Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015-16 Crystal Ball

The NBA season is here! Rejoice!

So who wins it all? I like the Golden State Warriors to repeat as NBA Champions. Their depth, and ability to defend combined with Stephen Curry, the reigning Most Valuable Player, make the Warriors my choice in a quick series facing Eastern Conference champs, the Atlanta Hawks. 

Say what? The Atlanta Hawks? 

Yes. The Atlanta Hawks. Jeff Teague continues to improve, and his backup Dennis Schroder could start for several NBA teams. Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford are all top-tier players at their respective positions. The addition of Tiago Splitter and the subtraction of Pero Antic makes the Hawks significantly better when Millsap and Horford are out of the game. To top it off, I like their coach Mike Budenholzer. 

Why not Cleveland? It will be close and it could very well be the Cavs representing the East. I just happen to give the edge to Atlanta. Last season the Hawks were 3-5 against the Cavs. Is it really such a stretch to see them improve by a game or two? We think not. 

New and Improved?

The Boston Celtics look to be improved this season. Already one of the deepest teams in the NBA, the C's added David Lee and Amir Johnson to their front court rotation. Coach Brad Stevens is a guy we believe in as both a communicator and as a 'basketball mind'. 
The Miami Heat should return to being a 50-plus-win team this season thanks to a healthy Chris Bosh, and a full season of Goran Dragic running the point. Gerald Green scoring off the bench, and a full season of Hassan Whiteside manning the paint will help too.

Who will win 2015-16 MVP?

We will go with James Harden, the most productive player in the game that is also efficient. However, the MVP race should be very close. Curry, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Anthony Davis all figure to challenge Harden.

If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be? 
Anthony Davis. He is just now 22 years old. Had he been a four-year college player, this would be his rookie NBA season. 

Freaky deeky!
Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2015-16?
We like three players in this category but Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the way, with Meyers Leonard and Reggie Jackson deserving consideration. 

Which team made the best overall moves this offseason? 
San Antonio with the additions of LaMarcus Aldridge, and David West. 

Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact? 
LaMarcus Aldridge in a Spurs uniform. 

What was the most underrated player acquisition? 
Jeremy Lamb has a chance to flourish in Charlotte  if he receives the playing time. Ty Lawson will make the Rockets better offensively. But the most underrated addition in our opinion is Cleveland adding Mo Williams. He is a major efficiency upgrade from non-scorer, Matthew Dellevadova. LeBron James will enjoy having a shot maker, in Williams, as a teammate. 

Who will win Rookie of the Year?
Karl Anthony Towns is our pick but we think Stanley Johnson, and Myles Turner will make some noise in this race. Towns is a BIG that has the finesse to shoot 81% from the free-throw line. He is still learning to play in the low post but he is accurate and focused with his touch near the basket. He provides a paint presence that any NBA team could use. 

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft? 
Rondae Hollis Jefferson slipped to being the 23rd selection. We like his ability to defend and finish in transition.  He is an unquestioned NBA athlete that probably should have been picked in the top dozen. 


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 Summer League Stat Audit and Thoughts

Let's Just Be Honest. Let's Just Be Real. 

What you are about to read, a recap of the 2015 NBA Summer League, should be rooted in the knowledge that we take what we do here very seriously. Because we have no direct affiliation with any NBA team, scouting agency, or the league itself, we are free to praise or criticize without any "spin". Consider this an insider's guide into what one obsessive "basketball scout" is thinking. 

An outstanding performance in NBA Summer League is not a guarantee of future success in the NBA. This we know from experience. We have been involved in professional summer basketball since the late 1980's when we kept stats for the Sacramento Kings Pro-Am. 

The problem with putting too much stock in play during July is that the sample size is simply too small. Mass-media coverage of summer league confuses the casual basketball fan by using as much as ONE single play to proclaim a player's success or lack thereof.  Major TV networks will pick out the highest draft picks, show you their highlights and regularly bypass the players who actually were difference makers in the games. Our mission is to educate ourselves with you along for the read.

This summer, as we do each summer, we traveled to Las Vegas to watch games first-hand.
We observed and took notes (either in person, or by viewing the games on NBA-TV). We then took the time, after all play was concluded, to analyze the numbers from the 335 players that logged at least 40 minutes of playing time across the three NBA Summer Leagues (Orlando, Utah, and Las Vegas). 

It should be noted it is physically impossible to watch ALL the games live, as two are played at the same time in two separate gyms in Las Vegas. It should always be remembered that just because YOU did not see it, does not mean it did not happen. 

We like to, in all instances, back-up what we saw with our eyes, with an obsessive shot of data. Even if the sample size is small. It is only by being "data informed" (as Len Elmore would say) COMBINED with our "feel" for the player that we then can begin to make conclusions. This process, repeated, year after year, gives us a clarity in our thoughts and evaluations.  

