Reviewing the 2006 Vegas Summer League
Posted Jul 17 2006 4:27PM
by John Schuhmann
The Comparisons Start Now
Brandon Roy was drafted at No. 6 by the Timberwolves. Randy Foye was drafted at No. 7 by the Celtics. After Boston shipped Foye to Portland, the two were dealt for each other straight up. For this reason (the fact that their names rhyme doesn't hurt either), fans in Minnesota will always keep an eye on Roy, while fans in Portland will be keeping tabs on Foye. And everyone around the league will be comparing the two for years to come.
Our first chance to do that came less than two weeks after the draft, as both were on hand in Vegas. Neither disappointed, as both were the stars of their team and showed great promise.
Foye took league MVP honors, averaging 24.8 points on .530 shooting in five games, while bringing tears to the eyes of Minnesota homer and NBA TV's Rick Kamla. Foye was virtually unstoppable, showing "star-like quality" according to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and getting to the hole whenever he wanted. He got to the line almost eight times per game and while he was the league's leading scorer, he attempted just eight shots from beyond the arc.
Brandon Roy was no slouch either, averaging 19.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting .647 from the field in five games. According to Kamla, Roy "has a vibe, a poise, and an aura that screams star." Kamla's broadcast partner in Vegas, Tim Capstraw agrees.
"He's really smooth and he has a real comfort level when he plays," Capstraw told us. "He always seems to be under control. He's an outstanding talent."
So who's better? Foye or Roy? That question can't be answered just yet, but Capstraw gave us his assessment of what he saw in Vegas.
"Both were excellent," he said, "but Brandon Roy may be just a step ahead."
Signs of Promise from No. 1
He was inconsistent, but Andrea Bargnani did show us a glimpse of why the Raptors selected him with the No. 1 pick in the draft. In his first game, Bargnani scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-5 from downtown. DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony said he had an "excellent first step," a "lightning quick jumper" and excellent passing skills.
In his fourth game, Bargnani scored 21 points and grabbed 11 boards against fellow lottery pick, Patrick O'Bryant and the Warriors. Overall, the No. 1 pick averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 boards while shooting .467 from the floor and making six of his 17 attempts from beyond the arc. Capstraw liked what he saw.
"I like his ability to shoot the ball, but he's not just a shooter," he told us. "He can drive effectively to his right and to his left. He showed some back-to-the-basket moves and he showed some effort on the defensive side."
He's probably not going to set the league on fire like a Chris Paul or LeBron James, but Bargnani has a skillset that can make him a quality player in this league ... and not just "somewhere down the line."
"Bargnani is a good, good player ... a unique player," Capstraw said. "If Colangelo brings those Phoenix Suns attributes to Toronto and they really utilize his skills, he could be a very valuable player right from the get-go."
It was the first steps on his journey back to where he was. Amare Stoudemire isn't there yet, but he's much closer than where he was when he tried to come back to the Suns last March. At that point, he played three games before he shut it down again. Capstraw saw him then and he noticed a huge difference in Vegas.
"The improvement from March to now was significant," he told us. "It was much farther than what he needs to do now to get ready for the season."
And Amare didn't treat the VSL as a one-man show.
"He was playing like a terrific teammate, Capstraw said. "He was looking to pass the ball. He wasn't trying to dominate. He was just trying to get his work in and it was impressive to watch."
Celtics On the Go
The new look Celtics are looking to run. They traded for Sebastian Telfair and drafted Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo. They debuted their new fast-paced philosophy in Vegas with several players who will be on their roster in the fall, including third-year forward Al Jefferson, sophomores Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes, and undrafted rookie, Allan Ray.
GMs around the league may someday look at not drafting Ray as a big mistake. In fact, that day may already be here as he averaged 14.4 points on .518 shooting in five games in the VSL, including a 26-point outburst against the Pistons on the final day of competition. Kamla said that "he has the look of a solid bench player in the NBA for years to come" and the MetroWest Daily News said he "can shoot, run the floor and was the team's only legitimate perimeter threat when [Gerald] Green wasn't on the court."
When Green was on the court, however, he was the man. The second-year swingman started a little slow, but caught fire in the final three games, averaging 23.0 points on .532 shooting against the Raptors, Nuggets and Pistons. In the Denver game, Green hit six of his seven attempts from downtown. Combine his shooting skills with his unparalleled athleticism and you have quite a combo and his performance in the VSL may be a great way to start a stellar sophomore campaign.
"He has all the talent in the world," Capstraw said. "Sometimes, you just really need that to feel good about yourself in the summer and he has every right to think that he can really make a big step this year with the Celtics."
Earning a Second Chance
In addition to Amare and the rookies, there were several veterans in Las Vegas who were looking to earn a spot on an NBA roster. The one that stood out the most was John Lucas, who played 13 games for the Rockets last season, but spent most of the year in the D-League. Lucas averaged 23.4 points, 7.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game for the Rockets squad in Vegas, earning himself First Team All-TVSL honors (the only undrafted player on the list) along the way.
"The Rockets were playing through him all the time," Captraw said. "He's a good player who's probably on the cusp of making a team. He can provide a lot of energy, scoring and passing."