JaVale McGee has played with a bunch of NBA point guards, if you use that term liberally. Gilbert Arenas, Randy Foye, Earl Boykins, Dee Brown, Mike James, Javaris Crittenton — not exactly the most pass-first bunch. Aside from a brief time spent receiving the ball from Shaun Livingston, McGee has mostly had to look out for himself on offense.
OK, that’s taking some liberties given that many of McGee’s non-dunk field goal attempts mimic a game of hot potato. This is largely of his own, impatient design. Still, he’s never played alongside the capabilities of someone like John Wall, a player who relishes in the assist.
“I know at least two out of three times I roll, I’m going to be getting the ball or he’s going to throw it up at the rim or he’s going to draw everybody to him when he lays it up, and I’m going to score and get the rebound,” McGee said after the Wizards’ 88-82 win over the Mavericks on Thursday evening.
But it’s not just about scoring opportunities for McGee; it’s about Wall’s ability to get those to rally around his energy and passion, also known as leadership. “When we go out there, we’re just together,” McGee said. “Everybody is just amped up because of his leadership and the way he’s amped up.”
When Omar Samhan came to work out for the Wizards, I was impressed by his personality and character. How could I not be? He took the time to shake the hand of every media member after he was interviewed. In fact, because of his laurels coming into that May 13th appearance, a Sweet Sixteen 2010 NCAA Tournament run with 10-seed Saint Mary’s, I had a post focusing on Samhan before and after his Washington audition.
Samhan left attending members of the D.C. media hoping the Wizards would draft him, or at least that they’d put him on their summer league roster. But alas, it wasn’t mean to be. The Wiz won the lottery, John Wall, and the need for freak athletes to match Wall’s transition speed became the preference. Samhan is a skilled big with great footwork and hustle, but he’s far from NBA quick, conditioning being the area most teams are telling him to work on.
Although ultimately undrafted, Samhan did make it to Vegas on the Dallas Mavericks roster. Unfortunately for him, the Mavs have since acquired a number of big men (Ian Mahinmi, Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca), which likely leaves Omar out of Mark Cuban’s shuffle. But he doesn’t let that change his spirit or hard work on the court. By the way, Dallas plays Washington tonight at 8 pm EST, giving Wiz fans a chance to see how Samhan fares against their team’s young bigs.
While here, TrueHoop Network Mavs blogger, Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game, worked through the Dallas PR folks to arrange an exclusive interview with Samhan, which included taking a ride on the New York-New York Casino roller coaster. Rob needed a photographer/videographer (of the Flip Cam variety) for his piece and I was more than happy to go along. I mean, how many times would I get the chance to ride a roller coaster with NBA hopeful Omar Samhan? And I’m not even a roller coaster guy (I don’t think Samhan is either).
I’ve taken a bunch of pictures while at summer league. The more the merrier is what I say. And I’ll have more to come soon, but the one below is my favorite so far. It was taken just after the Wizards played their second game against the Clippers. The photo is a little blurry because it was taken with more motion (from me and the subjects) than I’d planned for, but I think it turned out just fine. Notice the serious looks on the faces of Flip Saunders on the left and Sam Cassell to the barely right, as if “it’s just summer league.” And then notice how John Wall is just enjoying life.
[Editor's note: I would like to welcome Rashad Mobley to the staff of TAI. Rashad has covered the Wizards with media credentials over the past two seasons for HoopsAddict.com. He's also written several guest posts on this site. Now, I'm excited to announce that Rashad will be bringing his writing skills to TAI full-time. And for his debut as 'officially' official, he dives further into Nick Young's one game in Vegas. Enjoy. -Kyle]
[Nick Young gains separation from Trey Johnson
heading toward a screen from Corsley Edwards.]
Last Thursday when the Washington Wizards PR staff allowed bloggers and writers to watch mini-camp practice, I had some things I expected to see. I expected to see up and down play from John Wall; I expected to see JaVale McGee and Hamady N’Diaye doing friendly battle in the post; and I definitely expected to see Sam Cassell barking instructions out because, well..that’s what’s Cassell does.
But I can honestly say that I did not expect to see Nick Young on that practice court. Yet there he was, taking passes from Wall in stride and launching jumpers, playing pressure defense, and matching the intensity of players not guaranteed a roster spot like he seemingly is.
You know Clipper Darrell, right? He’s the famed fan of the Los Angeles Clippers who, according to his website, has attended 385 straight Clipper home games. He was even once recruited by Mark Cuban to come to Dallas and become Maverick Darrell. Unfortunately for Cuban, Clipper Darrell is faithful to his team, which means, of course, he and his multi-colored suit made the short trek to Las Vegas to support the Clip Show in the 2010 NBA Summer League.
On Monday night, Clipper Darrell’s team faced John Wall and the Washington Wizards. The number one Clippers fan was sure to alert the number one draft pick of his presence.
Wall took a hard tumble on a drive to the basket with less than a minute left in the first quarter. As he stepped to the line, the gym got quiet. “John Wall, welcome to the NBA!,” said Clipper Darrell, alerting Wall on his initiation to a more physical level of basketball. “U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi!!!,” he followed. The arena erupted with laughter, including from Wall and teammate Nick Young.
If Andray Blatche didn’t break his foot, his summer league reign might have continued. Instead, he handed the crown to Nick Young, who on Monday evening in Las Vegas, Nevada announced that he is retiring his summer league jersey after just one appearance in 2010.
One day Young will in turn bestow the same honor to someone else (JaVale McGee, perhaps?) … the use of “Summer League” as a moniker, or crown, or title — as in, “Hey Summer League, pass me the ball,” or “Man, Summer League let Marc Gasol score 10 points on him in the first 6:12 of the game.”
In the Wizards’ 84-69 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Young carried the torch and he went out on top. He scored 18 points on 6-11 from the field and 4-7 from long distance. Young only committed two turnovers in his 28 minutes of play, also notching a block, two steals and a whole rebound, but nary an assist.
Last summer Young averaged 23.8 points, third most in the league, on 50% from the field and 0.8 assists in four games. In 2008, he averaged 11 points on 35.2% shooting over five games. In 2007, Young averaged 14.8 points, second on the Wizards to Oleksiy Pecherov’s 15.2 points, on 38.8% from the field with 0.6 assists per game.
Hamady N’diaye only played eight minutes, 37 seconds in his Summer League debut with the Washington Wizards. He barely made an impression on the box score. He took one shot, missed it, had one rebound and one turnover. “H” almost had a sweet dunk, but got excited and traveled. He also got a 3-second defensive lane violation called on him.
Most would look at the box and think “Yuck, but that’s a late second round pick (No. 56 to be exact) for ya.” So why do I like Hamady so much? Let me explain.
No, N’diaye didn’t ‘wow’ me yesterday. And it’s just one Summer League game on his long journey to become a contributor on the court. But if my observations are true, Hamady has a solid foundation constructed in just over six short years of playing competitive basketball.
First, as much as I bragged about John Wall’s communication, I should do the same with N’diaye. I’m willing to bet that four years spent at Rutgers, where he acquired a degree in communications, helped him hone his verbal skills. He knows that it’s the center’s job to be that defensive anchor, to see what his teammates might not see and to let them know.