We have seen almost all of these players before, either in NCAA play (we watched and took notes on 82 games in 2014-15), the D-League (we annually attend and scout the D-League Showcase), or in the NBA (countless games). Over time, through years of consistent observation of multiple leagues, and levels of play, it becomes easier to pick out players that seem to have a shot at NBA success going forward. 

While Summer League lends the opportunity for yet another look at players, it should always be kept in perspective. Players are not going through the grind of an 82-game season. The entire Las Vegas competitive period lasts just eleven days. For most teams it was over in eight days. That said, ANY chance to further your "feel" for a player should be welcomed. It is hard to ignore the shifts in opinion that a scout may have based on intently watching a player play for even as little as 150 minutes. 

Slo-Mo = basketball player. 
So who played well?

The San Antonio Spurs won the Las Vegas Summer League Championship. The most efficient player on their team was Kyle Anderson, the second year pro from UCLA. Honestly, Anderson's play was not that spectacular statistically speaking. The Spurs won games with a team approach and although Anderson was their most efficient baller, his numbers were not jaw-dropping. He still is a bit of a mystery from a traditional NBA positional standpoint. Is he a point guard (as he was as a Bruin)? Or is he a small-forward you can run your offense through? The answer is cloudy. Anderson actually had more turnovers than assists this Summer (across both the Utah and Las Vegas Summer Leagues). His three-point shooting was suspect too (4-17 3-pt fg, 23%). Where "Slo-Mo" shined was in his ability to get to the free throw line with consistency, rebound the ball, and make defensive plays with his combination of great anticipation and length. 

I'm still not sure what Anderson's NBA position is. For now, that seems irrelevant. He is a versatile guy you just throw out there as one of your five. He made Becky Hammon's team better each time he was on the floor. (Read what we said about Anderson prior to the 2014 NBA Draft)

(For what it's worth, we don't evaluate coaches the way we do individual players. Although I certainly have my opinions about coaches and their personalities, substitution patterns, etc..., the focus of what we enjoy doing is evaluating players. So while Becky Hammon's history making championship win was a BIG story in Las Vegas, that simply is not what THIS blog is about.)

The most efficient player overall in Las Vegas was Phoenix Suns big-man Josh Harrellson. The deep-shooting, 6'10", former Kentucky Wildcat was a second round pick (45th overall) in the 2011 NBA Draft. This summer Harrellson shot 42% from beyond the arc (11 for 26) and helped lead the Suns to the title game in Vegas. Harrellson spent the 2014-15 season playing professionally in Puerto Rico, and in China. 

Dentmon is NBA ready.
At a glance, here are the summer league players that we felt shined brightest this July...

Our Hoop Obsession Las Vegas All-Summer-League Teams: 

First Team: Justin Dentmon - D League Select, Seth Curry - New Orleans, Jonathan Homes - Boston, Alan Williams - Houston, Josh Harrellson - Phoenix. 

Second Team: Erick Green - Denver, Bryce DeJean-Jones - New Orleans, D.J. Kennedy - Houston, Shawn Jones - Washington, Lucas Nogueira - Toronto. 

Third Team: Mike James - Phoenix, Norman Powell - Toronto, Kevon Looney - Golden State, Noah Vonleh - Portland, Jarrid Famous - Washington. 
24 teams participated in Las Vegas.
The Hoop Obsession ORLANDO All Summer League Teams: 

First Team: Russ Smith - Memphis, Stanley Johnson - Detroit, Aaron Gordon - Orlando (Blue), Branden Dawson - Clippers, Myles Turner - Indiana. 

Second Team: Keith Appling - Orlando (White), Tyler Harvey - Orlando (Blue), Greg Whittington - Miami, Mitch McGary - Oklahoma City, Keith Benson - Orlando (White). 
Ten teams participated in Orlando.

The Hoop Obsession UTAH All Summer League Team:

Marcus Smart - Boston, Jonathan Simmons - San Antonio, Jonathan Holmes - Boston, JaJuan Johnson - Utah, Jordan Mickey - Boston. Only four teams participated in Utah. 

Opinion shifts

So how did OUR opinion shift? Below are thoughts on players and how we changed our mind a bit on certain aspects of their game. 

G-Whitt opened eyes
Prior to July 4th (the date that 2015 NBA Summer League started in Orlando), I had no thoughts that Greg Whittington (6'8" forward from Georgetown) could possibly be an NBA player some day. His shot is too inconsistent, and he just isn't dynamic enough, I thought. However, after seeing the havoc Whittington wreaks on defense, I now think he has a chance. Whittington was absent from the hoop scene for two full seasons. He was dismissed from the Hoyas program after the 2012-13 season. He then suffered a torn ACL. Now, balling on a stage for the first time in two years, Whittington showed the kind of defensive range on the wing that few possess. He shot some bad air-balls in Orlando that left me scratching my head over his shot-selection. But he also had 18 assists, and only 11 turnovers and he shot 39% from 3-pt. range overall. Suffice it to say, Greg Whittington is now on our radar and he should be on the radar of all NBA teams too. 

