Living Las Vegas: Vegas Summer League, Vol. IIIAlso see: Vegas: Volume I | Vegas: Volume II
By NBA TV's Rick Kamla
I know it's uncool for a dude to drop the L word about another dude, but after watching Brandon Roy drop a Vegas Summer League-high 35 points on the Suns on Wednesday, it's really the only word that does the man justice.
In a game in which Martell Webster stunk it up to the tune of 1-of-11, Roy needed every one of those points just to make the final score respectable, as the Suns beat the Blazers 91-82.
Roy hit 13 of 22 shots, six of seven from the line, and all three of his triple tries. He also added seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. And the block came on Lionel Chalmers after he beat Roy on a killer crossover move. That Roy didn't just concede the basket to Chalmers shows the depth of his competitiveness and the breadth of his basketball soul.
After dazzling the Cox Pavilion crowd with 35 big ones, Roy concluded the VSL with a scoring average of 19.0, and he is guaranteed to be named All-VSL first team.
Again, the Blazers got the better of my Timberwolves in trading Randy Foye for Roy on draft night. Imagine a starting backcourt of Mike James (yes!) and Brandon Roy at the one and two, respectively. Foye is going to be nice, but he and James are very similar players in that they are smallish combo guards who look to score before pass.
James and Roy would be tremendous complements at the one and two, but I'll settle for James and Foye, who will team with Kevin Garnett and Ricky Davis to give my Wolves four players who can give you 20 on any given night.
Roy wasn't the only Blazer rookie rockin' and rollin' in Vegas on Wednesday, as No. 2 overall pick LaMarcus Aldridge exploded for a personal VSL-high of 19 points on 8-of-12 from field and 3-for-3 from the line. He also added nine rebounds, four assists, and four blocks in 34 minutes of action.
Aldridge closed out the VSL with 13 blocks in his last four games, building on the defense he played at Texas when he averaged two blocks in becoming Big 12 defensive player of the year in 2005-06. Although I am sold on Aldridge as a solid pro for a lot of years, his All-Star appearances will pale in comparison to Roy's when all is said and done.
Amare Stoudemire didn't play in Wednesday's game because the Suns decided to give him a day off after averaging 21 points through the first three games. Unfortunately, neither Amare nor the Suns got the memo that NBA TV was broadcasting the game. With apologies to leading scorers Ruben Douglas and Adam Hess, who each had 16 points for Phoenix, they're just a little behind Amare in the Q rating department.
Like any good teacher or boss, I usually start with the positives before offering constructive criticism. However, in the case of Kirk Snyder there aren't any positives to start with.
Snyder was in and out of Byron Scott's doghouse a season ago and the Hornets' head coach called out Snyder before the VSL, demanding his third-year swingman "stand out."
Well, Snyder missed 23 of 30 shots in the first three games and he did nothing to turn his frown upside down on Wednesday afternoon.
Yeah, he made eight of nine free throws, but went 2-of-5 from the field, grabbed only two boards in 21 minutes, and got tossed from the game in the second half after picking up his second technical foul for arguing over what might have been a block by teammate Hilton Armstrong.
It was kinda sad to see Snyder melt down under the bright lights of NBA TV, and it's kinda sad to see such a promising player keep digging his own grave.
Remember, Snyder was traded from Utah to New Orleans because of problems with Jerry Sloan. Two coaches…two trips to the doghouse. Sorry, freaks, but that's much more trend than mirage.
The good news for Snyder (as long as Scott doesn't send him home early) is that he has one more chance to leave Vegas with a good taste in his mouth. I realize it's an exhibition game in Sin City, but Friday's finale against my Wolves may go down as one of the most important games of Snyder's professional career.
The story of the day for the Hornets, other than officially trading for Peja Stojakovic, was the offensive outburst by Armstrong, who scored a personal VSL-high 20 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line. Armstrong was terrific around the basket, in the post, and he even made a couple jumpers that really opened my eyes.
Armstrong came out of UConn with the reputation of being a shot blocker and rebounder, and that is indeed the case. But after watching him on Wednesday, this 6-11 big man has more offensive game than I realized.
Once again, Cavaliers' rookie Shannon Brown was terrific, if only for a half.
In scoring 11 of his 14 points in the first half, Brown had a dunk where he was literally looking into the basket before he brought the house down. His hops are off the charts and his arms dangle all the way down to his knees. Good luck making a clean pass against the Cavaliers this season, with the athleticism and length of perimeter players like LeBron James, Larry Hughes, and Brown.
Brown had several religious moments, but second-round steal Daniel Gibson (42nd overall) was fantastic as well.
In matching Brown with 14 points, Gibson hit 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line, and he just had a poise and a bounce about him that made me fully understand why GM Danny Ferry said after the draft that Gibson was "a lock to make the final roster." That's a mouthful because second-rounders are typically guaranteed a grand total of nothing entering training camp.
I can guarantee you this: The Cavs will be the first- or second-best team in the East this season.
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