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Las Vegas Summer League Preview: Day 7

Today marks the second round of the NBA summer league tournament and is also the Spurs' first game in two days, which feels like an eternity here in Las Vegas. There's a full slate of games to preview today, so let's dive right into it.

(Game start times are listed in STTOTTM.)
3:00 PM #10 San Antonio Spurs vs. #7 Cleveland Cavaliers

The Spurs have the earliest match-up of the day, facing off against the Cavs. For the Spurs, the biggest things to keep an eye on are the players they have invested time or money into previously. Meaning, basically, that the only players worth paying attention to are the ones that have a contract with San Antonio already (Joseph, De Colo, Baynes), or whomever has been a Spurs' draft pick in the past, (Thomas, Denmon and Richards). There's a low chance any of the players without a contract get signed this year, as there's only one spot open, which is probably going to Gary Neal either way. If they choose not to re-sign Neal, then it will likely go to someone like DeShaun Thomas or Marcus Denmon, who were both originally drafted by the Spurs, and have gotten big minutes here in Las Vegas. The Spurs view this more as a training exercise than a try-out, so anyone they haven't invested into isn't going to get that much run. For the Spurs to win this game, they must be able to stop Cleveland's Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. The established NBA duo have been great scorers for the Cavs and must be held in check if the Spurs plan on moving to the next round of the tournament.

Player to Watch: Aron Baynes, San Antonio Spurs
Baynes has been a little inconsistent this summer on offense, but that's not really what matters for him. His defense and rim protection will ultimately decide whether he leaves the bench or not this year. He has a chance to show off how far he has come in the Spurs' defensive schemes today. Zeller is an NBA big man who has good enough post moves to test how well Baynes can play in a one-on-one setting. And, with Ion Waiters slicing to the rim every chance he gets, it will be important for Baynes to be there on his rotations in help defense. This one game obviously won't decide whether Baynes will get minutes or not, but it could serve as a nice benchmark to see where he's at.

5:00 PM: #6 Toronto Raptors vs. #22 Denver Nuggets

Rejoice! For we (I) am able to watch Jonas Valanciunas again! Jonas has been the most dominant big man here by far, and it's quite enjoyable to watch him use his huge frame to get to anywhere he wants in the post. I expect that to be the same in this game. The Nuggets don't have anyone that can match Valanciunas down low and will have to try and out-shoot the Raptors. I'm not ruling anything out, because summer league has the randomness of the NCAA tournament, but I don't think they have the shooters capable of doing this. Jordan Hamilton probably won't catch lightning in a bottle again and drop 18 in a quarter. Quincy Miller probably won't go 5-5 from three-point land again. Although, if those events do happen again, I'm not going to complain.

Player to Watch: Jordan Hamilton, Denver Nuggets
Although Hamilton probably won't go off like he did against the Pelicans, he still merits a pair of eyes on him. With Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer gone there's an opening for minutes at the 3 spot. Most of those minutes will go to Wilson Chandler, Evan Fournier, and Danillo Gallinari, but some could fall to Hamilton, especially if there's an injury. Hamilton has a nice offensive game, ability to hit threes and can get into the lane well enough off the dribble. He's deserving of minutes and should have a chance to prove his worth when the regular season gets here.

7:00 PM: #3 Phoenix Suns vs. #19 Portland Trail Blazers

I'm going to ride the Portland Trail Blazers until the wheels fall off. They have the best rookie in Las Vegas. They have the most exciting team in Las Vegas. They have the most awkward big man who reminds me of myself in middle school. I'm going to war with them. The Suns? Not so much. They can be sort of fun at times, like when Marcus Morris hit that buzzer beater for the win. And they do have Archie Goodwin, who kind of looks like a baby horse learning how to walk because he really doesn't know what he's doing out there. But this baby horse has exceptional athleticism, gets into the lane with reckless abandon, and draws fouls, so it's okay. I'm really not sure what to expect from this game, because the Suns are very hot and cold in the summer league, but the Blazers will probably find a way to be down by about 10 points going into the 4th, only to come back and at least force the game into OT.

Player to Watch: Archie Goodwin, Phoenix Suns
I know I joke about Goodwin's lack of basketball know how, but that will come in time. He's only 18 right now, which is even younger than me, but he really does have some great athleticism. He's impressed so far this week in that he can get to the rim and draw fouls, and it's probably only going to get easier for him. Some Suns fans are already dubbing him as a future great one, and while they must pump the brakes quite a bit on that, it's clear that Goodwin does indeed have a bright future.

9:30 PM: #1 Golden State Warriors vs. #16 Dallas Mavericks

Ah, another chance to watch the Golden State Warriors' defense. I can't wait to be in awe of Kent Bazemore's closeouts and the Warriors' team effort to trap every pick and roll with the determination of a pit bull. It's fun, they're fun, this is what summer league is about. For Dallas, I'm still mainly concerned with whether Gal Mekel has swag or not. I couldn't decide after last game, although I'm leaning towards yes. He didn't score that much, but I was really impressed with the way he probed the defense to create passing lanes. I'll have my swag decision later in the daily recap.

Player to Watch: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Green has established himself as an NBA player already, and he has potential as a stretch-4, as Spurs fans saw in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. He's a hard-worker in the paint, gets rebounds, can make an open shot if given to him and seems very jovial. He's an all-around fun guy to watch and makes basketball enjoyable.