Jake's Take - 7/19/2010
Sustaining My Sanity Through the Summer
Hi. My name is Jake, and I have an addiction.
That addiction is basketball, and without it, I am but a shell of my normal self. The withdrawals are debilitating. The cold sweats, the shaking, the night terrors, it's all horribly awful. If I don't get my fix, I jolt up in the middle of the night screaming things like "box out," "swing the ball" and "that's a bleepy call ref." My wife can attest to this. I'm like the woman at the end of "Paranormal Activity." It's not a pretty sight, and certainly not for the faint of heart.
CLICK 'N ROLL:
That is why I can't live without Summer League basketball in July. It seems to delay the inevitability of August, which is when things start getting really ugly. Summer League ends, free agency dries up and training camp is still a couple of months away. It's a dark time for me. But at least I can still enjoy most of July. Summer League basketball isn't the prettiest brand of basketball one will ever see, but it gives me a chance to see the next generation of Bucks, as well as a few other prospects. Now, it's time to review some of the performers that caught my eye and helped me maintain my soon-to-be fleeting sanity.
I could gush about what Sanders did right for the next 1500 words, but I'm going to try and keep this report as concise as possible. I came into this week expecting Sanders to rebound, block shots and get some garbage baskets. This week ended with Sanders doing all of that and much more. I had no idea he had that kind of versatility on the offensive end. He went left, he went right. He shot fade-aways, he shot hooks, he shot three-pointers. He didn't do any of this at a high percentage, but he looked good doing it.
He was even better on the defensive end. The official stats will say 3.2 blocks per game, but that number could've easily been between four and five if not for some questionable officiating. It wasn't just the blocks either. Sanders got his hands on a lot of balls and showed the ability to show and recover on pick-and-rolls. I was probably impressed most with his game-tying shot at the end of regulation against Memphis. Not simply because he made an off-balance three-pointer, but because of the awareness he showed on the play. He knew how much time was on clock and how many points the team was down, and he did what was necessary to extend the game.
His only faults this week were his rebounding and the speed at which he played on offense. His rebounding numbers were solid at more than eight per contest, but I think he could've been a little more aggressive on the glass at both ends. On offense, Sanders occasionally went too quickly when he should've just let the game come to him. To his credit, Sanders greatly improved in that regard after recovering from the first-game jitters.
Washington is similar to Sanders in that he completely surprised me with his game. He came into Summer League with the reputation as a high-flyer with little else in his offensive repertoire. While he certainly lived up to the high-flyer reputation with numerous highlight-reel dunks, he also showed a deft touch from long range. Washington rarely touched the rim in shooting 8-of-16 from three-point range for the week, and showed a decent midrange game as well. Washington was a very pleasant surprise and I think he earned himself an invitation to a training camp somewhere.
Jackson only played the first two games of Summer League, but I think the Bucks saw more than enough in the first game. The Bucks knew what they had in Jackson, and his 17-point, 7-rebound performance in the opener pretty much confirmed it. First of all, Jackson is an absolute house. He fouled Dallas' Amara Sy and I didn't think Sy would ever recover. It was like a receiver going over the middle and getting decleated by Ray Lewis. Second, he showed off a pretty effective offensive game. He didn't do anything eye-popping, but he connected from 15 feet and scored down low when the opportunity arose. Every team needs a Rick Mahorn, enforcer-type player; a guy that can floor any guards who think they belong in the paint. Jackson may just be that kind of player.
I wasn't really sold on Williams until the fifth and final game of Summer League when he scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. He didn't really bring anything that I expected him to bring, primarily because he only blocked two shots all week. But he did bring some things I wasn't expecting him to bring. Most of his NBA points have come from dunks and layups, but he showed nice touch on his midrange jumper during Summer League. What hurt him was some real sloppy play when he had the ball in his hands. Williams averaged nearly seven turnovers per 40 minutes, including some of the week's more head-scratching plays.
Gallon's talent is easily apparent; it just needs more time to grow. The form on his jump shot is great for a guy his size, or any size for that matter, but that seems to deter him from spending time down low. He showed the ability to score in the post, but too often settled for jumpers. Gallon was also the team's best per-minute rebounder, pulling down more than 15 rebounds per 40 minutes. He showed solid fundamentals on the glass, boxing out and then flaring those elbows high and wide to keep pesky guards away.
Yue may have only played in two games for the Bucks, but I thought he was the best guard on the roster in those contests. The Milwaukee offense struggled throughout much of Summer League because of the inability of the guards to make plays. Yue came on board and immediately started making plays, displaying court vision that wasn't seen the first three games. I love the fact that he's a 6-foot-7 point guard. I've been jonesing for a taller point guard to come in and back up