I know some Dudes (kinda) who were at Summer League. Not, not in Orlando but in Vegas. Sweet. They went to the Dubs game where Randolph went off and won in OT. Those dudes know some other dudes who went to the Team USA game last week where all the potential future Team USA ballers played against eachother.
I didn't ask for permission to post these electronic mail transmissions, so hopefully this blog won't blow up and get all huge and linked to Sportsguy or Deadspin or whoever. I think that one of these Dudes is a lawyer and he might know how to sue The Nextians, LLC for all of the $487 we've made since inception from advertisements and those titty shirts we printed on Cafe Press that a few people bought.
Anyway, here's the Summer League Game Analysis:
D and J's Thoughts on the First Annual NBA Summer League Experience in Vegas
Do you remember going to high school basketball games? There was the small gym and a food stand where students or parents sold dogs, granny goose chips and sodas out of a make-shift cooler in order to raise money for various school organizations. Local grammar school kids would run around dreaming of wearing a "letterman's" jacket one day and cheerleaders would pluck people out of the stands to perform at strange and embarassing halftime promotions. Neighboring high school players and coaches would attend and scout the competition and former high school players would come back to bask in their former glory.
Now take all of the memories and images outlined above and then replace the high school teams with former college stars and aspiring, hungry, and developing NBA players (and tack on Anthony Randolph and Stephen Curry). Replace your sophomore PA announcer with some play-by-play guy whose voice you recognize but whose face you don’t and David Aldridge doing color while texting non-stop (presumably trying to pin down the latest trade rumor). Your high school cheerleaders are now EA Sports chicks wearing short shorts. The former high school stars returning to campus are replaced by Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Jarred Jeffries and Jamal Crawford. Neighboring high school scouts are replaced by Paul Westphal, Rick Carlisle and Larry Riley – not to mention the coaches are Keith Smart and Pete Carrill (a/k/a Yoda). Welcome to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
As the Sports Guy wrote in a column last year (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070718), the NBA Summer League has to be sport’s most well kept secret. Upon walking into the Cox Pavilion (where the UNLV women's basketball team plays and worked the event), we experienced this alternative universe. (SportsGuy says it seats 3,000, but even that number is hard to believe – we’re talking about 20 rows up each side of the court with no stands behind either hoop). As we walked up the stairs to the venue, we said hello to the annoying Warrior tool-box who carries around the microphone during timeouts at Oracle. As the Lakers-Cavs game ended, we immediately found seats in the SECOND ROW AT CENTER COURT behind the table for announcers for NBA.com’s live feed. A few minutes later, we found three open seats in the front row directly behind Aldridge. If you listened or watched the game through NBA TV or NBA.com, there is no way that you did not hear us (as well as two new friends) asking color analyst David Aldridge to call out the refs when a call did not go our way. In fact, whenever we weren't sure how many rebounds Randolph had or how many points Curry put up in the second half, we would just look over DA's shoulder to see his live stat ticker (see pictures). Being that we were basically on the court watching the action, we couldn't help but notice a few things:
(1) Stephen Curry is small and skinny (listed at 6'3, 185 but no more than 6'2, 170), looks like he is 12 years old, and clearly has great rapport already with the team. He shook off a very slow start (1 for his first 10 from the floor and an ankle sprain) to light it up effortlessly in the 2nd half with (a strangely quiet) 27 points after halftime. The guy can score in bunches. He’s a lot like Monta only with an outside shot. Still not exactly sure how they’ll defend on the court at the same time, but the offensive games are there. To answer Jeff’s question, he’s a lot quicker than Belinelli – much more like Monta.
(2) Anthony Randolph has become a monster (in addition to flying around the court asking for and getting the ball whenever and wherever he wanted, he also had back-to-back blocks (among his five total) that were somehow not called goal-tends made out of shear disgust for the opposition and the refs were too stunned to blow the whistle). His 15-20 foot jumper is silky smooth as is his ball handling in the open court. It did look like he’d grown a bit and definitely put on muscle since last year. Can you say “Point-Center”?; Final line: 24 points on 10 for 13 shooting with 11 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and 5 blocks in 37 minutes.
(3) Cartier Martin is not only "The New Azubuike" (smart, physical wing player who will make an NBA squad this year), but he also had Jacques thinking hard about dropping 5 large on a watch before we left;
(4) Tyreke Evans is going to be a star – he was the best player on the court not named Anthony Randolph – got to the rim at will and had a better outside shot than we’d expected;
(5) Jamal Sampson has gained at least 15 pounds of upper body muscle since his Cal days; and
(6) Jared Jordan is still white (got 4 minutes of action for the W’s late) – see Sports Guy’s article for the connection.
Here is the game recap: http://www.nba.com/summerleague2009/games/20090711/GSWSAC/recap.html I think the spirited cheering section needs to take some credit for the come from behind W’s overtime victory. Randolph and Curry weren’t going to be denied in this one.
More fun – besides the hoops – Toward the end of the first half, the two EA sports girls asked us to participate in the half time "shoot out" where we could have won the latest NBA X-Box video game. Fearing that this was somehow connected to a dance competition and coupled with our lack of basketball activity over the past 10 years, we politely declined. At half-time and early in the second half, we greeted Larry Riley, Paul Westphal (new Kings coach) and Rick Carlisle (Mavs were playing next) to "our booth" as they conducted their NBA TV interviews. Since they were only about 6 feet away, we couldn't help but notice that Larry Riley is chubby and likes to chew tobacco. As we got up to buy a hot dog, we gave a "Go Bears" salute to Shareef Abdur-Rahim, now a Kings coach. After hanging with his entourage in the lobby at half-time, Shareef came back to "our booth" for an Aldridge interview.
