With the NBA’s Vegas summer league now behind us, the evaluations and discussions of how everyone, from first-rounders to journeyman pros, performed in Sin City will start rolling in. We already know that DeMarcus Cousins was a better rookie than John Wall, who was a more valuable player than DeMarcus Cousins. We also know that sometimes awards don’t make a whole lot of sense.
Today’s notes come from The Daily Dime, which I initially thought was just the reason my buddy visits the hippie in the 3rd floor apartment every day on his lunch break, but apparently it’s also some kind of NBA info-center for those interested in such things. The Cats are a big part of their Vegas league recap, so let’s take a look at what TWWL had to say about them:
You can usually find scattered seats in Cox Pavilion during the summer league — but not for Washington’s first three games. John Wall not only excited fans; he filled the VIP sections as well. “It’s not just that he’s the No. 1 pick,” said one NBA head coach. “He’s also what every coach and general manager wants with the way the game is being played.” Wall led the summer league in points (23.5) and assists (7.8) per game, and added four rebounds and 2.5 steals to those averages.
The superlatives and comps were flowing freely: Derrick Rose with defense and charisma. Chris Paul with better size. Rajon Rondo with more upside on his jump shot. One of the privileges of the summer league is the opportunity to observe a top prospect in a meaningful context.
After months of discussion about wingspan, upside, motor and potential, we finally have the chance to watch the player in a game situation. Seeing Wall run the pick-and-roll with JaVale McGee was a revelation for skeptics and reassurance for the true believers.
Even those who came into the summer league with conflicted feelings about the young Sacramento Kings center were taken aback by the polar extremes Cousins displayed during his six games in Las Vegas. In his first three games, Cousins unveiled a broad range of skills, far more than his reputation as a raw big man suggested. He drained face-up jumpers, handled the ball in transition, worked off the dribble against defenders from the top of the circle, gobbled up rebounds then flicked perfect outlet passes 50 feet downcourt, and gracefully played pick-and-roll basketball with his guards.
But we also saw Cousins’ immaturity and petulant body language. He jawed incessantly at opposing centers like Greg Stiemsma and nagged game officials with impunity. After shooting 45.8 percent over his first three games, Cousins went 9-for-45 from the field in his final three and also saw his rebounding totals sag.
When the Kings’ coaching staff gave him instructions during huddles, Cousins pouted and looked away. Whether his fall-off was a product of poor conditioning, irritability or just self-disgust, one thing is certain: He has more talent than advertised — and it’s going to be more difficult to harness than most of us realized.
Bledsoe Looking Sharper
LAS VEGAS — After turning the ball over 28 times in his first four games, Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe put together a heady, controlled performance against the D-League Select team. He changed speeds and read the defense beautifully off high ball screens from Rod Benson — bursting into the paint only when invited, and making smart passes or drawing contact when the defense converged. He scored 13 points (6-for-10 from the field), grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists against three turnovers.
So there you have it. In awe of Wall, tough but fair on Boogie (although I don’t think his affinity for trash-talking is a bad thing) and impressed by Bledsoe’s progress. All in all it was a successful Vegas league for those formerly of the Blue and White. Feel free to discuss ESPN’s evaluations or add your own in the comments.