Prior to last week’s Wizards-Mavericks summer league game, in what had to be one of the shortest, most unconventional interviews ever, I talked to Omar Samhan about his matchup with JaVale McGee. I knew that Samhan was stronger and more skilled in the low post, but I also understood that McGee was longer, more athletic and more experienced in terms of how the NBA game is played.
I asked Samhan, via Blackberry Messenger of all places, what his approach to guarding McGee would be. He typed:
“Try to outsmart him. Be physical with him.”
Unfortunately for Samhan, me, and the fans who watched both on television and in person, that classic, low-post type battle never materialized. And McGee took full advantage.
[Trevor Booker snatches a pre-game warm-up rebound away from teammate Corsley Edwards.]
What exactly does Trevor Booker do? That’s the question.
Booker’s summer league stats don’t jump off the page. In 28.2 minutes over five games he averaged 8.2 points on 51.6-percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals, one block, 0.6 assists and 2.6 turnovers. His best game came in the finale against the New York Knicks when John Wall, JaVale McGee and Raymar Morgan didn’t play — he tallied 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes.
After game three against the Dallas Mavericks, Mike Prada of Bullets Forever wrote, “I’m getting a bit concerned that the Wizards don’t exactly know what to do with Trevor Booker, aka ‘Grown-Ass Man,’ on offense.”
I finally made it back to D.C. from Las Vegas after a bit of travel adventure. Below is John Wall’s Summer League ‘exit interview’ video, if you will, and below that is a recap of his time in Vegas that I wrote for ESPN’s Daily Dime on Sunday. More follow-ups on the Summer League to come.
The hype surrounding John Wall has been akin to a well-crafted campaign by Don Draper of “Mad Men,” as good as advertised. His product, basketball-speaking, was flying off the shelves during a four-game stint at the 2010 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, but he performed better than expected in areas that don’t require physical talents, such as leadership and communication.
Wall sat out of the Wizards’ fifth and final game on Saturday, a 109-107 overtime loss to the New York Knicks, Washington’s only defeat of the summer. Afterward, Wall cited tendinitis in both knees as the need to rest, something the 19-year-old said he’s always dealt with.
I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it by now, JaVale McGee’s monster dunk over New Orleans’ Kyle Hines in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game. It was pretty damn insane … and definitely would have been nice to see. I was right there, mere feet away taking pictures from the baseline. And right there in my way was the referee. Thankfully in this day and age there is a YouTube, so let’s take another watch.
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).
[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.