One theme to remember next year when the 2nd annual pilgrimmage will take place: "Be careful when ridiculing players!" Summer league is full of rusty and ugly plays and players. We couldn't help but shake our heads and laugh at players like Sacto's Omri Casspi (from Israel). Turns out his father and wife (or maybe sister) were sitting next to us. Thankfully we identified this early on and were able to avoid an awkward moment.
After the win, Randolph came over to "our booth" for an Aldridge interview (see pictures). We and our new friends cheered like school girls and made sure that AR acknowledged Devon's Randolph jersey (which we’ve still not seen another one of – thanks to Justin Sweder for finding it early last year; some schmuck before the game even thought it was a Webber jersey…. Idiot). Anyway, we reminded AR that he is now to be called "Franchise." That's it. One word. Just FRANCHISE (now in all caps).
On an absolute high, we decided to leave during the 1Q of the Mavs/Rockets game so we wouldn't be late for our dinner reservation at Il Mulino (where we saw Jared Jeffries). Walking down the stairs, we noticed someone next to us holding onto the bannister with a painful limp. Looking to our left, there was Jermareo Davidson trying to get down the stairs to greet his family. We called him our “Secret Weapon” to our new friends during the game since he actually had some NBA minutes last year unlike most guys on the court, but “Poor-Man’s Varajeo” (our other nickname for him) didn’t necessarily deliver, huffing and puffing his way through 9 minutes on the court. He is clearly out of shape and trying to recover from off-season surgery. Looking at his wrapped ankle and seeing his family wearing his jersey below, we can't help but root for him to make the team.
CONCLUSION: Curry is good. Randolph is incredible. He will be the MVP of the All-Star Frosh/Soph game, if he doesn’t make the real All-Star team – hell, he’ll play both days; the guy was born to dominate. Summer League has become an annual tradition. We will book tickets as soon as the 2010 Summer League schedule is released.
*Side notes: Jamal Crawford and his entourage are terrible blackjack players. "Trichelle" from Real World Las Vegas still hangs out at Vegas clubs, is taller and more attractive than we thought.
Please let me know if you have problems viewing the photos.
You are invited to view brennaritch's photo album: Vegas 09
OK, that was pretty decent. I like the pictures. Now here's another Dude's take on the Team USA game last week:
Here are some quick hits from Team USA:
Awesome, awesome event! Didn't have quite the high school feel of summer league as it took place in the larger Thomas and Mack center, but I still appreciated the lack of over-the-top PA effects and early 90's techno music. We essentially saw the "all-NBA-up-and-comers" team scrimmage from 6 rows back for $60 bucks, with squeaky shoes as the ambient noise.
FRANCHISE displayed what I mostly expect from this season - moments of complete awe at his full potential, mixed with moments of "I'm not sure he knows what to do with the ball right now". He had 2 of the most jaw-dropping dunks of the game in a night of many memorable plays, both of flavor of: 1) rebound 2) handle and run the ball up the court in less than 8 steps 3) throw down a fierce dunk in middle of traffic. That's just a skill he has that no other player on the court could come CLOSE to mimicking, even Durant or Josh Smith. He looks unbelievably fluid bringing up the ball after a rebound, and both times, nobody in the gym had "randolph dunk" as a logical possibility to finish the drive. In the last minute, he had a nice little jab, step-back jumper from 18 feet that was my favorite FRANCHISE play of the night. On the down side, he had a few plays where he pump faked a wide open look,only to dribble into trouble and throw up a more difficult, contested shot. Overall, he looked like he belonged, which is certainly enough to hang your hat on, considering the makeup of the roster.
Sorry to say Devon, but Coach K has turned me into a UNC fan. We approached him before the game for a picture. As we approached, he turned around, gave us the heisman, and dismissively said "I'm not doing that today." This is Coach K! The fatherly mentor figure!! I was lost for words. Any words to defend your boy?
I felt bad for Michael Beasley, who was sitting courtside. He couldn't have wanted to be in the game any more badly, and started shooting around during half-time. I guess that's the price you pay for being absolutely out of your mind.
Fittingly awful Vegas-esque timeout performances - C- fake elvis literally booed off the court, inappropriately dressed high-school cheerleaders with no apparent dancing ability or sense of rhythm, absolutely horrible military barbershop quartet (still received a deserved standing O)
Stock up:Russell Westbrook: Unbelievable on-the-ball defense (stole in-bounds pass twice), great size for a PG. He would look awfully great next to Curry or Ellis.Kevin Love: Just plays the right way. Never out of control. Ferocious rebounder - maybe one of the best I've seen over the past season. Would be an IDEAL PF / C in nellie's system, especially considering his passing ability.Brook Lopez: Just knows how to move around in the paint, and had an efficient "60% FG% + 8-12 boards" kind of night. Doesn't have his back to the basket game quite yet, but he reminded my of a more skilled version of Beans.FRANCHISE: As I mentioned before, he just does things on the court that no one else can do. We need to get him a mentor.Rudy Gay: 11-12 from the field, and just looked better than a lot of guys out there.Stock Even:Kevin Durant: I am a huge, huge KD fan, but he really didn't play as well as his #'s would indicate. Sort of a ball hog for the night.Stock down:Josh "the walking turnover" Smith and Andre "the walking field goal attempt" Iguodala. Both were absolute ball-stoppers on the offensive end, and both seemed to be allergic to the lane.Derrick Rose: Looks like he already knew he was on the team. Didn't exert himself at all in a losing effort.
These Dudes rule.