Living Las Vegas: Vegas Summer League
By NBA TV's Rick Kamla
As for the NBAís resident freak, Iím out here in Sin City calling VSL games with Tim Capstraw (radio analyst for the Nets) and weíre having an uncommon blast. To wit, after calling a pair of competitive games, during which we interviewed Walt Frazier and Terry Porter, we went out to dinner with play-by-play legend Joel Meyers. Not only is Joel a longtime hero of mine, but I would eat my own pinky to have his million-dollar pipes.
Anyway, we arenít the only cats having fun in Vegas, as several young ballers are scorching the nets at the Cox Pavilion. And after one day of calling/watching the action, here are some first Ė and hopefully Ė lasting impressions ...
The talk of the 2006 Vegas Summer League isnít the fact that every Ė and I mean EVERY Ė casino has a quasi-burlesque show. The buzz at the VSL is the fact that Brandon Roy is the early favorite for ROYÖas in, rookie of the year.
I hate to say it, and I may be forced to consume these words in a few months, but my Timberwolves erred in trading Roy for Randy Foye on draft night. Foye has scored at least 20 points in all three games here in Vegas, but heís much more Ben Gordon than Dwyane Wade in that heís exclusively a scorer at this point. Donít believe me? Well, Foye is averaging 25.7 points and 0.7 assists in 33.3 minutes.
Roy, on the other hand, is averaging 15 points, 4 assists, and 2.5 rebounds in just 25 minutes through four games. But it goes beyond numbers, as Roy has a vibe, a poise, and an aura that screams star. He plays both ends with similar zeal, he shoots jumpers from all distances, drives to the hole, creates his own shot at will, posts up and he is running the point effectively when starter Marque Perry is out of the game.
Both Roy and Foye will be terrific pros, but Roy is a cut above. Simple as that.
While weíre on the subject of Portland, lemme just say that Martell Webster is going to develop into a 20-point-per-game scorer in this league. His 'J' was so wet in the first half of todayís game, the Wizards needed a blow dryer to slow him down. I now know why the Blazers took him sixth overall in the 2005 draft. Webster is averaging a team-high 18.3 points through four games.
With regards to Amare Stoudemireís rehab assignment, he is averaging 20.7 points, six rebounds, and 57 percent shooting through three games. Mondayís game was the first in which he did not score 20-plus points, and he earned a DQ with his 10th foul, but I was reassured by the fact he wasnít favoring his knees, flexing them, looking down at them, or acknowledging in any way that heís recovering from a pair of surgeries.
All that said, Amare isnít rock-star Amare just yet and I donít know when he will be. He still looked a little stiff and basically not as athletic or explosive as he was during that unbelievable 2004-05 season. But we are talking about a microfracture survivor who also required a scope on the OTHER knee in April, so letís all take a deep breath and remember that patience is a virtue.
The Cavaliers absolutely stole Michigan State guard Shannon Brown with the 25th pick. How he wasnít a lottery pick, Iíll never understand. In todayís game against the Warriors, Brown had 15 points, six assists, four rebounds, and two steals in 29 minutes. But as strong as that line is, it doesnít tell the whole story. Brown, like Roy, can play the one and two with seemingly equal effectiveness and heís a handful on the defensive end, with limitless energy to harass his opponent.
If youíre wondering why the Cavaliers arenít in the market to re-sign Flip Murray, wonder no more. And let this be a warning to veterans PGs Eric Snow and Damon Jones that Brown is coming to town and heís looking for your minutes.
Finally, Iíd be remiss if I didnít mention Houstonís John Lucas III, who electrified the crowd Ė and broadcasters Ė with his shot-making and dime-dropping. Not once or twice, but three times in the first half he drove to the hoop and went high off glass for a highlight-quality basket. He finished with 23 points and eight assists, earning Toshiba player of the day honors. Perhaps most impressive of all, he played the entire 40-minute game. Through four games, Lucas has posted point totals of 26, 25, 23, and 23.
I realize Lucas is generously listed as 5-11, but you canít underestimate the fight in the dog or the fire in the belly, and John Lucas III is flush in both regards.
During the regular season, NBA TV fantasy expert Rick Kamla writes a weekly column, Living the Fantasy, on NBA.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org