Updated: July 17, 2010, 1:11 PM ET

1. Kings Looking To Better Future

By Zach Harper
TrueHoop Network

LAS VEGAS -- Contrary to popular belief, there isn't always a blueprint to rebuild an NBA team.

Once the Sacramento Kings decided to go into a full rebuilding mode a couple of years ago, they went with the simple strategy of grabbing the best player available instead of trying to color within the lines of some "How To Rebuild Your NBA Franchise" book. This can be a risky strategy when you're a team moving sideways instead of forward in the rehabilitation process. Trying to put a Band-Aid over a cut that needs stitches has been a flaw of many teams that don't adhere to a set style of rebuilding.

The Kings are retooling their team by capitalizing on the errors of other organizations. Instead of grabbing a relatively local name in University of Memphis star freshman Tyreke Evans, the Grizzlies opted for Hasheem Thabeet. Instead of selecting DeMarcus Cousins to be their wrecking force in the middle, the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves played it safe with their selections. The Kings gladly took both of these players and are using them to get back into the conversation of playoff contention.

It's easy to say the Kings have been fortunate to have such potentially transcendent building blocks fall to them even though they've received some of the worst lottery luck in recent memory. But their strategy of taking the biggest, toughest player available in back-to-back lotteries needs to be regarded as more genius than luck. The Kings are in the process of putting a big, young team together. They have one of the deepest frontcourts in the NBA with Cousins, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Samuel Dalembert, Jon Brockman and Hassan Whiteside. They have young prospects on the perimeter with Evans, Donté Greene and Omri Casspi. And they have the financial flexibility and pragmatism to either let this roster grow together or move pieces to acquire a capable veteran.

The thing the Kings don't have is the stubbornness to not admit when something isn't working. They traded Kevin Martin to the Rockets despite the fact he's theoretically a very good piece to put alongside Evans. They traded Spencer Hawes just three years after drafting the skilled big man following his freshman year at Washington in order to make room for Cousins.

In an offseason in which they had carved out more than $15 million in cap space, they've managed to remain patient and responsible when other owners are constricting any sense of cap flexibility with overambitious signings. The Kings aren't spending freely just because they have the money. When you're not building with regard to a system, you have the capacity to wait for the right guy to come along.

The Kings are willing to bet on their recent drafts. They look at their two new big men and the success they're both having in this summer league as a harbinger for success. They're not making moves just to make moves.

And that's the best blueprint for progress.

Zach Harper is a regular contributor to the Daily Dime.

Summer League Dimes Past: July 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

2. Monroe Adjusting As Week Progresses

By Kevin Arnovitz

LAS VEGAS -- Summer league action can be a tough place for a skill-to-size big man to brandish the full breadth of his game. Much of the action consists of speedy guards buzzing through traffic or one-on-one isolations on the block for post players who need their reps. For a player like Detroit first-round pick Greg Monroe, whose finest moments often occur in the high post as a facilitator, the experience is like being a tenor in a death metal band.

True to form, Monroe had a shaky start in Las Vegas. In his first three summer league games, he converted only 11 of his 26 shots from the field. Many of those smart passes that were Monroe's hallmark at Georgetown were flubbed by unfamiliar teammates, which, in turn, made Monroe a more tentative, less decisive player.

Monroe got on track in his fourth game against Miami on Wednesday. Rather than try to conform his deferential style to the ragtag play of summer league, he looked to score, and did so efficiently -- 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field and 8-for-10 from the stripe.

On Friday against New York, Monroe unfurled his complete range of skills for his most complete performance of the week. He finished with 27 points (8-for-10 from the field) and 14 rebounds. Monroe was both playmaker and scorer, facilitator and dominator. He showcased some strong post-and-seal sequences, unleashed a nifty soft hook and threw an outlet pass the length of the floor to Marquez Hayes for an easy transition finish.

"As the week progressed, I got a lot more comfortable," Monroe said. "I got into a groove today."

No big man in the 2010 draft class has a more aesthetically pleasing offensive repertoire, something that was captured on a single play in the first half when he delivered a no-look interior pass in the paint, through traffic, to his baseline cutter. When the ball clanked out, Monroe -- a prolific college rebounder -- grabbed it, then muscled his way to the rim through a scrum of Knicks defenders for a basket-and-one. It was an assertive possession for a guy sometimes unfairly tagged with the "soft" label.

For young, versatile bigs, balancing the instincts to create opportunities for others with a need to establish yourself as a scorer can be an enormous burden. With the ball in your hands, it's often paralyzing to weigh all those choices as the defense swarms toward you. Encountering NBA double-teams is one of the hardest lessons for centers and power forwards, which makes Monroe's capacity to deal with defensive pressure vital to his success. On several occasions, Monroe eluded traps along the sideline by merely putting the ball on the deck, dribbling out of trouble, then making a sharp pass to a teammate up top to ignite a ball reversal.

"It's about accepting the double-team but also attacking it," Monroe said. "I was very comfortable when they came with double-teams trying to make plays."

Monroe reads defenses inordinately well. Unlike so many young centers and power forwards, he's able to keep the ball moving. For a Detroit team that finished 21st in offensive efficiency and 23rd in assist rate, those gifts will help unclog the morass in the Pistons' half court.

3. Triumphs And Travails Of JaVale McGee

By Kyle Weidie
TrueHoop Network

LAS VEGAS -- Most of Wizards summer league coach Sam Cassell's yelling voice was spent getting on JaVale McGee during Friday's 90-89 Summer League win over the Hornets, on a buzzer-beater by Lester Hudson no less.

"Run, JaVale!" Cassell would bellow. "Two hands, JaVale!"

He was on him the whole game. It paid off, because McGee stole the show with an array of offensive moves, including an insane dunk on New Orleans' Kyle Hines with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, bringing the Wizards within one at 77-76.

"I surprised myself to tell you the truth. I thought I was going to dunk it, but I ain't think … I felt like the rim was at my waist," McGee said.

He was so amped that he missed the free-throw that would've tied the score. McGee finished with 29 points on 13-of-16 shooting and eight rebounds.

Wizards coach Flip Saunders, who watched the game courtside while Cassell coached, wasn't as impressed with the dunk.

"The best play he had all night was that jump hook, because that was a big time play where he had to score over somebody and make some type of a move," Saunders said, referring to McGee's bucket that tied the game at 72 with six minutes left in the fourth.

McGee also took a bunch of shots that make a coach cringe, then they would go in. Going behind the back on a drive to the hoop that left John Wall laughing and shaking his head, immediately firing a shot off an offensive rebound with 21 seconds still left in a quarter, hitting a long jumper with 17 seconds in the game to put the Wizards up 88-86 … McGee tried just about everything and succeeded.

"JaVale McGee is an interesting kind of guy," Cassell said after the game. "He's a guy who makes you say, like you said, 'No, no, no, no!' but he finds a way to make plays like that. Not normal, not typical for centers at 7-1 to do the things he does. But hey, it works."

Saunders seems to believe McGee has made progression on offense since his impatient days last season.

"If JaVale does straight line drives he's OK," Saunders said. "It's when he starts doing thing sideways. Even on those drives, he was pretty much under control. It wasn't like sometimes during the regular season where he was just frantically going to the basket."

If McGee plays more patiently, more within himself (which seems rather limitless), the Wizards will have no problem with him doing whatever he wants on offense every now and then. It's pretty easy to sit back and be amazed by his skills.

Kyle Weidie is a regular contributor to the Daily Dime.

4. Daily Dime Live Recap

ESPN.com writers and TrueHoop Network bloggers chatted with fans and gave their in-game opinions throughout Friday's action -- all on Daily Dime Live.


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