Las Vegas Summer League: Thoughts on all 22 teams as tournament play begins
Thursday July 18
1 p.m.: #7 Cleveland vs. #10 San Antonio (COX Pavilion)
Cavaliers: Dion Waiters entered summer league as a potential MVP candidate, but he’s shot just 29.5 percent and averaged more than three turnovers in three games. Does that matter? Probably not, but the Cavaliers couldn’t be faulted for wanting to see more as tournament play picks up.
Spurs: The famed San Antonio culture extends all the way to summer league. Remember the in-game video features during the playoffs that showed Gregg Popovich’s turning over some of the coaching duties to point guard Tony Parker during huddles? During a stoppage in play this week, Spurs assistant Ime Udoka called out to Parker’s backup, Cory Joseph, who immediately pulled his teammates together into a huddle to set their defensive plan for the next possession.
1:30 p.m.: #8 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #9 Milwaukee (Thomas & Mack)
Lakers: The Lakers stand out as a truly random assortment among rosters that are generally pretty random. Lester Hudson, 28, has been big for them. Need I say more?
Bucks: John Henson, the 14th pick in 2012, is averaging 14 points, 14 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. Meanwhile, Chris Daniels dropped the hammer on Quincy Miller.
3 p.m.: #6 Toronto vs. Winner of New Orleans/Denver (COX Pavilion)
Raptors: The phrase that keeps going around about Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas is “man among boys.” His play, which has often been borderline dominant on both ends, offers a sliver of satisfaction for former team president Bryan Colangelo. As his successor, Masai Ujiri, has wasted no time tearing apart a messy roster, Colangelo can at least console himself with the knowledge that Valanciunas, a risky pick in 2011 because he waited a year to come to the NBA, is looking like he will develop into a franchise centerpiece.
3:30 p.m.: #5 Charlotte vs. Winner of Washington/Memphis (Thomas & Mack)
Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the second pick in 2012, has been a bit underwhelming. But 2013 first-round pick Cody Zeller has helped make up for it, showing nice versatility and averaging 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.
5 p.m.: #3 Phoenix vs. Winner of Atlanta/Portland (COX Pavilion)
Suns: The Morris brothers — Marcus and Markieff — were born to be summer-league All-Stars. The twins argue calls incessantly, stand up for each other at every turn, uncork elaborate handshakes, break off plays so that they can operate in isolation and generally do what they please. Phoenix is undefeated and both brothers are averaging at least 12 points, so it’s all good.
5:30 p.m.: #4 NBA D-League Select vs. Winner of Minnesota/Sacramento (Thomas & Mack)
D-League Select: The camaraderie on this 3-0 team is pretty amazing considering that every player is looking to make a name for himself in one way or another. (The roster includes former second-round picks Kyle Weaver, Darnell Jackson.) The coaching staff really takes the cake, though. It repeatedly screamed at its players for not sagging off poor jump shooters during Tuesday’s victory against the Mavericks. There’s daring an opponent to shoot, and then there’s strategically yelling at the top of your lungs so that the entire gym knows you believe your opponent has no chance of knocking down a jumper. The D-League squad falls firmly in the latter category. Good times.
7 p.m.: #2 Chicago vs. Winner of New York/Miami (COX Pavilion)
Bulls: One guy worthy of some extra buzz is Marquis Teague, who is averaging 17.3 points and 5.7 assists while generally making life miserable for his defender with his insanely quick moves off the dribble. Meanwhile, former Lakers guard Andrew Goudelock is having a summer league that Nate Robinson, Jerryd Bayless and Josh Selby would be proud of, shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 60 percent (9-for-15) from three-point range to average 22.7 points.
7:30 p.m.: #1 Golden State vs. Winner of Dallas/Los Angeles Clippers (Thomas & Mack)
Warriors: The stars of the show have been Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green, who together provide an intensity and talent level that many other teams haven’t matched. Bazemore, in particular, has been impressive, averaging 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists while playing aggressive chest-to-chest defense.