Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
When Austin Daye was being sized up as a pro prospect, one of the first shortcomings mentioned by his naysayers was his lanky build. Watching him up close in Las Vegas, Daye seems wholly unintimidated by back-line defenders. He actually initiates contact off the dribble, and it rarely throws him off his drive. He's gotten to the line 16 times in the past two games. He also recorded a double-digit rebound total for the third consecutive game.
DaJuan Summers has the proverbial nose for the ball. When Pistons point guard Sean Singletary drove baseline, Summers made a hard basket cut down the lane to collect the pass. When his man left him alone on the weak side, he crashed the offensive glass. That's how you get 15 shot attempts even though your team isn't running stuff for you. Summers hit only five of those 15 shots in his final Summer League game, but helped himself as much as anyone over the course of the past week.
After a silent first quarter against the Pistons, Cavs rookie Christian Eyenga got involved, did some nice work off the dribble against Daye, and worked hard defensively against the Pistons guards. Eyenga was the quickest guy on the floor when he was out there. The Cavs haven't been looking for him at all this week -- and he never calls for the ball -- so it's been hard to get a feel for the full range of his skills.
Jon Brockman is a hoss. Even though he looks like a tree trunk, he actually moves his feet well, has the makings of a good team defender, and did a nice job on a couple of Toney Douglas-Jordan Hill pick-and-rolls. There's no offensive game to speak of, but a good find by the Kings.
There's a good pick-and-pop player inside Jordan Hill, but it just hasn't materialized yet. Against the Kings, he demonstrated the mobility to work within Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's system and get himself shots. "He's got a lot of offensive talents," D'Antoni said. "He just has to get a little stronger and get his jump shot down to where he's confident with it." Hill went only 3-for-11 from the field.
Jonny Flynn didn't start on Friday, but he took sole ownership of the game when he checked in at the start of the second quarter. Time and again, Flynn would get a hard screen from one of his bigs (both Garrett Siler and Adam Parada did good work), then exploded through the middle into daylight, absorbing any and all contact. In the fourth quarter, Flynn unleashed the theatrics: a behind-the-back pass to Parada, a two-handed dish over his head backward to a waiting shooter, a kickout to the arc while he was airborne in traffic. He finished with 21 points on 7-of-11 from the floor, and a perfect 7-for-7 from the stripe.
In eight days, James Harden has yet to take a truly questionable shot. He's the most measured rookie in his class on the court. Even his turnovers are of the "... but it was a good idea" variety.
James Johnson's game can be disjointed at times. It's not that he looks lost. It's just the opposite -- he's a small forward with too many choices. Johnson couldn't buy a shot Friday (2-for-11 from the field), but he made four or five beautiful plays for teammates -- including a pinpoint interior bounce pass in traffic between two defenders to find James Augustine for a layup. Johnson finished with seven assists.
There's one team out here playing at maximum effort: The D-League Select. On the pro squads, everyone has an individual agenda. A contracted, first-round stud is out there for an entirely different reason than the journeyman trying to catch the attention of a European scout. The D-Leaguers, some of whom had offers to warm the bench of an NBA Summer League roster but opted for DLS -- as they're known in abbreviation -- are collective underdogs.
David Thorpe on Ty Lawson: "When he has to be your best offensive player, he's going to look average. This is one of the reasons he didn't stand out in the pre-draft camp a year ago in Orlando. But give him four talented players around him, and he'll make that collective group better than most other point guards could -- especially if those players can run." Friday, Lawson was playing with Coby Karl, Sonny Weems, Ronald Dupree, and Cedric Simmons, so he stopped deferring. Lawson initiated the offense himself, keeping the ball off high screens to either drive or shoot. He poured in 26 points on 17 possessions.
Zag Alert! Swingman Micah Downs carried Phoenix on Friday. He hit from distance, slashed from the wing, posted up his smaller defenders, racked up five steals, and was key in transition en route to 19 points on 12 possessions.