I’m out here in Vegas watching a client put some work in at the NBA’s Summer League. I’ve gotten a chance to see some of the newly drafted players I wanted to see, as well as the Knicks summer league team. I noticed some things right off the bat in my 1st two days here.
The Knicks summer league team is not very good. At all. But it was an opportunity to watch James White back in the NBA style of play. The 1st game I saw he was very passive offensively; a stark contrast since he lead the Italian Basketball League in scoring last year. At 6’7 and about 210lbs, he’ll contribute off the bench and could even slide into the starting rotation because of his defense. The experience and skill is there. Once his confidence climbs, White will be fine for training camp.
I also liked Chris Copeland. Copeland actually just signed to the Knicks for a year. Copeland has impressed me every time he’s inside the rectangle. As a forward, he’s tenacious and aggressive, plus he’s a decent shooter. He has a respectable shot selection and never gives up on 2nd shot opportunities. He reminds me a lot of a young Richard Jefferson. And we know what Kidd did for RJ.
* The lesser known brothers of JR Smith and Austin Rivers didn’t get much shine. Chris Smith and Jeremiah Rivers (who didn’t play at all because of bone spurs) haven’t wow’d me. Rivers in fact is terrible compared to his younger brother.
I think 97% of us were utterly shocked to see 3rd string guard Dion Waiters go at the #4 spot to the Cavaliers. I thought the Cavs would’ve selected a big man 1st, considering Antawn Jamison was going to be a unrestricted free agent. They did get Tyler Zeller though via trade. Plus Waiters hadn’t worked out for any teams and was allegedly promised to the Suns, so yeah, I was just lost. With Kyrie Irving injured, Waiters has the optimal opportunity to really show what he’s made of as a starter. I liked that he attacked the paint on many of his possessions. Unfortunately, you could tell he rushed every shot that was outside of the 16 foot mark. In general, he has a terrible shot selection beyond the paint. If he’s determined to be a shoot-first type of SG, I’d like to see him improve his range. At 6’4, developing a 18-20ft dagger can make Waiters a solid Tier 2 guard in the vein of say Rodney Stuckey.
I love watching the Celtics’ summer team! Thus far, they’re the most pro-ready team I’ve had a chance to see in person. E’Twan Moore has gotten his chance in spurts with Doc Rivers. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Fab Melo and Kris Joseph because I’m not a Big East fan. But who better to mentor these front court guys than Kevin Garnett? Fab Melo, in particular, is agile and quick on his feet for a 7 footer. Sullinger is a big bodied PF, which will come in handy on those pick-and-pop screens that Jason Terry and Paul Pierce love. You don’t see too many 270 pounders who can score the way Sully does either. Given that Kris Joseph got injured in the 1st half of last night’s game and likely may not play the rest of the week, I wonder what type of favor he’ll have with Ainge and Doc.
The Celtics played against the Bulls, who I’d been wanting to check out since they’ve made a few moves. For starters, Kyle Korver was traded and brought back Kirk Hinrich. They also let go of CJ Watson and Omer Asik. With Rose out indefinitely, I wanted to see what type of summer talent they’d have to pick from to fill that back court. Marquis Teague was an underrated pick in the draft and D.M (who’s a Bulls fan) wanted them to draft him. Tonight was the 1st time I’d seen him play and I could tell he’s got a lot to work on. He’s quick like his brother Jeff, but at only 19, he has no confidence. Jimmy Butler was the only Bulls player who realized this was an audition for a league-minimum check.
To their credit, the Celtics were so good defensively that I can’t elaborate on any other Bulls players. What will be really dope is if the Bulls can grab Dionte Christmas, who’s playing for the Celtics. He’s a consistent shooter, good passer, and just as quick as Teague. He reminds me a bit of Devin Harris. He’d easily be ready to start until Rose comes back.