Reflecting Back On Summer League Games 3 & 4
I watched the Wizards take on the Timberwolves and Clippers in the Las Vegas Summer League long ago, but am just getting my notes/observations on those two games posted.
So in the spirit of better late than never, here goes ….
(Note: I still need to get my post up on the Knicks game and hand out the summer league grades … but only to the players who ‘count’ — Blatche, Young, McGee, Crittenton and McGuire.)
Wizards vs. Timberwolves : Summer League Game 3
In the huddle before the game started, Coach Zierden told his players, “Push the ball, push the ball, push the ball … play and have fun.”
Coach Z’s firs play called: The 52 Twist. Evidently that involved a lazy pick set at the free-throw line by Andray Blatche for Nick Young. No one was open for Javaris Crittenton, so he eventually gets it to Blatche fading off the set pick to the top of the key. He takes three dribbles towards the basket and clangs an absolute brick that only hits backboard.
2nd Play of the Game: A Crittenton turnover as he tries to force a bounce pass through more traffic than on the 14th Street bridge at 8:30 am on a weekday.
3rd Play: Young comes off a screen and takes the opportunity for a fading jumper. He gets fouled, but misses the first FT, unfortunately choosing to back off the line during the process. He sinks the second.
4th Possession: Blatche gets an offensive board on the right side, but instead of going right through the defense, perhaps drawing a foul, he tries to throw up a weak reverse layup scoop that gets blocked.
Not the best start to the game, the Wizards being down 7-1 almost two minutes in … and this is before Jonny Flynn checked in.
7:04: Andray Blatche Headband Alert – after getting blocked a second time, it is officially tossed.
Other 1st Quarter Observations
- After a poor first outing, Dominic McGuire is really making an effort to play defense without his hands, always keeping them high as he moves his feet. He also displays a nose for the ball in going to GET rebounds, not letting them come to him.
- The Wizards miss a ton of bunnies close to the rim.
- Nick young has developed a much more reliable three point shot — he scores 11 points in the first seven minutes, going 2-3 from long distance.
- I wish, in the “summer league,” that Blatche would take less shots that he can get anytime (dribble drive spinning fadeaways), and take time to work more on baby hooks and drop step action.
Not only is Flynn super quick, but he’s got the strength and moxie to get all the way to the rim. Once he finagles his way past the perimeter D, the interior guys for the Wiz do a lot of watching. Flynn’s got great court vision, it’s hard to anticipate what direction he’ll go in next.
When McGuire gets a defensive board, he’s looks to push the ball himself … I wonder if that’s something Flip will be comfortable with him doing during the season. D-Mac looks like he’s getting more comfy with his transition handles himself.
4:31: Another Blatche dribble drive, spin away from the double team, and fading, off-balanced jumper — miss. Sweet Jesus, why is that his “go-to” move?
Blatche still shows that he’s a willing passer with good court vision … not sure if this talent contributes to the frustration surrounding hm or not.
Flynn scores 11 of the 16 points by Minny in the 2nd and assists on one of the other two buckets. Wiz score 20 in the 2nd, but still close the half down 43-36.
Young clearly more intent on getting closer to the basket. He looks comfortable on offense without trying to do too much. A driving layup 40 seconds into the third gives him 16 points.
Dom McGuire on offense: I like how he resorts to using “safe” offensive options … using a back-to-the-basket game when a smaller guy is on him, trying to implement drop-steps and nice footwork into his moves.
Nick Young is a very dangerous offensive player, 21 points with 3:45 left in the 3rd. Ok, I know this is summer league, but he’s nailing shots that would be tough for anyone to guard. Randy Foye getting minutes over him isn’t guaranteed, especially when Foye is a questionable defender himself.
I know he’s been working on this calm and composed “comfort zone” but Crittenton’s PG skills are still very unrefined. He has ‘skill’ but doesn’t really create much action for the offense.
After three, Flynn has 18 points. He is a bona fide finisher — mostly eating Tyrese Rice alive. Rick Kamla compares him to Rod Strickland.
About two minutes into the 4th, I find out that Blatche is 0-8 in the game. God … even I didn’t think he was playing that bad … well, maybe.
Blatche gets his first bucket at 3:31 mark. Minny gave him room just past the FT line and he nailed the jumper … good shot. I’ll always be an advocate for him shooting the mid-range jumper when he’s open.
Blatche came on late, hitting three buckets in a row … and no fadeaways, how ’bout that?
But in the end, Flynn was able to get into the lane all night. His penetration helped create back-to-back threes at the 2:16 and 1:15 marks to give the T-Wolves a nice advantage.
The Wizards, and Nick Young, had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, thanks to an absolutely horrible three-point attempt by Oleksiy Pecherov early in the shot clock with 28 seconds left. But Young missed a trey. He had a good look, but faded on his shot just a bit, probably just enough to make him miss.
The Final: 89-82 Timberwolves.