Likewise, I wouldn't have given you a dime for the services of Chris Singleton prior to his performance this summer in Orlando. However, I saw a different player that actually may have realized he is not going to get minutes for his offense. In our opinion, Singleton (the 18th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft) has long been held down by his own over-appreciation of his shooting stroke. This summer, Singleton showed a shot-selection that finally looked mature, recognizing the limitations of his inconsistent perimeter shooting. Instead of jacking threes at a ridiculous rate, Singleton passed up shots, and moved the ball. He has always been an ELITE defender. He showed enough of the "new Chris Singleton" to make me think he deserves a long look. 
Marcus Smart is a player that I hope learns to turn down some shots in favor of moving the ball. It can be maddening to see Smart dominate a game in several facets yet hurt his team by jacking up ill-advised three point shots. Smart's defense is smothering. His court-vision is nice. He helps as a rebounder. If he would take less three point shots I think he would become a much better contributor to Celtics success. 

Jonathan Holmes, a four-year college player out of Texas that went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, played very well for the Boston Celtics. He is a more natural power forward than he is a wing but he also showed that with reps his stroke may become consistent enough for him to play some small forward. 

Robinson no longer a puppy
Glenn Robinson III looked to be in terrific physical condition. He has really strengthened his body. He is still an undeniable NBA athlete, and although things have not clicked for him yet after college, we think there are reasons to believe in him going forward. The Indiana Pacers apparently agree as they signed him within the last week to a multi-year deal. Robinson was a rookie in 2014-15. He played in 35 NBA games between the Wolves and Sixers.

Solomon Hill was so out of shape in Orlando that I actually did a double-take upon first seeing him. He proceeded to post a per-minute efficiency rating of .037 which ranked 330th out of 335. ...Hill has NBA money. He has resources to hire a personal trainer, chef, and dietitian with the quickness (if he has not already done so) or we fear his NBA career is in jeopardy.

Josh Richardson, the Heat's second round pick from Tennessee impressed with his defensive ability. Richardson showed the ability to block jump shots one-on-one. His length and recovery time is extraordinary.

Mike Moser, a player we had trumpeted before, looked like he was not in great shape. Thus, he lost traction in our eyes. 

Keith Appling gained an "uptick" in our mind with his solid point guard play. Appling (Michigan State) spent last season in the D-League with the L.A. Defenders, and Erie Bayhawks. 

Shawn Jones, who went undrafted in 2014 out of Middle Tennessee State, is now a player we are keenly aware of. The 6'8", 235 lb power forward caught our eye in the D-League last season as a member of the Sioux Falls Sky Force. Jones performed well this summer for the Washington Wizards. 

Denver's Gilvydas Biruta impressed us with his attention to detail and hustle game. The 6'8", 238 lb. forward was a noted player at Rhode Island but we had no idea his overall game was as sharp as it is. 

Our train of thought regarding Jordan Clarkson, property of the Lakers, was that he was a nice prospect who showed some flashes in the second half of his rookie 2014-15 season. After seeing him again live, we have upgraded our train of thought to "this is a kid that has STAR potential." His ball-handling ability is better than I previously believed it to be. His decision making will likely be the area that challenges him most. He actually had one more turnover than assist this summer. 

Reed signed a deal with Brooklyn.

Seeing a player perform well again can further affirm our belief that a certain player is now ready for the NBA. Willie Reed is one of those guys for sure. Reed was one of the best BIGs in the D-League and he did nothing to hurt his reputation as a player right on the cusp of an NBA breakthrough. Reed shot 57% FG this summer and he owned the boards, playing for Miami in Orlando, and for the Brooklyn Nets in Las Vegas. The Nets signed him to a one-year contract so Reed will have ample opportunity to prove he belongs in the Association. 

We were high on Alan Williams' game coming out of U.C. Santa Barbara (see our pre-draft notes). He went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft but was picked up by the Houston Rockets for the summer. Williams did not disappoint. He posted the sixth highest efficiency per-minute of the 335 players who played at least 40 minutes. 

Norman Powell (UCLA, Toronto Raptors) is quickly becoming a favorite of ours due to his combination of guard skills, athleticism, and power. He was the 46th player taken in the 2015 NBA Draft (We ranked him 43rd). 

D.J. Kennedy has been on the cusp of a NBA job. You can add us to the list of folks who believe he is ready. Kennedy went undrafted in 2011 out of St. John's. He played in two games with the Cleveland Cavs in 2011-12. Kennedy, 6'6" 215 lbs, played in the German BBL last season. 

Diante Garrett played for the Clippers in Orlando, and the Bulls in Las Vegas. The 26 year-old point guard has impressed as a backup that is right on the verge of being an NBA player again. Garrett was last seen in the league in 2013-14 with the Utah Jazz. 

