Living the Fantasy: Summer League Recap
Posted Jul 16 2007 12:17PM
LAS VEGAS, July 16, 2007 -- Over the past month the Sonics have traded one dynamic duo for another and Iím here to reassure the Sonics Nation that new GM Sam Presti knows exactly what heís doing.
Yes, Ray Allen is smack dab in the middle of a Hall of Fame career and Rashard Lewis is maxing and relaxing in Orlando, but the new combo of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green is going to brutalize the league sooner than you might think.
No, that isnít going to happen right away, and thatís actually good news because, following a 20ish win season in '07-08, the Sonics should get another top five pick in next yearís draft. But itís going to be real, real tough for that pick to measure up to KD and Green, who were taken second and fifth in this yearís draft.
I watched KD and JG (same initials as my musical hero Jerry Garcia) in Sundayís Summer League finale against the Blazers, and though Portland got the better of its Northern rival on the scoreboard, it was clear that the Sonics are hooked up for years to come. Durant and Green combined for 60 points in an utterly dominant offensive performance.
Durant is every bit as good as advertised. After shooting 9-of-37 from the field in his first two summer league games, and then taking off the third game to attend the ESPYs, Durant scored 32 against Marco Belinelli and the Warriors and then 28 against the Blazers. I was on the air calling another game when Durant was torturing the Warriors (13-of-16 from the line), but I was courtside for the last summer league game of his career.
The thing that impressed me most about Durant was his billion-dollar stroke.
Forget about his ridiculous length and smooth body language and crazy range and chemistry with his teammates Ö this dude has the effortless and consistent shooting stroke of a perennial All-Star. You could see it on three-point attempts, mid-range looks, and the free-throw line, where he bapped two in a row with under a minute to play and his team down four.
I donít know how well-rounded his game will be as a rookie, but he is going to live in the 20s from the first game of his career.
On draft night, I went on record saying Seattle should have taken Corey Brewer over Green. I wasnít mad at the Sonics for taking Green, I just thought Brewer was a little bit better. I no longer see it that way. I still love Brewer and Iíll break him down in a sec, but in scoring 32 points in every conceivable way against the Blazers, itís clear to me that Green is a far superior offensive player to Brewer.
Green knocked down threes like 15-footers, he converted a hook shot in a late-game post-up, he drove to the basket both left and right, and he had a fourth quarter dunk that was so nasty I had to run to NBA TVís broadcast position so I could see it again. He came down on the right wing and got so much lift so quickly that his face nearly crashed into the rim.
Simply put, Green is in scoring position once he crosses the time line. I also liked his playmaking mindset and skill set, as he has the vision, unselfishness, and talent to set up his teammates for easy buckets. In scoring his game-high 32, not once did he force the action.
I am officially a fan of Jeff Green, who is going to impact fantasy leagues as a rookie.
According to Sonicsí summer league assistant Mike Brown, the plan is to play Durant at the two and Green at the threeóand he was adamant about Durant playing the two despite his 6-10 frame. Per Coach Brown, heís going to back off smaller, quicker twos to try to both avoid getting beat off the dribble and take advantage of his length on close-outs. And Coach Brownís eyes lit up when he started talking about what Durant is going to be able to do on the offensive end against helpless and hopeless defenders.
Iím running out of time on my red-eye back to New Jersey, and Iím off on vacation with the wife and kids, so here are some quick vibes on other impressive summer league performers before I peace you all out:
Aaron Brooks, Rockets: Nate Robinson may have taken home summer league MVP honors, but I thought Brooks was the best lead guard in Vegas. (Sorry, but third-year players are supposed to use and abuse rookies and quasi-pros in the summer league. Iím not impressed. Nate is still a TO waiting to happen.) I blogged about Brooks earlier in the week, but I just want to hammer home how good heís going to be. Think TJ Ford with a jumper thatís dripping with butter.
Corey Brewer, Timberwolves: Green may have more offensive skills than Brewer, but the two-time NCAA champ is quite a bit better on the defensive end. Brewerís 6-9 size and cat-like quickness and competitiveness and basketball instincts combine to make him an incredibly disruptive defensive player. He is going to make several All-Defensive Teams before his days are done. But donít sleep on his handle or speed or passing ability or non-stop motor. The Wolves should thank their lucky stars that Milwaukee took Yi Jianlian at 6. What a mistake that was.
Rodney Stuckey, Pistons: Hot Rodís hero is Dwyane Wade and I now know why. Stuckey is built to last (like Wade), he gets to the rim whenever he wants (like Wade), and his jumper is wet (like Wade). I like Al Thornton a lot, but the Clippers are going to regret passing on Stuckey, who would have been their PG of the future.
Dominic McGuire, Wizards: Last year the Jazz were stealing when they nabbed Paul Millsap with the 47th pick and this year the Wizards were stealing when they plucked McGuire at the same spot. Simply put, heís a poor manís Caron Butler with jaw-dropping shot-blocking skills.
Glen Davis, Celtics: Dude still needs to reshape his 290-pound physique because I doubt that body type will last for 10-15 years in the league, but Big Baby can play. He has a feathery touch on jumpers from 15-18 feet, heís obviously a rebounding machine, his high basketball IQ leads to sweet passes, and he had at least six blocks in a game against the Bucks. Davis should not have fallen out of the first round.
Have a great summer, freaks, and Iíll see you down the road. Peace>>>