There are, perhaps, more subplots in Summer League that don't necessarily have tangible impacts on the game, but to the players themselves. One of the running themes in this week's new tournament-style Summer League was, of course, how it was so painstakingly tough to watch—like your son's baseball game that you'll never admit. This is America, and we love to complain. After another bogged down affair with a Charlotte Bobcats team that didn't bother playing Jeff Taylor, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (all of whom could probably use the reps), it's apparent teams don't care for winning a championship. There are certain measures we can take to fix this, but I'll delve deeper after all this is over.
For now, it's been a real treat—argue all you want about teams not trying, but this Warriors has been on nitrous the whole week—to watch undrafted rookies and D-League thrive in this grueling format. While it's just a maelstrom of individual players trying to impress coaches by themselves, the defensive concepts that were instilled into the big league club last season has resurfaced in this year's edition.
Cameron Jones is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to watch. According to what I've heard from Nate Parham, it appears that he, along with other guys will receive camp invites in a few weeks. What he excels in isn't as flashy as a Bazemore dunk or even a Scott Machado assist. He gets in the right spots in transition and on defense. What he doesn't do well (perhaps too small to defend and too slow to get by people), he compensates by keeping his body motionless when shooting and dribbling through traffic. On one occasion, he sprinted to the left corner as Machado drove down the right lane, then when he realized Machado was stuck, sprinted to the right side, set his feet and nailed a corner three, all in one effortless motion (also credit to Machado for setting a screen right after the pass). Delightful endeavor.
Scott Machado struggled shooting (surprise!) but was excellent in transition and didn't turn the ball over at all in nearly 18 minutes of play. Though it appears he won't have a chance to stick with the team, it won't be surprising if he gets a chance overseas or a team in need of a backup guard.
Lance Goulbourne is listed at 6' 8" but that might be a little generous. Given his short stature and position, it's amazing to see him score at this level. He has a nice touch around the rim, goes up strong and a solid mid-range jumper. Though probably destined for the D-League, there's a chance if he can become a smarter defender, he could fight for some minutes until Festus Ezeli makes his way from injury.
I love Ian Clark. He was my guy before Summer League, and he has done nothing to prove me wrong—and I'm wrong more often than Doomsday predictors. A quick release, deceptively strong handle, and a 6' 2.25" player with a 6' 6.5" wingspan (all the rage this week) all help him disrupt dribble-drives. Though he shot 3-13 tonight, it's safe to say he'll get a chance to play into a rotation spot during training camp. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled a Bazemore and found his way onto a roster. Shooting and defense are all the rage, and Clark oozes potential to excel in both areas.
James Southerland shoots. And shoots. At Syracuse, he had one goal, stand behind the three-point line and shoot. Did I mention that he shoots? And does it well, going a perfect 3-3, and 36.4 percent this week. Unfortunately, it appears that's the only aspect of the game he excels at. Despite standing 6' 8", he isn't necessarily quick, nor has the wherewithal to break the defense off the dribble. Perhaps that's a bullet he's saving for tomorrow, or in the future, but without the ability to expand his game in different ways, it'll be tough to see him get an invite.
Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green
There was an apparent rift between ESPN writer Ethan Strauss and Green before the game and though I'm not really sure what went on, it looked like Green was out to prove something, whatever that was. He made a long two to start the game but struggled with his shot throughout. Green will always play great defense, rebound at an above-average rate and make the right passes, but without a consistent shot, it's tough to see much improvement. He's simply too slow to score at the rim, even when blowing by the first wave of defenders. I'm one of Green's greatest supporters but let's also keep in mind that he won't be called on to shoot 17 times a game in the season. He should be just fine.
Bazemore struggled shooting (I've written this too many damn times this week) but showed great ability to run the pick-and-roll and to find defenders crosscourt and in front of him. The point guard experiment has been a mixed bag, as evidenced by his four turnovers today, but like Green, don't look for him to handle the ball this much in the regular season. The shot is getting there, the defense is near-elite and he shouldn't play more than 15 minutes game. It doesn't get much better than that.
Though that was my last game in Vegas, I'll have more thoughts on the experience coming this week.