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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Summer League Action is in Full Swing

First, I want to correct something that I wrote in my earlier summer league post: there is not a no foul out rule during summer league play, but players are allowed 10 fouls--instead of the usual six--before they are disqualified. With four extra fouls and eight fewer minutes of game time, it is difficult--but not impossible--to foul out.

The Vegas Summer League has now completed play but NBA TV taped the games and is broadcasting doubleheaders in the evening for the rest of July. Although most of the summer league teams are being helmed by assistant coaches, many head coaches and GMs are in attendance, so you never know who might show up at the broadcast table for an impromptu interview while the game is going on.

During my appearance on BetUS.com Radio on Tuesday, I mentioned that Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge performed well for Portland in Las Vegas. Portland acquired Roy in a draft day trade with Minnesota for the rights to Randy Foye and it should be pointed out that Foye also is having an excellent summer: he averaged 24.8 ppg on .530 shooting from the field in Las Vegas and was selected as the league MVP. John Lucas (Houston), Roy, Kevin Martin (Sacramento), Amare Stoudamire (Phoenix) and Ryan Gomes (Boston) joined him on the Vegas Summer League First Team. Stoudemire played in three of the five games, averaging 20.7 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Number one overall pick Andrea Bargnani averaged 13.2 ppg and 3.8 rpg, earning VSL Second Team honors.

New York Knicks' rookies Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins did not put up gaudy statistics but both played well. They have the ability and willingness to play defense. Balkman displayed ballhandling and passing capabilities that no one--other than perhaps Isiah Thomas--realized he possesses. Collins' game resembles that of fellow Temple alumnus Aaron McKie. I expect that Balkman and Collins will make positive contributions during the regular season. Isiah Thomas plans to install what he terms the "Quick" offense. This is the same system that he ran when he coached Indiana and, as he points out, Jermaine O'Neal and Brad Miller blossomed into All-Stars under Thomas' tutelage and Al Harrington developed into a good NBA player. "Quick" combines principles from John Wooden's UCLA offense, Bobby Knight's Indiana offense (very familiar to Thomas, of course, as a former Hoosier under Knight) and Tex Winter's Triangle Offense. "Quick" is a good system and Thomas will do well at teaching it. What I wonder is will Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis share the ball and accept that they cannot just dribble away every possession and, if either or both do not accept this, will Thomas bench his high priced stars in favor of guys who play team ball? I have no doubt that guys like Balkman and Collins will not only soak up everything that Thomas says about "Quick," but will also play harder and more tenaciously at the defensive end than Marbury and Francis. That will make the allocation of minutes very interesting. It seems that Balkman can play multiple positions, so he could conceivably share court time with Marbury and Francis.

How significant is it to be a summer league star? Last year, Chris Paul showed flashes of his ability by making the Vegas League Second Team before becoming the consensus Rookie of the Year. On the other hand, other members of the Second Team (Luis Flores, Linas Kleiza) and even the First Team (Travis Outlaw, Jason Maxiell) hardly distinguished themselves once the regular season began. Sebastian Telfair made the First Team last year and the Second Team this year. His game is well suited for summer league play, but don't expect him to show up on any regular season All-Star teams. He has some of the same weaknesses as his cousin Stephon Marbury--overdribbling, poor defense--and these problems are compounded by his small size and questionable outside shot. He is a good penetrator and can make some flashy passes but I think that by the end of his career he will have a bunch of All-Summer League awards but very pedestrian regular season statistics/honors.

posted by David Friedman @ 3:00 PM


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At Friday, July 21, 2006 9:50:00 PM, Blogger alternaviews said...

Yeah, good call on admiring T.O. as a personality. You were right on that one.

Anyone who claims to have been misquoted in his own autobiography clearly has great character. http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5784632?FSO1&ATT=HMA

Right. You keep on believing that...

At Saturday, July 22, 2006 4:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I did not say that T.O has great character. What I said (over in the comments to the June post about Shaq's false modesty, for those who wonder what we are talking about) is that he is an example of an athlete who is arrogant, lets everyone know it but backs up his arrogance with a strong performance on the field--and yes, I'd rather hear T.O. say "Get your popcorn ready" or "Who can make a play? I can!" right before he catches a 65 yard touchdown than hear Shaq talk over and over about how great it is that he is deferring to D. Wade. That doesn't mean that I think that Shaq is a bad person or that T.O. is a great person, because I have no way of knowing. I'd just rather hear sincere arrogance than false modesty. Again, I am expressing a personal preference, not a professional one; as a writer, it doesn't make a difference to me, because if I am doing a story about someone I just report what that person says, whether it is arrogant, humble or falsely humble.

I don't know what's up with T.O. and his autobiography. I remember Barkley also saying that he was misquoted in his autobiography a few years ago; the TNT guys still rag him about that from time to time. What I do know about T.O. is that he works out hard, practices hard and plays hard. You said that Belichick would never take a guy like T.O. but you never responded when I pointed out that he took a guy with a worse rap sheet (literally): Corey Dillon. Also, if Parcells is taking a chance on T.O. how can you be so sure that Belichick wouldn't? I respect T.O. as an athlete because he gets the job done on the field but what if we look at him the way you wanted to look at Kobe--based on how many friends he has in the league and how teammates react to him (call it the Mark Madsen/Samaki Walker test, since those were two of your "chief witnesses" against Kobe). When T.O. called out McNabb, I didn't see too many Eagles running to McNabb's defense--and even after T.O. was suspended by the team, a bunch of Eagles went to a party that T.O. hosted, which would seem to be a dis to McNabb. So whether we judge T.O. by on field performance or by how much his teammates seem to like him, T.O. seems to fare well.

There is something about the wide receiver position that either attracts divas or turns people into them. One guy who has a lot of talent but I would not want--and I'll bet Belichick wouldn't either--is Randy Moss. He quits on plays, doesn't block and plays hard only when he feels like it. I'd take Owens any day of the week over Moss.


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