How did the lottery picks play this summer?

Karl Anthony Towns - Minnesota. ...Towns was nothing special at all in his 156 minutes. He shot 39% FG, and missed all five of his three point attempts. He showed a better ability to pass the ball out of double teams than we previously had seen but he certainly did not set the league on fire with his play. In fact, he ranked just 157th of 335 in efficiency per-minute. That being said, we are not worried about Karl-Anthony Towns.

D'Angelo Russell - Lakers. ...As a whole, Russell was terrible. He shot 37% FG, and was 2 of 17 from the three-point line. He had 16 total assists and a whopping 26 turnovers in 150 minutes. Russell was "pressing", it seemed clear to us. He did show some of the court-vision he is known for but mostly he looked like a kid playing with grown men for the first time. Russell was 281st of 335 in efficiency per minute this summer. ...Expectations will be high for Russell so we hope that the Lakers and coach Byron Scott bring him along very slowly and make strong, clear, statements early to the Lakers fans that Russell needs seasoning. 

Jahlil Okafor - Philadelphia. ...The post moves were nice but truthfully Okafor did not play that well either. He had more than three turnovers for every one assist, and he shot 40% from the free throw line. Okafor finished ranked 227th out of 335 players in efficiency per minute. Okafor did do a better job defensively in our opinion than his reputation stated.

Porzingis was not bad
Kristaps Porzingis - New York. ...Knicks fans had to be at least somewhat pleased with Porzingis' play. He needs to gain strength but his skilled game translated fairly well in just 82 minutes total. He was 66th of 335 in per-minute efficiency, and he also fared well in defensive rating. 

Mario Hezonja - Orlando. ...Hezonja played all of 49 minutes. He shot the ball poorly (4-14 3-pt. fg, 28%) but did have at least one spectacular dunk (you can see the dunk in link at end of this blog). 

Willie Cauley-Stein - Sacramento. ...Cauley-Stein played well. He ranked 27th out of 335 in per-minute efficiency. His ability to run the floor and finish was on full display. He moves exceptionally well as defender against the pick-n-roll. Our only criticism was that WCS dropped passes that a player with "great hands" would have handled. We heard lots of hype about how Cauley-Stein was a high school wide receiver and perhaps we expected more than we saw. Nevertheless, Cauley-Stein was the summer-Kings most efficient player and he should give Kings fans hope as a prospect. 

Emmanuel Mudiay - Denver. ...If you watched NBA-TV highlights or just caught a summer league recap on ESPN you may have thought that Mudiay was tremendous this summer. However, that is not what we saw. We watched from three rows up as Mudiay took plays off and struggled in a loss to Atlanta. True, he did do some things you do not often see from such a young point guard prospect but overall he was wildly inconsistent. He shot 38% FG, and made just 2 of 14 three point attempts. He had 23 assists but 20 turnovers. 

Stanley was superb!
Stanley Johnson - Detroit. ...Johnson was terrific in the Orlando Summer League. He shot 57% FG, and 47% 3-pt. He finished July with the 11th best efficiency per minute. Johnson, in the 137 minutes he logged this summer, looked to be a better offensive player than he was able to show in the structure of Arizona's offense. 

Frank Kaminsky - Charlotte. ...Kaminsky logged 153 minutes and although nothing special, he did rank in the top-third of all players in per-minute efficiency. Kaminsky also was solid defensively, posting a 91.5 defensive rating. 

Justise Winslow - Miami ...Disappointing is the word that comes to mind. Winslow looked at times like a player that just could not find a way to have any impact on a game. Most surprisingly, his defense was awful (105.9 DEFRTG). Offensively, Winslow was not much better, ranking 266th of 335 in efficiency per minute. 

Myles Turner - Indiana. ...By far, the best and most efficient player across the three summer leagues was Myles Turner. He ranked first in per-minute efficiency with a .871 EFR. Turner showed his unique skill-set for a BIG, with the ability to step out and hit face up jump shots. However, Turner is far from just being a "softy-cone" that drifts on the perimeter. He showed quick reactions as a help defender. He set effective wide screens. ...Yes, the sample was small (just 87 minutes), but if I'm a Indiana Pacers fan, I'm doing back-flips with excitement about the eleventh pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. 

Trey Lyles - Utah. ...Lyles was awful in over 150 minutes of play in the Utah Summer League. He shot just 31% FG, Lyles ranked 241st in per-minute efficiency. 

Devin Booker - Phoenix. ...Booker was solid. He already looks like he has shed some of the "baby-fat" he was carrying as a Kentucky freshman. Playing in Las Vegas, Booker hit 40% of his three-point attempts. More importantly he just looked like a seasoned pro. 

Cameron Payne - Oklahoma City. ...Payne did not play due to injury.  


