Posted by: Kingsguru21 | July 19, 2010

So Summer League is over: Now what?

Summer League is over. The hyperventilating and hyperbole can take a backseat for a few days while the Kings retreat from Vegas winners of 4 games outta 6. So, this is bullet style. Mostly.

* Relax. It’s Summer League. It’s just Summer League. It’s a good time for the NBA to do a lot of things (which I’ll get at in depth in a bit) and that’s one reason it’s held in Vegas. The fact that it’s held so close to Team USA (another point I’ll get into) is another bonus point for the NBA.

* Speaking to why the NBA does Summer League in Vegas, it’s mostly networking. Virtually every team is there watching players. European Teams scout American players at Summer League too. (If you weren’t paying attention to when the announcers were talking about this.) NBDL scouts players at Summer League. It’s a chance for everybody to get together in relaxed casual 50’s wear and talk about basketball. You get to watch your young players, you get to watch veteran players that are on the Summer League team, and mostly you get to talk to each other. Sometimes a player works out like Adam Morrison or Sean May last year. (Whom the Kings eventually signed.) Really though, it’s just networking. For everyone. The media, the NBA organization, the teams, the players, and everyone already mentioned. It’s as much about being being seen as it is heard.

Oh and you get to watch high level crappy rec league basketball with better coaching.

* Team USA mingles with NBA officials for one reason: The NBA players. For Tyreke Evans, it’s a great opportunity to showcase himself as a player utilizing different styles. To just be named for the Worlds roster this summer would be a major victory for him. If he doesn’t make it, there isn’t much lost. However, many of the top NBA players at his position (assuming you believe this nonsense) will be there playing and trying out. Especially many young players like Derrick Rose for instance. (I believe John Wall is also invited.) One thing I hope Tyreke learns how to do is play without the ball. It’s not so much that he needs to become as effective playing off the ball as he is with it because simply his abilities with the ball will always be the core of his offensive game. It’s just that he can get so much better at playing off the ball and doing so against international wings may help him diversify and expand his game ever so quicker. No matter what happens, the competition of the Team USA workouts is nothing but a positive for Tyreke Evans. He is not Chris Paul, Deron Williams or the other players who were part of the 2008 Olympic team. It does not hurt him at this point to join Team USA for competitive basketball.

* Jason Jones has an excellent piece Sunday on Tyreke Evans and how winning Rookie of the Year (plus a year of high visibility) has changed his life.

* JJ also noted about the lack of standout G’s in Vegas. I wrote my feelings on this a few days ago. So, nobody stood out. No biggie. It’s not like any of these guys were likely to take Beno Udrih or Francisco Garcia’s spots. Again, I think it’s a case of fans thinking that their is an upgrade for cheaper and that isn’t really the case. Fans, as they’ve become ever more aware of the financial side of the game, have lost sight of the fact that there is a reason the Kings paid Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih: They are quality NBA players. Even if they are overpaid, they are quality NBA players. Both make the Kings better when they are playing well. I don’t think any of the VSL guards will ever say the same at any point of their careers. It always behooves a team to look, but just because you can make a change doesn’t mean it’s wise to do so. Remember: Talent is King. Also, Orien Greene’s stint as a PG should help you remember too. Beno Udrih was better than Greene, Bobby Brown, Sean Singletary and every other young G that has come through for the Kings at Summer League. It’s worth noting.

* In case you’re curious about the difference between Rookie of the Month in July, and the MVP of the Summer League, you’re not alone. I’m confused too. As to John Wall winning the MVP award, he should have. Cousins shouldn’t have. As to the award? I’ve never heard of that and frankly I don’t care. Rookie of the months from November to April barely matter, and Rookie of the Year is another award that I’m a glass half empty type of guy on. It’s a good award to have, but it doesn’t necessarily mean much. There is usually 5 or 10 rookies who do good or useful things, and 2 or 3 who have a real shot at the award. That’s the way it goes. But sometimes a player gets better than you originally thought and suddenly the guy who won Rookie of the Year isn’t looking so good. That happens all the time. This is why Rookie of the month in July is so stupid.

* Ailene Voisin has a few pieces that are worth linking to. This is after the Toronto game. This quote I thought was very telling:

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, but as long as the adults keep a close watch, Cousins will be fine. He can play. Geez, he can really play.

I agree with this a great deal. I’ll explain (hopefully) a bit later down with my Cuz points as that is several paragraphs long.

* Vlade Divac showed up. And has a kid going to college at Chapman University, apparently.

* Here are the stats of Summer League. Look at your own peril.


This is Mario Elie’s reaction to why Cousins struggled over the last few Summer League games. It’s worth noting.

