The George Hill Show
Sure, DeJuan Blair was a beast on the glass. Yes, Malik really had it going in the second half. But, the Spurs' Summer League opener was all George Hill all the time.
Cubits stats were very good, but for me, the impressive thing was the way he ran the team. He got the team into its offense. He didn't take early shots. He passed the ball and ran plays. However, and this is where most young guards run afoul, he was still aggressive. He knew where his shots were on the court. He knew when to attack the basket -- and he did it in very unSpur-like spectacular fashion. He was patient without being passive. It's one of those funny things. I can't tell you exactly what a point guard should do and when they should do it. But, when I see it, I know it. Today, I knew it. They are supposed to play the way George played today.
George was aggressive from the beginning. He scored 9 points, on 8 shots, in the first quarter. He picked up 2 fouls early in the game. On his second foul, he asked the ref a question. I'm not sure what it was, but from the motion he made with his arm I think he asked, "Can I use my forearme"? The ref nodded a yes. George didn't pick up another foul the rest of the game. The guy is just a smart player who plays hard. I couldn't be more infatuated.
The infatuation grew strong with his display of filthy nastiness in the second quarter. George got trapped out on the side court -- where teams inbound the ball after timeouts -- and split the double team. He juked a guy near the top of the key and threw down a NASTY jam over the top of the late-arriving help defender. I'm a Spurs fan. I'm a George Hill fan. I couldn't contain myself (which I'm supposed to do with a media pass), but I didn't feel too bad because nobody near me could either. It was just such an awesome display of ballhandling, explosiveness, and athleticism. I've still got goose bumps. And in typical George Hill fashion, he hustled back up court getting his team into their defense. I couldn't be prouder of the man. There are a lot of players here who could learn a lot from George.
On a layup he had in the second half the guy next to me said, "Geez, it looked like he only took one step inside the 3-point line. He ended with 25 points, getting 10 of them in the 4th quarter. He went 7-13 and a perfect 11-11 from the line. In fact, I'm fairly certain he didn't touch the rim with a free throw. I'm not sure how he ended up with only 3 assists because it seemed like he would have had about 8. All in all, George thoroughly dominated this game and when he wasn't in, the team really struggled. I wish they had a +/- for this guy.
What about the OTHER guys?
DeJuan was just an animal. Almost everybody was really interested to see how he would play and he didn't disappoint. He had 3 rebounds in his first minute of play. He had the old Moses Malone thing going. Get the offesive board, miss a shot, get the board, make a shot. The stat sheet stuffing possession. 2 points, 2 boards. He had 5 boards in his first 5 minutes. He ended with 13 points, 4-7 from the field and 5-6 from the line, and 10 rebounds.
There is really nothing to not like about DeJuan. My new name for him is Mr. Fanstastic. Along with his amazingly strong, soft hands, he has this strange ability to reach out further than everybody else to get a ball. His ability to retrieve balls wasn't just on rebounds. He gobbled up loose balls as well. He just got his hands to the faster than anybody else and I think it is due to super-natural powers. I did see at least one minor negative thing I need to point out. DeJuan attempted to chase down an offensive rebound and couldn't come up with it. The other team hustled it up the court and DeJuan lollygagged up the court trailing his man by a good 10 feet. It is easily remedied, but that won't fly in this organization. I bet he'll end up with a couple extra sprints after they watch game film.
Something to keep an eye on for DeJuan are his feet. I think his footwork is spectacular. He was able to make many fakes, pumps, and spins very quickly without dragging or switching his pivot foot. I found this very impressive.
Jack McClinton played very poorly. He had the exact opposite game of George. He looked tentative for a while. When he tried to be aggressive, he got himself into trouble and took bad shots and made bad passes. Like I said, I don't know what he IS supposed to be doing, but I could see that this is what he ISN'T supposed to be doing. He seemed overwhelmed and I think the coaching staff saw this and put him on the bench. He only played 16 minutes. He also struggled mightily on the defensive end covering Marcus Thornton, who wasn't bashful with his 19 shots. Jack has a LONG way to go to make the team. He's a guy to really keep an eye on over the next 4 games.
Malik looked very mediocre in the first half. In 14 minutes, he had 0 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist. He passed the ball and he played defense, which are both good things. However, he just looked like an average player out there. The second half was different. He came out looking for his shot and he found it. He scored 11 points in the first 3 minutes of the third quarter, including a corner 3. He was able to hit some jumpers going one-on-one against Julian Wright. I've never really seen him create offense for himself before today. He finished the game with 16 points on 7-11 shooting and 2-2 from 3-point. His second 3-pointer was a Bruce corner ball off a drive-and-kick by George that sealed the game. However, he ended with the same 1 rebound and 1 assist he had in the first half. If there is something to look for from Malik the next couple games, it is his ability to impact the game without scoring.
