Tip-off: 3:30 PM PT
Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
TV: CSN Bay Area (local); NBA TV (national)
Blog Buddy: Sactown Royalty
The Warriors tip-off their third Summer League game today against Sacramento, a franchise that no one can seem to figure out.
They've not sniffed the playoffs in the last few seasons. Their front office makes bizarre trades and strange draft picks (#JimmerForever). Their ownership group, led by Vivek Ranadive, hires a coach before a general manager; tries to play 4-on-5; fires the general manager without telling him to bring on a former legend in Vlade Divac, who has no experience in basketball decision-making whatsoever; and dismisses the one coach, Michael Malone, who had any sense of a solid rapport with the team's best player, DeMarcus Cousins, to bring on George Karl. Karl, Malone, Cousins, and Divac were all at the Kings' Summer League game yesterday, and it was very interesting to see how Cousins interacted -- or didn't interact -- with them.
This offseason, the team traded away two of its top young players, Nik Stauskas and Ray McCallum, in order to get a well-past-his-prime Rajon Rondo, Caron Butler, and Marco Belinelli. Good signings if you're looking for them to play a supporting role on a contending team, but if the Kings want them to be big-time producers for a full season, yikes. Luckily, they drafted Willie Cauley-Stein (University of Kentucky), a high-energy player and shot-blocking maestro ... who just so happens to play the same position as Cousins.
Summer League is all about honing skills and getting in NBA shape, not about wins and losses. The Warriors may have lost a heartbreaker to the Atlanta Hawks yesterday, but that's not what really matters. There were a couple of Warriors players who caught my eye last night.
This past season's D-League Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Craft is an absolute defensive pest in the mold of Patrick Beverley; he harasses his opponents, and I could hear him screaming defensive assignments from about five rows up. He has been a solid distributer in Vegas so far as well, averaging six dimes a game. One thing I'd like to see Craft work on is his quickness; he got blown by a couple of times, and -- if he does make the big club -- the players he'll be going up against in the NBA are much faster and stronger than these fringe or non-NBA players.
As Bram mentioned, Kevon Looney, the Warriors' first-round pick out of UCLA, is an absolute monster on the boards. His motor is incredible, like few players' I've seen in Vegas so far. Looney has one mindset when rebounding: Get the ball. There were a few plays last game where he got two or even three offensive rebounds on a single possession, and his high energy should be a boon for the Warriors.
For the Kings, this will be my first chance to get to see Willie Cauley-Stein in person, and, as I've heard all about his defensive prowess, I'm looking to see what his game is like on the offensive end. Is he at least somewhat polished down low? Can he hold his own against Ognjen Kuzmic (and MATT STAINBROOK)? James Anderson and DeAndre Liggins have been on NBA rosters in the past, and it will be interesting to see what they can do against the talented and lengthy James Michael McAdoo.
Also, congratulations to Stephen Curry and Ayesha Curry on the birth of their second daughter, Ryan Carson Curry!