A quick word about the defensive rating statistic and a good way to visualize how good a defender is with a quick glance at their "DEFRTG". ...Think of an FM radio "dial". The FM band starts at 87.5 and ends at 107.9. In the case of defensive rating, the lower the number, the better. A "college radio station" DEFRTG is really good, while a higher number is exactly the opposite. Defensive rating is actually the number of points an individual player allows per 100 team possessions. 

The best five in defensive rating (Las Vegas only) by position...

Point Guards: Delon Wright - Toronto 80.7, Aaron Craft - Golden State 88.5, Shannon Scott - San Antonio 90.5, Jerian Grant - New York 90.8, Langston Galloway - New York 91.1

Two Guards: Dominique Sutton - Golden State 82.2, Norman Powell - Toronto 85.4, Lamar Patterson - Atlanta 90.2, Terran Petteway - Atlanta 91.1, Ricky Ledo - New York 91.3

Small Forwards: James Michael-McAdoo - Golden State 83.2, Kevon Looney - Golden State 87.5, Brandon Ashley - Atlanta 89.9, Cleanthony Early - New York 92.4, LaDontae Henton - Golden State 92.4

Power Forwards: Cameron Bairstow - Toronto 85.5, Eric Moreland - Sacramento 85.9, Ronald Roberts - Toronto 86.4, Bruno Caboclo - Toronto 88.3, Maurice Ndour - New York 88.4

Centers: Lucas Nogueira - Toronto 77.8, Jordan Bachynski - Toronto 80.5, Kristaps Porzingis 86.5, Walter Tavares - Atlanta 86.6, Mike Muscala - Atlanta 86.6 

The All-Ole' Team, (The summer Milwaukee Bucks)

The Milwaukee Bucks Las Vegas summer team was awful, finishing with one win and six losses. Look no further than the defensive rating stat to see why the Bucks failed. Their team owned four of the five worst individual DEFRTG's. ...Here is the list of the five worst defensive ratings among players who played at least 80 minutes: 
Jerome Randle - Milwaukee 116.6, Kevin Jones - Milwaukee 112.6, Rashad Vaughn - Milwaukee 111, Sean Kilpatrick - Milwaukee 109.5, Tyler Kalinoski - Miami 107.8.

Russ Smith is a winner.
Clutch Play

Perhaps the best game of the summer took place in Orlando on July 10th. The Memphis Grizzlies beat the Magic's Blue squad 73-71 in double overtime behind Russ Smith. "Russdiculous" was great, running the show for the summer version of the Grizzlies. He averaged 14 points and six assists per game while leading Memphis to the Orlando Summer League title. Smith actually hit two sudden-death game winning shots in five games. (See video highlights here.)
Per-Minute achievement 

One way to look at building a team is to departmentalize certain abilities. A shooting guard, for instance, should be a guy that puts points on the board. So who were the top players in points per minute this summer? Joe Young, the 43rd pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, led all summer league players by scoring 90 points in just 113 minutes. The rest of the top-five in points per minute: Seth Curry (146 points in 198 mins.), Shabazz Napier (68 points in 92 mins.), Norman Powell (73 points in 102 mins.), and Justin Dentmon (85 points in 122 mins.). 

A point guard should have a good assist-to-turnover ratio. Erick Green of the Denver Nuggets had 20 assists and only TWO turnovers in 120 minutes! That's a 10-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. ...The next best in that department this summer included two Celtics players who are not point guards: James Young - Boston 5-to-1, Kevin Pangos - Dallas 4-to-1, Mickey McConnell  - Phoenix 3.4-to-1, C.J. Fair - Boston 3.33-to-1. 

Daniels can stroke it!

Floor stretchers allow BIGs to play closer to the hoop for rebounding purposes. The top-five three-point shooting percentages for players with at least 18 attempts: Justin Dentmon 18-33 (54%), Troy Daniels (12 of 22, 54%), Ian Clark 12 of 24, 50%), Tyler Harvey (11 of 22, 50%), Bryce DeJean-Jones (9 of 18, 50%). 

Speaking of rebounding, who owned the glass this summer? Here are the top rebound per-minute rates: Furkan Aldemir - Philly (40 rebs. in 89 mins.), Lucas Nogueira - Toronto (53 rebs. in 199 mins.), Alex Len - Phoenix (49 rebs. in 122 mins.), Ronald Roberts - Toronto (38 rebs. in 95 mins.), and Branden Dawson (41 rebs. in 102 mins.). 

Rim protectors are always at a premium. The top-five in blocked shots per minute this summer included: Myles Turner - Indiana (13 blks. in 87 mins.), Walter Tavares - Atlanta (17 blks. in 123 mins.), Jordan Bachynski - Toronto (11 blks in 80 mins.), Michael Eric - Milwaukee (19 blks. in 140 mins.), and Willie Cauley-Stein - Sacramento (14 blocks in 113 mins.). 

