Well, I made it here to Vegas. Finally.
Flying out today was pretty stressful, because of course it was. I almost missed my first flight because to the line to be screened was so long, and I had to deal with shrieking babies all day. (Normally, I am a fan of little kids. They're usually chill bros or lady bros. Not today.) But I'm here now, and that's the only thing that matters.
My flight got in at about 5:30pm MDT, so by the time I was able to check into my hotel and get situated, there was only time to watch one game. It was a toss-up between Milwaukee/Denver and Miami/Toronto; I picked the former because Ish Smith was the starting point guard for the Bucks. Yes, really.
It wasn't a particularly competitive game, with the Bucks winning 88-74, and it didn't even feel as close as the score was. But there were plenty of interesting guys to watch, and lots of things that the contest revealed about their games.
- John Henson was pretty awesome throughout. He had 19 points on 7-10 shooting, and also patrolled the paint well with 3 blocks. He looked like a man among boys out there, which is appropriate considering he was the 14th pick in last year's draft and played meaningful minutes for a chunk of last season. At any rate, it was nice to see him dominate like he's supposed to be, because all too often that ends up not being the case with young prospects.
- Dominique Jones, who spent three years at the University of South Florida before being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round in 2010, was incredibly efficient. He had 18 points on 7 shots...IN THE FIRST HALF. He also dropped a few dimes including a gorgeous behind-the-back pocket pass to Gustav Ayon. He got to the line early and often. He did have 4 TOs in the half, but that was more because of his aggression than anything else. That aggression wasn't just on offense either, as he had active hands and great defensive intensity. He didn't play much in the second half, I guess the coaching staff had seen enough from in in the first two quarters. He's played portions of the last three seasons for the Mavericks, so he'd be expected to come out strong against young, wide-eyed rookies. But still, 18 points on 7 shots is impressive.
- This game got me excited for one of my favorite rookies in this class, former South Dakota State University Jack Rabbit, Nate Wolters. His handle looked as tight as ever. His play-making was incredible. He had a stretch in the first half where he ran the pick-and-roll with Henson, and Wolters made the right decision every single time. When he had to pass, he was right on the money. Scoring-wise, he was a bit long on most of his shots, but I saw nothing to worry about. Last year at SDSU he averaged 22.3 ppg on 48.5% from the field. His shot should come around nicely. I wish I could have seen him more tonight, but that just makes me more excited to see him play again.
- Over the course of this game, I came to understand something that always confused me as to why other bloggers love Ish Smith. Really, he's not that good. He can't finish well at the rim, or shoot, or play defense. The last meaningful minutes he played, when he started the 2nd half of Game 4 of MIL/MIA in the playoffs, it lead to the Heat making a run that clinched the series. But man, he's fun to watch. He's so fast, and with the ball he's reminiscent of a water bug darting around the court. He takes a lot of people off the dribble, and though it's as likely as not that he'll miss his shot, everything leading up to it looked so cool. His vision is decent enough, and he does have a weakness for trying a difficult pass, which is always exciting. (See: Ginobili, Manu.) Again, he's really not a good player, and I'm not sure he'll ever turn into one, but seriously: ISH SMITH NEEDS TO BE FREED.
- You might think I'm intentionally ignoring the Denver Nuggets performance from this game. But, trust me, I'm not. They were just pretty bad all the way around, and none of them stood out enough. In fact, it would make me sad to have to talk about the way any of them played basketball. Don't believe how bad they were? See for yourself.
On that note, we can put Day 2 to bed for good. I, for one, am looking forward to much more basketball, and far less screaming babies. Happy Summer League, everyone!