Dribbles: A look at each Vegas run


BY SAM AMICO

Three random dribbles on each of the six games at the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league. Friday was opening day, with plenty more still to come.

Pelicans 101, Bucks 89

1. Seth Curry of the Pelicans looked every bit as magical as his older brother Steph — who just won MVP and led the Warriors to an NBA title. Seth scored 30 in the opener, displaying a style that resembled both his brother and his father, former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry. On nights like this, I can’t figure out why Seth can’t find a permanent spot in the league.

2. I was impressed with Bucks guard Rashad Vaughn. He scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds, and was just generally active. Vaughn was considered a top-10 prospect coming out of high school. He played just one season at UNLV. He’s on my “draft steal” list.

3. Former Cavs forward Kevin Jones had a nice showing for the Bucks: 15 points, 7-of-11 shooting, eight boards.

Raptors 90, Kings 68

1. Willie Cauley-Stein looks like a lifetime reserve to me. Or a starter who can hinder you offensively. No, I’m not trashing the guy — I think he’ll make a solid pro. And no, I’m not basing my opinion off one summer-league game. I watched him at Kentucky and thought the same thing. He’s a rim-protector for sure, and that’s plenty valuable. But I think he’ll be average overall. That said, I hope he proves me wrong.

2. Meanwhile, I really enjoyed watching Raptors rookie guard Norman Powell. He always looks like he’s about to fall asleep. But the kid’s got game. He scored 20 in the opener. I look forward to seeing him in the real NBA. Maybe the departure of Lou Williams won’t hurt so much, after all.

3. Raptors small forward Bruno Caboclo (15 points) and rookie point guard Delon Wright(nine points, nine assists) impressed me, too.

Nuggets 86, Hawks 71

1. Second-year guard Gary Harris and rookie guard Emmanual Mudiay are the Nuggets’ backcourt of the future. So go ahead and just trade the frustrated Ty Lawson and let us watch more of these two together. Harris scored 15, and Muddiay chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. Finally, some hope in Denver.

2. I’m surprised Hawks rookie Brandon Ashley went undrafted. Actually, I’m not all that surprised. The obsession with overseas players sometimes pushes talented Americans out of the draft — even if the Americans are better players. Ashley was pretty good at Arizona and he scored 15 in the opener. He may have been a victim of the system. I like his game.

3. Watch out for Hawks small forward Lamar Patterson (16 points). I still think he’s an NBA player if he finds the right home. Patterson was selected by the Bucks in the second round (No. 48) in 2014, then spent last season in Turkey.

Timberwolves 81, Lakers 68

1. Well, Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns only picked up nine fouls. Other than that, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft looked pretty good with 12 points and three boards. Towns admittedly had some butterflies (he air-balled a 3-pointer less than a minute into the game), but you can certainly see how this guy can become a game-changer. He has size and skills — and, it just seems, that certain something.

2. No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell was so-so for the Lakers. And that’s OK. These summer-league openers resemble more of a mad scramble than an actual basketball game. Russell scored eight points and passed for five assists, but committed five turnovers. Overall, no worries, Lakers fans. Andrew Wiggins looked worse in his first summer game.

3. Meanwhile, second-year forward Julius Randle (11 points) showed some promise. He’s rusty after missing the entire season with a broken leg, but he’s skilled, plays hard and is more than willing to wrestle you down low.

Rockets  111, D-League Select 94

1. Who the heck is Alan Williams? I kept asking myself that as I watched the Rockets rookie big man scorch the D-Leaguers, scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. So I looked it up. Williams went undrafted out of UC Santa Barbara. He was the Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2014. At 6-8 and 260 pounds, he’s not the most athletic guy. But he clearly has great instincts near the basket. He belongs on a team that will pay him.

2. I almost always root for the D-League team in Vegas. If anyone is trying to impress the scouts, it’s these guys. They’re probably tired of eating at McDonald’s. They want steak. Former NBA swingman Scotty Hopson just might get it. He scored 27, finishing 10-of-12 on free throws. Taylor Griffin (Blake’s Brother) added 15.

3. Clint Capela, Sam Dekker, Nick Johnson and Montrezl Harrell sat out with minor injuries. They’re basically the four biggest reasons I wanted to watch this game. But you can’t be too careful in July.

Warriors 83, Cavaliers 75

1. Warriors forward James Michael McAdoo (20 points) has always intrigued me, dating back to his North Carolina days. There was a time when people considered him a top-eight draft pick. But that was about five years ago. He’s very fundamental and cerebral, but has probably been a little too casual on the court. Either way, I look forward to seeing more of him.

2. Warriors guard Aaron Craft was the best defender in the D-League last year. The kid is just hard-nosed. He scored nine points and passed for seven assists. But I don’t think he’ll get much of a chance in the NBA with that ugly jumper. Then again, the Warriors really admire his drive and all-out hustle. Sort of reminds me of little Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova in that sense.

3. Shooting guard Joe Harris went just 2-of-10 for the Cavs, including 0-4 on threes, for six points. He needs more time in actual game situations. But I did like what I saw from undrafted rookie guard Tyler Haws. I thought he had real pro potential during the few times I saw him play in college (BYU). Haws scored 12 points in 11 minutes.

2 Comments on "Dribbles: A look at each Vegas run"

  1. Sam, I just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed your analyses lately. I’ve seen some of the twitter hate you get, but I remember maybe halfway through the Cavs season you called that they’ll be just fine. You’ve almost entirely earned my trust as a knowledge of the game. Thanks!!

    • Thank you, Nick! I get Twitter hate? Lol. I’m sure you’re right. But sportswriters aren’t that much different than referees. It comes with the job. As long as it doesn’t come from my wife or kids, I’m just fine with it. 🙂 No matter, appreciate the kinds words and thanks for reading!

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