Wizards vs. Clippers : Summer League Game 4
- Javaris Crittenton has shown a better than average ability to split double teams, but sometimes he scares me, for a guy with a high turnover rate…
- Nick Young keeps getting compared to Rip Hamilton … but he’s a much better athlete with more range (maybe not in the past, but if what he’s shown during the summer league holds true during the season). With hard work, under what Flip is doing, he’ll be a much better player … of course, it’s a big “if” for Nick to be a harder worker than Rip.
- McGee needs to be doing defensive slides all day long … get that muscle memory in there. So many lengthy players get into the bad habit of playing with their arms instead of moving their feet first.
Crittenton being less of that controlled guy and more forcing the issue in the start of this game. I can see why True Hoop’s Kevin Arnovitz initially tweeted: “Re: Javaris C. When the best thing you can say about a PG is that “he’s big,” well…he sucks.”
But Crittenton did get to the line six times in the first 5:30 … but only made three of those.
5:52: McGee’s first block on Blake Griffin … you see he’s ready to spring intially, but waits and times it perfectly.
5:37: Soft touch lob from Heytvelt to McGee … seems like JaVale knows that he doesn’t have to slam all lobs and has the touch to get the ball through the net.
3:51: Type 1 flagrant on Blake Griffin, committed by McGee. It wasn’t even that bad. Griffin was going wildly to the basket, out of control, and threw his off arm into McGee first. Not saying that a foul shouldn’t have been called, but a flagrant is a little much … but hey, that’s the NBA we know today. It’s all about how a guy goes crashing to the floor, not the actual foul.
Nick Young needs to concentrate on going straight up on his jumper, and not drop his arms (kinda like the late three against Minny).
Overall, a very sloppy first quarter … stats say 12 turnovers between the two teams. Seems like a crappy CYO game, Wizards up 15-12.
But hey, with 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal and 1 block — McGee is letting the game come to him (although he did pick up three fouls before exiting at the 1:46 mark).
Love to see Dom McGuire continuing to play with high hands and moving his feet on defense. He’s working hard to cut off dribble drives. I love his effort level.
With Crittenton out the game, the other PGs are very poor at initiating the offense … especially Tywain McKie.
4:30: McGee “pulls a Blatche” by trying to dribble the ball up the court …never want to see him to that again — resulted in a turnover of course.
3:17: Great hesitation move by Young, acted like he was going to pull up, but drove baseline for a tough layup.
With the Wizards scoring 14 points and the Clips 20, it was very uneventful 2nd quarter — 32-29 LAC. In terms of Crittenton, at least he seems to drive/move with a purpose/direction instead of side to side movement like McKie.
Big difference in how Javaris came out in the 3rd, creating ball movement … contagious to the rest of the team. Three of the quarter’s first five FGs were assisted upon.
At one point midway through the quarter, Caner-Medley led a 2-1 fastbreak with Blake Griffin against McGuire. Dominic kept his eyes on Caner-Medley, but clearly stayed aware of Griffin. He easily anticipated a lob and swatted it out of bounds. Very smart defensive maneuvering by McGuire.
With several blocks early in the game (he would be credited for 7 total in the game), JaVale McGee clearly had the Clipper guards aware of his presence. They began to throw up wild shots on drives to the basket, scared to finish at the rim.
McGuire continues to find his way to loose balls, pulling down four of his 11 rebounds in the 3rd.
With less than 40 seconds left in the 3rd, McGuire hassled, Ni(c)k Caner-Medley into a late shot clock pass. Dom focused on his eyes and anticipated the direction of the pass. He kept himself in position to knock the ball down and get this third steal of the game.
7:16: Young gets heckled at the FT line … smiles … but hits both. Flip Saunders should make him do something every time he smiles, like Willie Mays Hayes and push-ups for pop-ups in Major League.
On McGee: He kept himself close to the hoop for a majority of the game … an offensive board here, an oop dunk on Blake Griffin there. No one really got physical with the kid, so it was easy for him to hang out in the paint.
On Nick Young: He seems to be perfecting offensive diversity: hitting set three pointers created by penetration, driving to the basket when there is an open lane, or faking a long shot and working to get his mid-range game going when the paint is crowded. Haven’t learned too much about his defense during the summer league, but it’s not a good environment to measure progress in that area anyway.
If Young can further develop his offense, and the endurance he needs to constantly move/run off screens, he will be an awesome asset coming off the bench. Of course, Nick MUST always be ready, and simply cannot be the type of offensive player who needs minutes/shots to ‘get going’ — I’ve often found that to be a cop out excuse for having a bad night.
Final Note: The Wizards closed out the Clippers by doing the good things they’d been doing all game: shooting better than a horrid shooting LA team (42.1% for the Wiz isn’t good, but LA was at 35.6%), and moving the ball just enough to get decent looks … and most of this was simply the result of the Wizards having more talent on the floor.
The Final: 74-64 Wizards.
You can find more Wizards Summer League info in the posts below:
- Key Legislature: Wizards 109 at Clippers 114 — California Dreaming of Fat Ladies Singing
- Key Legislature: Wizards 129 vs Timberwolves 132 — Devastation on Fun Street
- Don’t Test or Cross the Basketball Gods — Wizards vs Timberwolves, DC Council 72
- The Sky Done Crashed Down — Wizards at Nuggets, DC Council 65