Ian, as he told me afterward, had not played a game in a year and I think it showed. He led the team with 7 fouls. He was only 1-3 from the field and only had 4 rebounds in 35 minutes. The one he made was a really nice move into the paing and, I think, he made it with his left hand. I could be wrong on that one, but I remember it being a really nice shot. One of his misses though, says a lot, he got the ball in the low blocks while being guarded by Earl Barron. He faced up, drove right, stopped faked up, dipped under and came up to shoot moving left and just got the crap blocked out of it by Barron. The whole move, while nice technically, was a little slow and mechanical. He looked like me practicing Tai Chi. Another cause for concern is his work on the defensive glass where he only grabbed one rebound. Again, something we need to watch over the next few days. On the plus side, he has a very nice shot. He was 6-6 from the line and looked great doing it. It's not a fluke. During warm-ups, he steps out to 17 feet and knocks down shot after shot. He has a nice release, nice arc, and nice rotation. He looks very smooth shooting the ball.
James Gist got lost in the exitement for me. I was so focused on the other guys that I couldn't really pay him much attention. He had a great dunk in the first half, but the box score tells me that's the only shot he made. He got stone cold blocked by Anthony Tolliver. Besides those two plays, I didn't notice James much. I don't know how he did defensively or whether his shot selection was good.
Romel Beck opened some eyeballs with his 11 points second quarter. He has a really nice shot and was finding some opening to take advantage of it. He's a rail-thin two guard who wasn't afraid to get up a shot. His only two points in the second half were from the line. It will be interesting to see how he plays the rest of the week. I think he certainly has earned some minutes for the next few games. I want to know if he will be able to play well without making shots. Or, will he force shots and become a detriment.
Donnell Taylor looks like a combo guard who the Spurs used as a backup point guard. He really struggled to run the point.
What about the other team?
The Hornets were a three man show for the most part. Marcus Thornton, Darren Collison, and Julian Wright had 56 of their 86 points and took 45 of their 67 shots. Marcus Thornton looked very good and skilled offensively. However, he finished 8-19 from the field. Mainly, because of his 1-5 from 3-pt. Darren Collison did about as well as a late first round pick rookie can be expected to do at the point guard position. He had 19 points -- 6-13 from the field and 7-7 from the line -- 5 assists and 5 rebounds. Julian Wright had 15 points, but was most impressive defensively with his 3 blocks and 7 rebounds. He's so long for a small forward that guys couldn't get shots off over him when they had worked him into the paint.
How about something on the other games?
Here are some quick thoughts on what else I saw, but I will admit that I wasn't very focused today after the Spurs game.
- The Timberwolves first round pick, and 6th overall, Jonny Flynn is a very interesting looking player. He's small powerful looking guy. He looks like a pure point guard with an outside shot. I really liked his demeanor and I want to pay closer attention to him.
- Corey Brewew has a LONG way to go. He took some horrific shots. It had to have been almost embarrassing for the coaching staff to see.
- Joey Dorsey is just a beast. He had 8 points and 16 rebounds today. 15 of them on the defensive end.
- James White came off the bench and scored 14 points in 18 minutes. I'm still very down on him. If Matthew was here to see James play, he'd come back and remove his James White fetish post out of shame and humiliation.
- Gerald Henderson, for some reason, is playing with the Timberwolves. He was drafted by the Bobcats.
- The Grizzlies just destroyed the Thunder today which can't have been good for the Thunder who have a lot of talent, or at least high draft picks, here. James Harden, DJ White, Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook, Shaun Livingston, and BJ Mullens. They lost by 29.
- The OTHER Marcus Williams looked good running the Grizzlies. He finished with 17 assists.
- Hasheem Thabeet and Hamed Haddadi, at 7' 3" and 7' 2" respectively, collded 5 boards in 36 minutes. Both guys look really raw, but at this point I would say that Haddadi is better because he can catch the ball in the block and look for cutters.
- DeMarre Carroll is going to have a long undistinguished career in the NBA. He has very good court vision and knows how to create space for passes. I loved his game. He also hit shots from range and is a great hustler.
- Brandon Jennings is an explosive athlete. He's very, very quick. He had 23 points and 8 assists. He hit 4 of his 8 3-pointers. He only had 3 turnovers. His attitude is, um, interesting. He acts like he's playing in an AAU game. How he gets along with the no bullshit Scott Skiles should be interesting.
- Joe Alexander is an enigma.