[John Wall talks about overcoming offensive struggles (he recognizes that he's trying to fade too much and isn't holding the follow-through on his jumper) and his 18 point third quarter on Friday night en route to an 90-89 Wizards win over New Orleans (his team as a whole wasn't making shots, so he pushed the issue by focusing on getting to the basket). More on the game below the video.]
One of the most oft-said/written phrases I’ve heard while in Vegas isn’t, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” No, “It’s just summer league,” has been drilled into our heads.
And we get it. At least those familiar with the NBA get it. We know about Marcus Banks’ 42 points in 2007, and Nokoloz Tskitishvili’s 25.7 ppg that led the league in 2004, and how summer league success has translated for Washington’s own Nick Young, or not.
Sure, summer games can come with heavy doses of AAU ball, but with players actually wanting to play defense more and for longer stretches of time — a lot of these below the cusp guys realize they need to butter their potential NBA bread on the defensive end of the floor.
Dunks are fun. The games mean nothing. Level of competition is a factor. And if you can’t relish in the fact that some guys for the Wizards are playing well, because “it’s just summer league,” then at least relish in the fact that no one for the team is really stinking it up.
Friday’s Wizards win over the Hornets was likely the best Summer League show Vegas has seen, crowd-pleasing moments galore. After starting 4-14 on FGs with 11 points in the first half, John Wall had an amazing third quarter where he scored 18 points on 5-7 FGs and 8-9 from the line. He also picked up three rebounds and three steals in the period.
There was also, of course, the offensively mercurial JaVale McGee. He had that monster dunk, already covered in the previous post, among a slew of other gun slingin’ moves (which I also wrote about for ESPN’s Daily Dime) … feel like JaVale is the Brett Favre of the basketball court sometimes.
And then there was the Craig Brackins three pointer that put the Hornets up 89-88 with 2.2 seconds left. A pretty big shot for Brackins since earlier in the game, after he’d sent Wall to the free-throw line, teammate Quincy Pondexter turned to him and said, “Play [expletive deleted] basketball and stop [expletive deleted].” Point taken, I guess.
Finally there was Lester Hudson, the show stopper whose two stat sheet steals fail to do his quick hands and disruptive defense justice. Oh yea, he also hit the game-winning buzzer beater for the Wiz.
With three players capable of playing the point (Wall, Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich), there might not be room for another combo guard like Hudson on the team … considering Ernie Grunfeld has proclaimed that he would like to add small forward, a signing which would give the Wizards a roster of 13, and we all know how Grunfeld likes to leave those last two spots open for flexibility. Then again, maybe he’ll treat the roster of a rebuilding team differently.
Hopefully Hudson will at least warrant a training camp invite because I like what I’ve seen out of him. He’s averaging 9.3 points on 48.3% shooting with 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 19.5 minutes of summer league action over four games so far. He’s also gone 7-15 from the three-point line, not bad at all. Seems like Hudson can do a bit of everything — after all, he is the only NCAA D-I player ever to record a quadruple-double.
Then again, it’s just summer league.