of others. He plays hard, and plays like he cares. But that type of praise is usually reserved for Eddie Najera role players, not potential All-Stars. Unless that All-Star is Karl Malone. That's who JT reminds me of, but it's way too early to make the comparison. For one thing JT's footwork needs improvement in how he sets up his shots, and for another, he rely's on savvy basketball IQ to get off shots. If he started jumping off the right foot his shots in the lane will be easier to get off, and the rate of success will increase. He will also need to learn how to get shots off in traffic if he wants to be an all-star at the next level. Double teams won't always be beaten off the dribble, and one criticism of him at Rider was that he didn't receive them, and Double Teams require spacing on his teammates part. In otherwords he can't do it all himself. In Summer League it's pretty much every developing kid for himself. But in the real L, that shit gets exposed, and quicker than George W Bush's intelligence. (Unfair Joke. It's not that's he's stupid. It's just that he isn't worth much. Dick Cheney is evil. Bush is worthless. Very big difference.) Being exposed is part of what a rookie's learning curve, and I have a feeling we will dampen some of our enthusiasm for JT in some of his failures. Well, maybe some of you will. I personally think that the kid will fail early, but will rebound as quickly as he is capable. How quickly, and to what level, I suspect will determine what kind of impact he has. Summer League, though, didn't show me any of that. Which brings me to the final point.
Anyone who has ever seen Formula 51 gets the joke I've been hinting at. It's a placebo, and it doesn't really exist. I watched Summer League, and for a week and a half wondered what it meant. But after watching the Dark Knight, and I kinda wonder why 2 1/2 hours were devoted to define the title, I kinda figured out what Summer League meant. It gave teams a chance to coach their players. To see what players work with them, and who won't. To see how diligent players are at working on their games, and the one's who just play. It's a chance to see combo guards shoot too many shots, and a chance to see pure points in action. It gives a chance for young bigs to shine, and for guys trying to lock up a spot in training camp down the line, or in other leagues as John Thompson so aptly pointed out, and for NBA teams to talk to each other. It gives a chance to go to Vegas for a week and half during the Summer Time, and it gives a chance to gamble. No One will ever care Kevin Love led the Summer League in rebounding, or that Bayless averaged nearly 28 in the scoring column during his 4 games played. Mostly what I learned is that teams get to evaluate talent over a 10 day span, and get a chance to work with them, and get a chance to see where they stand and how they interact. As a fan I'm glad I got a chance to see the games, but they didn't tell me anything other than alot of stuff I would have eventually figured out. (Like JT jumping off the wrong foot in the lane for instance. However, instead of taking Sam Amick's word for it, I got to see this for myself. That was particularly awesome.) Seriously, and I mean this, I enjoyed watching the games. I enjoyed Jt jumping off the wrong foot, and Spencer taking aggravating 3's, and Patrick Ewing Jr looking like he was invisible, and Shelden banging guys to the extent he does. I enjoyed Quincy Douby lighting it up like it mattered. I enjoyed the stupid interview with Reggie Theus. (Not Rick Kamla though. He really sucks.) I enjoyed listening to Patrick Ewing Sr not say anything. I enjoyed Jason Thompson hitting the game winning shot, and Jerryd Bayless getting the interview afterwords. I liked it because it was silly, interesting, useful, and ultimately means as much as greasing the monkey to a Sophia Lauren poster.
I liked it because, if nothing else, we get to balance the cynicism that balances with the optimism we get from the visual aspect. In the end I have found this particular Summer League experience to be neither enlightening or filled with distraught either. I don't find Summer League to be anything other than the pure Formula 51 placebo that is. Every negative has a positive and vice versa. Every good deed has an accompanying poor deed along with it. But rather than using the College season as a baseline, or ground zero, Summer League is better suited for it. Summer League has more NBA like rules, and is played with more NBA caliber players. Stats and victories/losses don't matter as they normally do, and in the end players get to play without being yanked like they do during the real games. The actual effect may be zero, but like some things, Summer League is not about the actual sum of each individual, but the sum of the total lot. And the total lot says that a player can gain confidence or trust within the organization they play by performing up to a standard the team was hoping for. That, is not a placebo. That is a value that just hasn't had a name with the appropriate definition yet. I'm good with that. Are you?
Everythings so blurry...And everyones so fake...And everybodys so empty...And everything is so messed up...Pre-occupied without you..I cannot live at all...My whole world surrounds you I stumble then I crawl...You could be my someone..You could be my scene...You know that Ill protect you From all of the obscene...I wonder what your doing..Imagine where you are...Theres oceans in between us But thats not very far......