Living Las Vegas: Vegas Summer League, Vol. II
By NBA TV's Rick Kamla
What I got was domination from the Celtics not unlike Bill Russell’s teams that won 11 titles in 13 years. They whipped the Raptors by 49 points (111-62) behind 23 from Gerald Green and 22 from Ryan Gomes. I asked Gomes after the game if it felt good to shred a team like that, and he smiled proudly while saying, “Yeah.”
But Green and Gomes weren’t the driving forces for the Celtics. It was Sebastian Telfair, acquired on draft day, who set the tone and kept the pedal to the metal for 27 minutes. He didn’t shoot well (1-of-6), but made all six free throws and, more importantly, dropped 10 killer dimes, including the play of the VSL when he went between his legs to Green for an aerial assault that sent an electric charge through the Cox Pavilion.
He made flashy plays, but not that many, and they were within the context of the game. For instance, it’s cool to go between your legs when you’re up 30-something points in the second half of an exhibition in Las Vegas – the entertainment capital of the world. But I didn’t see the out-of-control drives to the hoop I saw last year with Portland, and you gotta believe former Coach of the Year Doc Rivers has already helped in that regard.
By the way, at the risk of name-dropping, I just wanna tell you how cool it was to have Doc on the mic with us for most of the third quarter. Yes, he was as cool as you think he would be. It’s basically a blow to the broadcast world when he’s coaching.
Doc was telling Tim Capstraw and me that because the Celtics are smallish and quick, they are going to play a 94-foot game, including consistent full-court defense and half-court traps, and plenty of fast breaks. As Tim said, the operative word is “disruptive” when talking about their style of play.
All I know is that Telfair pushing the pace and passing the rock will create more offensive freedom for Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak – if he plays with consistency and vigilance in the regular season.
Andrea Bargnani hit his first basket at the VSL, but his play has tailed ever since. He finished game one with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, which was mighty impressive, but he regressed with 12 points and 10 fouls (DQ) in game two, and then today he slumped to 10 points on 2-of-7 with seven fouls.
However, Bargnani did show the ability to take advantage of his height mismatch against smaller perimeter players by making a crisp pass to a cutting teammate. Twice in the second half that play worked to perfection with the determined Joey Graham finishing. Bargnani also went left with surprising confidence, but he was a little lost in the frenetic, up-tempo game the Celtics wanted to play.
You know who looked really good today?
Patrick O’Bryant, ninth overall pick to the Warriors. Dude looked like a fluid and formidable big man in posting 15 points on 5-of-9 from the field and 5-of-5 at the line with eight boards and two blocks in 19 minutes.
Yes, he did it against Eric Chenowith and Alain Koffi, but he has all the big-man fundamentals down, has nice touch going either direction, and in watching him for two straights days I’m sold that O’Bryant could become a double-double center in this league.
Will Bynum, who’s built like a running back, was the Warriors’ best player in the 104-88 loss to the Nuggets. For those who also know football, Will is the spitting image of former Steelers running back Amos Zereoue. He went 7-for-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line en route to 19 exhilarating points. Bynum played 15 games with the Warriors last year after winning D-League rookie of the year, and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t on someone’s 15-man roster to start the season. Shocked.
Finally, I saw the future and his name is Kelenna Azubuike. Yes, I’m kidding … in a big, big way. But the product of Kentucky did a little bit of everything in scoring 25 points on 6-of-9 from the field and 13-of-17 at the line. He’s 6-5, well built and athletic. He’s definitely a promising NBA prospect. I can’t call him a pro yet because I’ve seen him only once, but I can say without hesitation that the dude would make mega money overseas.
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