* Mario Elie has a future as a head coach in the League. I’m not sure when, or for whom, obviously, but he has a clear future as a guy who cares about his players and demands the most of his team. He’s a guy who has an incredible amount of experience in the NBA and around the world as a basketball player. He’s worked on several NBA benches and has paid his dues. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him on a NBA bench in a year, or in 2 years. 3 years down the road and Elie isn’t on a NBA bench, I’ll be downright shocked and curious as to why if no reasons are given. (Usually reasons are given.)

* Hassan Whiteside was a project coming in and leaving. No reason to think otherwise or despair. He has NBA talent, and there is no reason to think anything else but that. But not scoring a lot of points (since that won’t likely be his role at the NBA level) or touching the ball often is not a big deal at the VSL. It’s mostly about effort and trying to guard the quicker PF’s that play. It’s going to be a long adjustment but Whiteside can do it. The question is can he make the leap. I think he can if the Kings handle him right, and that means probably spending some time in Reno. I don’t think banging in practice with the big boys will be what helps Whiteside ultimately develop.

* Speaking of Omri Casspi and Donte Greene, I thought Omri’s best game was against Chicago. I thought Donte stood out perhaps against LA (but I didn’t see that game), but he was consistent I guess is the thing I liked best. The thing I noticed about both is that they gave the Kings more options on the court and gave spacing for Cousins. Both know how to operate and cut off Cuz and that’s something I think that helped him early on in SL. It’s not necessarily just for themselves but for other players. They knew, and I think they both knew it, that there was some pressure to perform and show what they could do as the veterans and players with NBA experience. Even though I thought both had their strengths and weaknesses generally show up during SL, neither had a bad SL. Mostly, I thought they did what they came to do and it worked out okay. It surely helped given that the Kings didn’t really have any G play to speak of that truly stood out.

* If you are one of the people that was worried that DeMarcus Cousins was at a club until 3am before the 6th game VSL game, know this. He’s a young man and he was out having a good time. He’s only 19 and can’t drink. There’s only so much trouble a kid like DMC can get into. (Given that he was with Reke, that’s true of both.) However, it doesn’t mean DMC was being irresponsible. It means he was out having a good time. The Kings-Mavs showdown started at 5pm, and I don’t think there is anybody who believed DeMarcus Cousins needs to sleep 14 hours to prepare for VSL. It’s as much mental preparation as it is physical preparation for DMC. So, let’s not make a mountain out of a microscopic anthole.

* Speaking of Mr Cousins hisself, the thing about the kid is this: He wasn’t going to become that much better conditioned 3 weeks after the draft. He wasn’t necessarily going to become a different player overnight. This is a 2 or 3 year plan to work on his body, his focus and harness his skills/talents/emotions into making him a better player. And, it’s not like players stop at 2 or 3 years in this league. DeMarcus Cousins showed a lot of things, and some of them were very positive.

He’s a skilled player who rivals Kevin Love for outlet passing. Given Love’s physical limitations (but excellent rebounding abilities) and physical conditioning issues at times, it’s somewhat interesting comparison. The thing is, though, that Love is not the player Cousins will be offensively. He just doesn’t have the footwork or the raw size to bang down low.

I may be wrong about DeMarcus Cousins strength. It’s clear that he either A) relies on his body control/athleticism more (he tried to finesse too many shots up) or B) he has a poor understanding of leverage at this time. If I’m wrong about DMC’s natural strength, I’ll be glad to say I am. It’s just that usually guys who contort themselves the way DMC often did do not necessarily have great strength. Usually the strong guys just power through guys. Maybe that’s one of the issue’s the coaching staff will teach DMC how to utilize moving forward. If that’s the case, I’m going to be less & less concerned. But, if DMC isn’t that strong? Oh boy, oh boy…….

I hate big men who shoot 3’s. Unless they are Brad Miller that is. DMC shouldn’t shoot on the perimeter, but he does. It’s a bad habit of his that he will have his entire career. When he gets good enough at it, he’ll do it often enough. It’s still going to irritate me no matter what. His offensive worth, almost all of it, is based on his ability to score 1 on 1 on the block. If he is shooting J’s he’s going to be bailing out defenders who surely can’t defend him on the block. I understand his problem, and Elie described it well in the youtube vid I linked to above. When he gets tired, or irritated of guys beating on him, that’s his first inclination. Here’s the thing he had better learn: You gotta take it. If you’re going to beat guys in the NBA, they will beat you up. It’s a competitive league, and refs quite often let battles go. You won’t be able to dribble drive your way into the paint (as I saw on several occasions) and draw fouls. Even Anthony Mason wasn’t that good. (Mason was a ridiculous ball handler. Also had ridiculous hair cuts. But I suppose that’s what happens when you’re from Queens. And yes, it made some of Ron-Ron’s haircuts look good.) The point here is that DMC has been the biggest strongest guy everywhere he’s played. Now he’s going to play against guys every night who are big, strong, and tough. They are skilled and possess many of the same skills that DMC has, the talent to bang against him, and will find ways to get into his head. It’s up to DMC to figure out a way to get past that. Whether he does or not is the difference between becoming a 2 or 3 time all-star when he’s having a great year or a 10-12 time all-star.

