Posted by: Kingsguru21 | July 15, 2010

Summer League thoughts

Hopefully I keep this brief as I don’t feel like writing a novel this time out. Hopefully.

No doubt you’ve heard the various opinions by now. From Jason Jones among others, or Zach Harper. Truehoop is here for you too. Here’s some thoughts by Jones on Casspi & Greene.

Here are highlights over the entire game:

I won’t even bother with the note that right now Tyreese Rice is outplaying Donald Sloan. I really wasn’t paying much attention to that last night.

Omri Casspi vs Donte Greene? Good question. Both had their moments last night.

DeMarcus Cousins. Okay, now I have thoughts (because he was mostly whom I was focusing my attention towards).

DMC has weaknesses, and some fundamental one’s. One is that he’s not as strong as advertised (like Brockman in a way but unlike Nessie, it matters a great deal more) to the masses. Two, DMC is not as athletic as some have touted him to be. It’s not like he stinks as an athlete, but Shaquille O’Neal freak athlete DeMarcus Cousins is not. It’s best if people think of him somewhere in the Tim Duncan level of athleticism. That’s a more accurate assessment.

One concern I have is shot selection. It’s not necessarily DMC’s skills because he can shoot and pass. What concerns me is that he may not be willing to bang with the big boys (due to the lack of strength) inside over the course of the game. Tyreke Evans has a developed body. DMC does not. The difference is that Tyreke can utilize that a great deal more over the course of a 48 minute game than DMC can me thinks. Again, what’s come out is how skilled DMC really is as a basketball player. He’s long (although he doesn’t always use this to his advantage because he takes shots at really weird angles due to, again, lack of strength) and big. There is a lot to work with. As John Calipari said, there is a long ways to go before DeMarcus Cousins is a finished product.

Awhile ago I posted this fanshot at StR warning fans about Summer League. Please read the piece by Dave before continuing. It will help explain some of what I’m gonna say.

Look, DeMarcus Cousins matched up against Patrick O’Bryant. There’s a reason he’s playing in Summer League despite being the 9th overall pick in the 2006 draft. There’s a reason O’Bryant didn’t end up sticking with the Warriors and didn’t have his option picked up for his 3rd season. O’Bryant isn’t very good at the NBA level. When Cousins does a lot of impressive stuff against guys like O’Bryant, or worse players, that isn’t impressive. Cousins is simply doing what he’s supposed to do at this point.

Summer League is the first step. It’s a vetting process for NBA players to figure out their wares in plying their trade. It’s really no more or less than that. It’s a competitive setting with NBA refs (maybe) and potential NBA head coaches players. That’s why Jerry Reynolds says that stars tend to dominate in Summer League to begin with. They’re so much better than the caliber of talent they were picked with or the caliber of talent that is coming to try and pick up a roster spot at some point. This is what those players are supposed to do. If you want DeMarcus Cousins to be a big star, this is only the first of many steps to go. This will likely be the easiest step Cousins has taken.

Now to the tech itself. On one hand, it was bad. Cousins will have to prove over the course of his career, not just this season, or 2 seasons down the road, that he can take the hits. You have to take this stuff to be successful in the NBA. It’s simply part of the deal. Just because some guy was put into to beat you up, and successfully smacks you in the ribs (which is annoying) doesn’t mean you should respond by getting into a pissing match. It’s not a good idea. This is how bad reputations start.

On the other hand, the tech motivated Cousins. That’s a concern too. He needed motivation? He needed to be fired up in a Summer League game? I guess I can understand that. But it makes me shake my head alot too. I like DMC a good deal. He’s a good kid. He loves the game. He plays hard most of the time. He does a lot of good things on the court a lot. But if he can’t keep his head for that one moment when it’s needed most, it’s not hard to agree with the argument that DMC is Rasheed Wallace redux on the court. Again, don’t say you weren’t warned. This is part of the DeMarcus Cousins package.

Last but not least, as I talked about with regards to LeBron James (among other things), there are 2 things that I saw interesting about DeMarcus Cousins jump hook to win the game. First, he wasn’t afraid to miss. He actually called the ball. He wanted it. If nothing else, that says he’s competitive. Which is the 2nd thing. You can’t be afraid to fail and you can’t ever not leave it all on the court. DeMarcus Cousins, for some of the emotional hand wringing or worries about his strength/athleticism, is a talented emotional player who cares about winning. The question is can Paul Westphal, DeMarcus Cousins himself and the organization help him moving forward. Can you tap the good parts of DMC’s talent while leaving the bad behind? Can DMC do it? These are questions that will be settled over the course of the career, and, in hindsight, may seem more obvious than it might today.

What I know is that all the gloating and the talk about DeMarcus Cousins is wildly premature. 3 summer league games and he’s better than Tyreke Evans? Eh, no. Cousins is far & away the best big in the Vegas Summer League. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do and he’s doing it in a way that suggests he brings a lot to the table. While none of this is surprising, jumping to conclusions because he hit a jump hook, something he’ll need to do a lot of against the much better talents he’ll be facing over the 82 game schedule in the NBA against the best NBA big men, over Patrick O’Bryant tells you little else other than why O’Bryant flamed out of the league in the first place.

Just know that while I think it’s encouraging to see DMC do well against inferior talent, all it proves is that he’s an unique talent. Right now, he’s not matching up against the NBA best. I won’t slate him for Rookie of the Year until he goes up against Gasol & Bynum, Kaman & Griffin, Collison/Aldrich, Chandler/Haywood, Oden/Przybilla (assuming either are healthy), Jefferson and Millsap in Utah and the like. That’s just the Western Conference. When DMC does it one cycle (or at least 2 months with a lot of talented bigs left in his wake), then I’ll be writing in a much more giddy fashion about DMC’s future. Until then consider me an open minded skeptic.


  1. So the kid has superior tools to any big man in Summer league, is doing what he’s supposed to + wanting and making the winning shot and there’s a caution?
    Of course he’s a rookie, of course he needs to get stronger and in better shape, as C-Webb said in the telecast, ALL rookies need that, no way they’re ready for the NBA physically on day one (with a very few exceptions).
    His tools are superior to any young big man I’ve ever seen, period. Will he maximize them?
    That’s always the question.

    • He’s not necessarily going to get progressively stronger as the years go on. Guys tend to be strong or they aren’t. That was one point.

      It’s hard to see DMC get more skilled at this point. My point is that beating up 3rd rotation bigs is not a quality achievement for a guy who could become an All-Star. It’s just a first step. It’s not to be downplayed or overhyped. It just is.

  2. Quit pissing in my koolaid homes.

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