Q: Why look at numbers at all? 
A: The mind plays tricks

When any human being watches another human being perform, all kinds of judgments are being made. For instance, while attending a music festival, two guitar players may play the exact same chord but perhaps one flails his hand while squinting his eyes after the strum. The TRUE sonic result is the same as the other guitar player who keeps his eyes wide open, and hand-flailing to a minimum. A music critic might praise guitar-hero number one for the showmanship and flair, while it seems likely that guitar player number two might not earn a mention in the concert review. 

The same thing happens in basketball. Too many scouts get lost in the flair a player may have. This is why we end up with Jan Vesely (a noted high-riser dunker) being drafted sixth in 2011. Kawhi Leonard fell to the 15th selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. If Kawhi was a more demonstrative kid with a dash of flair, do you think so many teams would have passed on him? 

Hood was great in limited action
They did well with the minutes they were given... 

For any number of reasons be it an injury or just not being in the favor of a coaching staff, some guys did not play heavy minutes. Who were the guys that were efficient in their somewhat limited run? Here are the top seven players in efficiency per-minute who played between 40 to 79 minutes total: Rodney Hood - Utah .803, Vince Hunter - Philadelphia .721, Charles Jackson - Philadelphia .715, Ognjen Kuzmic - Golden State .620, Gilvydas Biruta - Denver .592, Richaun Holmes - Philadelphia .565, and Delon Wright - Toronto .546. 

They "struggled" (to put it mildly)

Here are the twelve worst efficiency ratings for players that played at least 80 minutes: Joe Harris - Cleveland .027 (Yikers! That is terrible!), Solomon Hill - Indiana .037, Jerel McNeal - Phoenix .135, Stephen Holt - Atlanta .145, Will Cherry - San Antonio .157, Michael Frazier - Golden State .158, Xavier Thames - Brooklyn .159, Aaron White - Washington .172, Travis Bader - Oklahoma City .173, Adonis Thomas - Detroit .177. 

Notes and random thoughts on players and the Las Vegas Summer League experience: 

Among the more bizarre happenings at the Las Vegas NBA Summer League was the attendance of Academy Award nominated actor John Malkovich. He did a lengthy stint as a court-side guest on NBA-TV. Usually we are strong critics of the in-game interview but in this case, it was GREAT TV. Malkovich told an excited Reggie Miller that he was a fan of Sacramento Kings rookie Willie Cauley-Stein. 

Attendance was outstanding in Vegas, averaging about 9,000 fans per day. 
One of the games opened with a ceremonial jump ball at center-court. Please, basketball organizers everywhere, let's NOT make this waste of time, a trend. 

Since we have been critical in the past about the National Anthem singers in Las Vegas, we should acknowledge that we didn't hear one bad version of the anthem this go-round. 

Joe Harris' numbers were alarming. An .027 EFR is as bad as anything I ever recall seeing across 110 mins.
Bryce Dejean-Jones played well. The 6'6" wing played his college ball at USC, UNLV, AND Iowa State. Dejean-Jones was the 2010 California High School Player of the Year but his NCAA career was not as smooth, bouncing from university to university. "BDJ" was a knock-down shooter this summer in Vegas, netting 61% of his field goal attempts (50% from beyond the arc). 

Lucas Nogueira's body is starting to fill out. As such, his rebounding ability seemed even stronger. The seven-footer from Brazil played well at both ends of the floor in Las Vegas. He was the 15th player taken in the 2013 NBA Draft.  

It's not every day that a player gets EIGHT steals in a game. Justin Dentmon, fresh off a stint in the Chinese CBA, did that on the opening day of play in Las Vegas. He was the best point guard we saw play during the eleven day Vegas run. Dentmon went undrafted in 2007 after playing at Washington. 
Jarrid Famous had a strong showing. He played 27 games in the D-League, and seven games in the Philippines in 2014-15. He is 6'11" 240 lbs. Famous went undrafted in 2011 out of South Florida. 

One of the best moments of Summer League was witnessing Corliss Williamson's son, (I believe his name is C.J) hitting shots like a boss during a kid-fan shooting contest. The young "Nasty" drained a top-key three like it was nothing!

...Another July come and gone. We are looking forward to the start of NBA training camps in October now! We leave you with a link to video of the top-ten summer plays (according to NBA-TV)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NBA Summer League; put some Dejean-Jones on it.

BDJ balled Monday
Bryce Dejean-Jones (8-12 FG, 4-7 3-pt., 6-7 FT) was the most efficient player on a winning team across eight games played Monday (July 13, 2015) at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Dejean-Jones scored 26 points in 25 minutes. He added three rebounds, and two steals in the New Orleans Pelicans 89-83 win over the Brooklyn Nets. The 6'6" wing played his college ball at USC, UNLV, AND Iowa State. Dejean-Jones was the 2010 California High School Player of the Year but his NCAA career was not as smooth, bouncing from university to university.

