I really didn’t know what to expect out of my first NBA Summer League day. I figured it’d be a fun way to get an close look at a possible legend in the making like Zion Williamson, or find a diamond in the rough I could smugly tell my friends back home about.
Overall though, I assumed it’d be basically just high level open-gym intramural basketball. Most of these guys aren’t sure bets to have NBA careers, but they have enough potential to warrant an invitation to the exhibitions. So, I figured what’s the harm in checking these dudes out and having a couple of beers in an air conditioned environment in scorching Las Vegas?
Little did I know that the movers and shakers of the NBA world would be in attendance. As Thomas Bevilacqua and I walked around the Thomas & Mack center searching for an entrance, we were shocked to stumble upon Dwight Howard making his way into a car. Inside the arena, LeBron James and Anthony Davs were hanging out courtside. Mark Cuban walked by us and Dr. Tom shouted, “WE BELIEVE!” at him. John Wall and Bradley Beal took in the action from courtside as well.
Here’s a few of my takeaways from the Warriors victory:
- Jacob Evans III is a determined defender with good instincts. He was given the majority of point-guard duties, and although he’s a willing passer, his mechanical dribbling allows defenders to predict his actions and prevent him from penetrating consistently. It was good to see him eventually work his way to some scoring spots on the floor; he seemed most comfortable pulling up for mid-range jumpers. His 24 points were very encouraging.
- Alen Smailagic can be a real bull in a china shop. Whenever he got the ball and felt like the offense was stalled, he pushed the turbo button and began barreling through defenders. His four turnovers came because of this, but it was entertaining to watch. He’s not afraid to get physical, snatching 8 rebounds. He also showed a sweet outside touch, drilling a 4-PT play early in the game.
- Jordan Poole was aggressive as well, scoring 21 points and getting down hill repeatedly. He’s listed at 6-foot-5 and had some trouble finishing amongst the trees, but that didn’t deter him from flying into the paint at every opportunity. He was the best ball handler the Warriors had all night, and when he got into a rhythm, the Summer League Dubs looked a bit like the dynasty Dubs in terms of pace-and-space. He’s a born scorer.
- Former Warrior Chris Boucher was EVERYWHERE for the Raptors. He scored 21 points and added 13 rebounds. His length and athleticism looked positively Anthony Randolph-esque, and there were a few times it seemed like his arms extended out to unbelievable lengths to snatch a rebound or contest a shot. This dude might just crack a regular rotation in the NBA.
Can the Warriors groom these youngsters to provide much needed help for the upcoming season? GSoM will have boots on the ground here in Vegas to keep tabs on it for ya!