My first day at Las Vegas Summer League involved catching at least some parts of 7 of the 8 games played between Thomas and Mack Center (UNLV Basketball's court and Cox Pavilion (the smaller venue just adjacent).
I admit that much of the time I was buried in the laptop, reporting on Randolph and Bledsoe, but I did catch enough of the action to make some observations.
Here are some of the players that made an impression on me today:
- Noah Vonleh had a very forgettable day, racking up his limit of 6 fouls in only 17 minutes and not making a big impact when he was out there. Vonleh looks raw and unsure what to do on offense. Basically, he looks 18.
- P.J. Hairston shot the heck out the ball, never fearing from taking a long shot not matter how contested. Today, he connected on a lot - getting 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting.
- Dante Exum, also 18, looked better than his stat line showed (5 points, 2 assists, 0 rebounds). He looks like a player for sure. He's tall and lanky, but smooth with the ball. He played point most of the game, with Trey Burke off the ball. Not sure if that will continue in the regular season, but I doubt it. Burke is a better point guard at this time. Exum looks talented, but he still doesn't really know how to play the game.
- Rudy Gobert (my #10 pick in the SB Nation Mock Draft last year) looked good in his minutes. He's long, smooth and can pass the rock better than you'd expect. He can also inhale rebounds and score at the basket. He scored 12 points and pulled down 6 rebounds in only 18 minutes because he racked up 5 fouls.
- Rodney Hood, with 19 points and 5 rebounds, played well but I didn't notice him much so he wasn't that kind of stand out player.
- I only caught a few minutes of Adreian Payne but he looked exactly as I expected - active on the court, and deadly from deep (3 for 5 on 3s) for 19 points, but he only grabbed 3 rebounds. He moves well on the court and will fit in the Atlanta rotation very well. The Hawks were #2 in the league three pointers taken per possession, just ahead of the Suns.
- Walter Tavares, 7'3", is as huge as you'd think. He made an impact on the game with his size in the paint, scoring 8 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in limited minutes.
- Andrew Wiggins is a true talent in this league. He stands out from everyone with his size and athleticism and shwag. He just looks the part. Today, he drove, drove and drove some more, drawing 20 free throws (making 15) on the day. He made some nice passes that his teammates didn't convert into scores, and grabbed five rebounds as well. On the other end, like many stars today, he committed several fouls (4) and turnovers (4). After the game, Wiggins was not made available for interviews even though he was supposed to be. Maybe it had to do with rumors. I dunno.
- Anthony Bennett looked better today than I thought he would, but he still didn't have a big impact despite being one of the largest guys on the court. He scored 11 points and pulled down 6 rebounds, but committed 5 fouls and 3 turnovers as the Cavs lost.
- Doug McDermott - For much of the first half, Doug acted as a decoy by just running to the corner/angle three point line on the weak side as the action (mostly through Tony Snell) ran on the other side. On the defensive end, he was occasionally targeted but held his own okay. His best sequence was a double block on a guy driving on him, followed by a long three at the other end within seconds. McBuckets indeed. To put the two blocks in context, Doug had 6 total in his last two years of college (per a tweet I saw. Don't kill me if I'm wrong, Jacob!). McD finished with 11 points, 2 blocks, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 5 fouls.
- Nerlens Noel - his kid is definitely athletic. He guarded the paint with persistence, often leaving his man early to contest the drive. He can sky, showing that he has not lost any athleticism from the injury last year (or, it means he was THAT much more athletic than most everyone here). However, I still can't get over how loose his joints are. Arms and legs just moving every which way. When he went down (to what turned out to be an ankle twist), the replay showed his knees buckling this way and that and that DIDN'T EVEN PHASE HIM. Meaning, they are bendy all the time. Meaning, he's got to worry about someone falling on him. Meaning, I can see why the Suns docs passed on him, despite his talent.
The Suns play their final SL game tomorrow, a welcome respite for a team that played 4 games in 5 days and came up short against the trees of Minnesota.
I'll be at the game tomorrow and will provide coverage like a normal game day.
Hopefully, the Suns won't rest any of their guys but don't be surprised to see Miles Plumlee and/or T.J. Warren sit out. But really, why would they sit? They don't have any more games until October after this.
Will keep you updated throughout the day.