Hoop Obsession All-Summer League Team for July 13, 2015.

Shabazz Napier - Miami. ...20 points (7-14 FG, 2-4 3-pt., 4-4 FT), six rebounds, six assists, and three steals in 24 minutes. ...The Heat lost to the Denver Nuggets 86-83.

Lucas Nogueira - Toronto. ...Six points (2-4 FG, 0-1 3-pt., 2-2 FT), 13 rebounds, three assists, and four blocked shots in 24 minutes. ...The Raptors beat the Houston Rockets 95-87.

Edy Tavares - Atlanta. ...12 points (3-4 FG, 6-6 FT), ten rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots in 24 minutes. ...The Hawks lost to the D-League Select Team 84-74.

James Anderson - Sacramento. ...17 points (6-6 FG. 1-1 3-pt., 4-6 FT), four rebounds, three assists in 20 minutes. ...The Kings blew out the Golden State Warriors 90-71.

Khem Birch - New Orleans. 13 points (5-6 FG, 3-6 FT), eleven rebounds, two blocked shots in 26 minutes.

J.J. O'Brien - Utah. ...13 points (5-7 FG, 3-3 3-pt.), three rebounds, three steals in 20 minutes. ...The Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 91-82.

Norman Powell - Toronto. ...19 points (7-11 FG, 0-2 3-pt., 5-6 FT), five rebounds, two blocked shots in 23 minutes. 

Gary Talton - Toronto. ...13 points (4-6 FG, 5-5 FT), six rebounds in 22 minutes. 

D.J. White - Cleveland. ...13 points (4-7 FG, 5-6 FT), five rebounds in 22 minutes. In one of the more remarkable games of the summer to-date, the Cavs rallied from 21 points down to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime 94-87. 

Adreian Payne - Minnesota. ...18 points (5-9 FG, 1-4 3-pt., 7-11 FT), six rebounds in 29 minutes. 

Cleanthony Early - New York. ...13 points (6-13, FG, 1-2 FT), nine rebounds, three assists in 28 minutes. ...The Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers 76-66. 

Notes: ...Two players were in negative efficiency territory Monday, and one of them was the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, D'Angelo Russell. The Lakers rookie committed eight turnovers with only one assist in 23 forgettable minutes. The other player was Cameron Clark who shot 2-15 FG for Milwaukee. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Crabbe owns Summer League Sunday

Cal's Crabbe best on Sunday
Allen Crabbe scored 24 points (9-12 FG, 3-4 3-pt., 3-3 FT), added three rebounds, and two steals in just 21 minutes to earn the nod as the most efficient player on a winning team. Crabbe's Portland Trailblazers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 93-80 during the third day of play at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Crabbe, the first pick in the second round of the 2013 draft, looked like a third-year pro should look in summer, playing against mostly younger players with less experience. That written, Crabbe was exceptionally smooth Sunday, showing off his accurate jump shot. 

The Hoop Obsession All-Summer League Team for Sunday, July 12, 2015. 

D.J. Kennedy - Houston. ...21 points (6-9 FG, 1-3 3-pt., 8-8 FT), seven rebounds, three assists, four steals in 27 minutes. ...The Rockets beat the Suns 108-89. ...Kennedy went undrafted in 2011 out of St. John's. He played in two games with the Cleveland Cavs in 2011-12. Kennedy, 6'6" 215 lbs, played in the German BBL last season. 

Jarrid Famous - Washington. ...21 points (5-7 FG, 11-12 FT), ten rebounds, and three steals in 26 minutes. ...The Wizards were pounded by the D-League Select team 94-74. ...Famous played 27 games in the D-League, and seven games in the Philippines in 2014-15. He is 6'11" 240 lbs. Famous went undrafted in 2011 out of South Florida. 

Romero Osby - D League Select. ...18 points (7-12 FG, 4-5 FT), six rebounds, two steals in 20 minutes off the bench.  

Ian Clark - Denver. ...19 points (7-10 FG, 5-5 3-pt.), five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 25 minutes as a reserve. ...The Nuggets smacked the Kings 98-76. 

Norman Powell - Toronto. ...19 points (7-11 FG, 1-1 3-pt., 4-4 FT), seven rebounds, two steals in 27 minutes. ...The Raptors went to 2-0 with an 81-66 win over Chicago. ...Powell is quickly becoming a favorite of ours due to his combination of guard skills, athleticism, and power. He was the 46th player taken in the 2015 NBA Draft (We ranked him 43rd). 

Cameron Bairstow - Chicago. ...Eleven points (5-11 FG, 1-3 3-pt.), eleven rebounds, and two steals in 23 minutes. 

Shannon Scott - San Antonio. ...Eight points (3-7 FG, 2-2 3-pt.) seven rebounds, seven assists, and five steals in 23 minutes. ...The Spurs beat the Milwaukee Bucks 89-74. ...Scott has already shown us more in Summer League than we saw in him at Ohio State. He is an NBA athlete for certain. 

