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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Early Summer League Returns

Although it seems like the NBA Finals just ended (they did), the NBA summer leagues have already kicked into gear. If you haven't had a chance to see the games in person, NBA TV's rebroadcasts of selected contests begin on Thursday. Meanwhile, looking at the box scores, a few things have stood out:

1) A ton of fouls have been called. Summer league has a no foul out rule, leading to some interesting stat lines: in a 90-87 Detroit win over Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire nearly had a quadruple double: 17 points, nine rebounds, 10 fouls (!) and eight turnovers. He shot only 3-9 from the field. Keep in mind that he put up those numbers against the likes of Cheikh Samb, Jason Maxiell and Nik Caner-Medley, not Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess. That microfracture surgery that Stoudemire had is no joke--just ask Chris Webber, Allan Houston, Penny Hardaway and a host of other players who never returned to pre-surgery form. Stoudemire is younger and stronger than those guys but that does not guarantee that he will ever again be the explosive player that he was before he went under the knife. He looked like a shell of himself in his brief return to action last season.

2) Marcus Williams had 24 points and 12 assists in an 86-84 New Jersey victory over Orlando. The Magic are holding J.J. Redick out of action for now to protect his balky back. Do you think picking Redick over Williams is a topic that may be examined once or twice or 1000 times in the next 5-10 years?

3) John Lucas had 26 points and four assists in an 88-82 Houston win over Portland. The Blazers' two prize rookies, Brandon Roy (12 points, eight assists, five rebounds) and LaMarcus Aldridge (eight points, three rebounds), performed solidly in their first taste of NBA action but Portland's best player that night was Martell Webster, who had 29 points and shot 5-8 from three-point range.

4) Number one overall pick Andrea Bargnani had 20 points and four rebounds in his summer league debut, a 93-85 Toronto win against Washington.

5) Of course, no summer league recap would be complete without an update on the Renaldo Balkman story. New York's surprise first round draft pick had six points and four rebounds in his first summer league game, a 95-71 New York win (!) over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course, Cleveland was led not by LeBron James but rather Sasha Pavlovic, who had 20 points. In his second game, Balkman had eight points and four rebounds but Phoenix blew out the Knicks 89-70; Stoudemire had 24 points but only 1 rebound in that game. Balkman had 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists in a 79-78 overtime win versus Sacramento. Ron Artest had seven points, four rebounds and four assists in limited action. So, Balkman has hardly set the world on fire but his numbers are improving each game.

posted by David Friedman @ 4:00 PM

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