* Now a diatribe on Summer League stats. I hate them. They are pointless. You look at Cousins stat lines, and you say hey he led the Summer League in rebounding. So fucking what? It doesn’t matter. Whether Cousins grabbed 9 boards or 12 doesn’t matter one iota. It’s not about dominating Summer League play statistically. It’s a bunch of young players and high draft picks playing for teams with a various assortment of goals. Every team, and coach, treats SL differently. Some use it to see how players compete. Others use it to give players a chance to showcase their skills. The one thing you can say, and some have said it, is that quality players show it at SL. That’s no doubt true, and worrying about Cousins 33% from the field is a waste of time. He’s not shooting 33% ever at any real league. The real value of Cuz’s SL was that he was already getting double & triple teamed with guys beating on him. The fact he simply will be able to recognize that NBA guys will do that to him and learn from it is a huge bonus. If he had dropped 25 & 15 on VSL competition, I’d be more worried about the competition and Cousins’ ego not willing to work down the road. This way, maybe Cuz will come out with a more responsive attitude when guys double him or when a guy beats on him to get his goat. I’m glad he only picked up 1 tech over the 6 games. He’ll have to check his temper quite a bit and he’ll have to get used to it. (As I’ve said.)

* One of my pet peeves about SL is that there is 2 different SL’s at the moment. One in Orlando and one in Vegas. I wouldn’t mind if there was a big SL at one or the other, but both? It makes it a bit more difficult to evaluate any of these players. I don’t care what the reasons are for splitting up the teams, but let’s be honest. Whatever they are, it’s stupid. There should be one league for all the teams and extend the SL to two weeks or something. Maybe that’s too long or whatever, but I’d love to hear what the reasons are for having 2 different SL’s. Cole Aldrich didn’t play in Orlando on OKC’s SL team because he was traded to the Thunder on July 8th. (Not sure why it took that long. I would have thought he would have been traded on draft day given that the Hornets got the 21st & 26th picks which became Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter. Both managed to play for the Hornets on their SL team. I don’t think it was a real contract issue.) Whatever the case may be, Aldrich could have played had he signed his contract and been ready to go on the 9th. It’s a dumb reason to not have 2 weeks of SL in one place rather than have 8 teams in Orlando and everyone else in Vegas. It’s a dumb split and helps very few. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

* Last but not least, more Voisin and more Cousins.

Yet he is so, so, so skilled, and at the very least, already is an instinctive rebounder and passer, and a very tough self-critic. Coach Paul Westphal spent several minutes speaking privately with the super intense youngster after Sunday’s finale, finally eliciting a grin from the overall No.5 draft pick. “He has so much ability, and he’s very smart,” Westphal noted. “One thing that would help … he can do so many things, but he needs to focus on doing a few things well (offensively).”

There was this lil tibbit:

What happens if the parties fail to reach a new collective bargaining agreement and the league locks out its players next summer? One high-ranking source insists the league will maintain a summer league presence here regardless of a work stoppage, perhaps involving D-League players, European stars and teams, or some combination thereof. Ugh. Most of these games are unwatchable as it is unless one fixates on a specific player or team. Can’t imagine a lot of interest in a competition that doesn’t include the future stars. Then again, in a state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate (14 percent), anything that employs workers is a plus.

I agree with Voisin. SL is already bad enough and without any real interest in it, or without networking yourself in terms of future employment (if you’re a young blogger), than I don’t really see the point of going or covering it. It’s a dumb exercise without seeing any of the real young talent that is there.

* I’ve said it many times. Don’t let Summer League trip you out. Don’t let the mind fuck of believing that the moment matters more than it does. Want proof? Just read my opinions on the Summer League 6. If that doesn’t trip you out, remember this: Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Shelden Williams, Quincy Douby, Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing Jr were on that team. Only Hawes, Thompson and Williams (all lottery picks at one point from 2006-08) are still in the NBA. Hawes may be on his last shot to prove to teams he’s worth keeping, and Williams is what he is. Jason Thompson is easily the best player of those 6, and that is probably a 3rd big in a rotation on a competing playoff team.

It’s. just. Summer. League.


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