Kyle Anderson - San Antonio. ...22 points (5-12 FG, 2-2 3-pt., 10-11 FT), five rebounds in 22 minutes. 

Nikola Jokic - Denver. ...Ten points (4-9 FG, 1-1 3-pt., 1-2 FT), eleven rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots in 22 minutes. Jokic was the 41st player taken in the 2014 NBA Draft. He played in the Adriatic League in 2014-15. ...Jokic is 6'10" 253 lbs. 

Erick Green - Denver. ...16 points (7-11 FG, 2-4 3-pt.), three rebounds, and three steals in 23 minutes as a reserve. 

Jonathan Holmes - Boston. ...15 points (5-10 FG, 3-4 3-pt., 2-2 FT), ten rebounds in 26 minutes. ...The Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 85-76. 

Notes: Atlanta beat Golden State 71-70. ...Four players who played at least 20 minutes were in negative efficiency territory; loosely translated, they had a bad day. They were: Scott Suggs, Bobby Portis, Lamar Patterson, and Justin Anderson. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Holmes is Saturday star

Holmes' length bothers opponents
Eight NBA Summer League games took place Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, comprising day-two of the annual meet in the desert. Boston Celtics forward Jonathan Holmes was the most efficient player on a winning team. Holmes had 15 points (4-6 FG, 1-2 3-pt., 6-6 FT), seven rebounds, and two blocked shots in just 20 minutes. The four-year college player out of Texas went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft. He is a more natural power forward than he is a wing but he also showed that with reps his stroke may become consistent enough for him to play some small forward. ...The Boston Celtics defeated the Portland Trailblazers 85-76. 

Hoop Obsession All-NBA Summer League team for July 11, 2015

Bryce Cotton - Utah. ...Cotton busted 28 points (8-15 FG, 2-6 3-pt., 10-11 FT), and added five rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes. Cotton played 15 games with Utah in 2014-15 after going undrafted out of Providence in 2014. The Jazz lost to the Miami Heat 82-79. 

Kyle Anderson - San Antonio. ...The second year versatile pro had 23 points (8-15 FG, 0-2 3-pt., 7-7 FT), five rebounds, and three steals in 28 minutes. The Spurs fell to the New York Knicks 78-73. 

Bobby Portis - Chicago. ...Portis showed off his deep shooting range, canning three shots from beyond the arc on his way to 23 points (9-14 FG, 3-4 3-pt., 2-5 FT). He added seven boards in his 27 minutes. Portis was the 22nd player selected in the 2015 NBA Draft. ...Chicago beat Minnesota 84-71. 

Jordan Mickey - Boston. ...Mickey, the 33rd player taken in the 2015 NBA Draft, scored 15 points (6-10 FG, 0-1 3-pt., 3-5 FT), grabbed ten rebounds, and blocked three shots in 30 minutes. 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Brooklyn. ...The Nets broke through Saturday with their first win in six summer league tries. Hollis-Jefferson was the key guy in the Nets 76-75 win over Cleveland. "RHJ" had 15 points (5-11 FG, 1-2 3-pt., 4-6 FT), nine rebounds, four assists, and four steals. He was the 23rd pick of the first round in the 2015 NBA Draft. 

Scott Machado - Washington. ...Machado ran the point for the Wizards Saturday and responded with a nice game. He had ten points (4-7 FG, 0-3 3-pt., 2-2 FT), five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 22 minutes. ...Phoenix beat Washington 86-77.

Josh Richardson - Miami. ...The rookie from Tennessee (pick number 40 in 2015) scored 16 points (7-14 FG, 0-2 3-pt., 2-3 FT) and added seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots in 28 minutes. 

Malcolm Thomas - Portland. ...Thomas had 13 points (5-8 FG, 3-4 FT), ten boards, and two blocked shots in 31 minutes. 

Seth Curry - New Orleans. ...Seth Curry helped the Pelicans improve to 2-0 in Vegas summer league play. He scored 25 points (9-23 FG, 1-9 3-pt., 6-7 FT), with seven rebounds, and five steals in 33 minutes. New Orleans defeated Dallas 90-86. 

Dwight Powell - Dallas. ...Powell posted strong numbers with 19 points (6-13 FG, 2-7 3-pt., 5-5 FT) and 14 rebounds in 33 minutes. 

Alex Len - Phoenix. ...Len scored 17 points (7-14 FG, 3-5 FT), pulled down eight rebounds, and blocked three shots (28 Minutes) in the Suns victory. 

Notes: The Los Angeles Lakers handled the Philadelphia 76'ers 68-60. ...Three players that logged at least 20 minutes had days to forget. Robert Upshaw (Lakers), Jakarr Sampson (Sixers), and Trey Lyles (Jazz) all had negative Hoop Obsession efficiency ratings for their individual games Saturday.