By now you’ve seen the report cards, rankings and ratings of how the class of 2010 fared at Las Vegas Summer League (and I’m glad you did, because I hate trying to grade players when I don’t feel entirely comfortable at guessing where their games should be just yet).

After a week of watching games, discussing players and taking notes, I wanted to leave you with some of my observations from press row:

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John Wall is going to be very, very good. Besides the obvious, it’s the approach that Wall is taking that sticks out to me above all else. Yes, he averaged 23.4 points and 7.8 assists per game (the leader in both categories), but it was his post-game scrums that had me smiling.

When he was asked about the part of his game he most wants to get right before season starts he said: “Shooting the midrange. That’s the main shot they’re going to give me coming off of the pick and roll and I want to be able to knock it down. Derrick Rose said he came back and worked on his and the next season he was making them so going into my rookie year I want to be able to make that shot consistently.”

A rookie that looks at what Rose said and wants to get it right from the jump is impressive to me. On the days when he struggled from the floor, he was the first to critique himself, lamenting his decision to shoot the tough fadeaway and get away from the proper mechanics he has been taught. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve heard a young player in the league talk about his mechanics. Wall is a superstar in the making, a phenomenal talent and somehow, still a very self-aware and humble player when it comes to sizing up his own game.

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Sam Cassell is a joy to watch … coach. Pacing the sidelines, screaming out instructions to his players, arguing with the refs on every other play, Cassell took summer league seriously. It was so much fun to watch him in action and even more enjoyable when he comes over to press row a day after his Wiz got the W to talk to talent evaluators and discuss some of those missed calls from the day before. He wasn’t playing, but he was just as into it as when he was a player. It’ll be fun to watch Wall and Cassell over the course of the season.

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DeMarcus Cousins is going to have his hands full learning how to control his emotions. The Kings are going to have their hands full with helping him. Still, he’s worth the fifth pick in the draft. Wow, is this guy is talented. He’s got the hands, feet, size, speed, skill — you name it, he’s got it. Gifted with so much ability, Cousins has already earned the rep of “problem child” and hecklers have eaten it up. No other player was heckled as much as Cousins in Vegas and there were times when he was visibly frustrated. There were also times when he looked like he should have gone higher than the fifth pick. Yeah, yeah, everyone will remember his “bad triple-double” where he fouled out with the 10 summer league fouls, but he still had a double-double in that game and finished up by leading the league in rebounding. He’s going to be alright. And I would have taken him with the second pick. Seriously.

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Dominique Jones might not be able to shoot, but he sure can score. At first glance, Jones is much, much shorter than he is listed, but he’s solid. That frame aids him in his ability to attack the rim fearlessly, making up for a less than stellar jumpshot. I knew that Jones was a scorer, but it was so much fun to watch him get to the hoop. He was pretty much unstoppable when he decided where he wanted to be on the floor. Now, if he can take some of Wall’s advice and learn how to shoot a jumper, he’s got a chance to be a real steal in this draft class.

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Ed Davis is much better offensively than advertised. Covering the Raptors, I thought I had a handle on whoever they would end up selecting in the draft. After a handful of workouts, talking to prospects, I was ready. That is, I was ready until Davis slipped and the Raptors had a rookie who had never before been to Canada. Going into Vegas, I had been told Davis was great defensively and beyond raw offensively. I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. He was great defensively and he was relentless at attacking the boards and trying to block shots. One result of crashing the boards was his 12.6 points per game average, coming on 62 percent shooting from the floor. Davis has lots to learn, but in his Raptors debut he’s turned heads.

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Seeing Monty Williams for the first time since he accepted his first head coaching job with the Hornets was fun. I spoke at length with Williams this past season when Portland was in town and have a great deal of admiration for the way he conducts himself in this world of professional sports. Despite all of the drama that is going on with Chris Paul and the Hornets, I’m thrilled he’ll get a chance to have a truly great player’s coach on the sidelines.

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JaVale McGee is a summer league superstar. He had the dunk of the summer, he posted averages of 19.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and he looked every bit the summer league veteran that he is. What’s more, he seemed to have already developed great on-court chemistry with Wall, great news for Wizards fans. Now, to see if he can keep his emotions and maturity in check and stay on the floor, where his team will need him to be.

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DeMar DeRozan was everything this time around that fans had hoped he would be last year. Averaging 21 points per game on 58 percent shooting, the work DeRozan has put into his game was on display for everyone to see. His new found confidence in both his shot and attacking abilities allowed him to put his athleticism to use as he sprinted up and down the floor, the recipient of too many alley oops to count. Looking stronger than last season, if DeRozan can improve his defense as much as he’s improved his mechanics on the offensive end, it should be a solid sophomore year for the 20 year-old.

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Other notes: Joey Dorsey is Dwight-lite with his shoulders and tied Cousins for rebounding honors. … Roddy Beaubois is still the fastest player I’ve seen live. … Omri Casspi makes summer league games look like a matter of life and death and I love him for that. … Devin Ebanks is a perfect fit for the Lakers. … Donte Greene works so hard and has so many ups and downs in his game, I want so badly for him to succeed and get it right. … Lester Hudson is really fun to watch in games like these. … Bill Walker looks a million times better since shedding some serious weight. … It’s awesome watching Brandon Jennings, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Amir Johnson, Jarrett Jack, Tyreke Evans and others sit on the bench to cheer their teammates on. … Sam Young is more fun to watch than Hasheem Thabeet. And, Larry Sanders? That guy is a baller and the Bucks, once again, did their homework and got themselves a steal.

Final thought: If anyone ever tells you that summer league doesn’t mean anything, ask Jeremy Lin what it means. A strong summer league campaign just earned him a deal with the Warriors. Congratulations to him. Maybe he’ll be making Wesley Matthews money in a few years.

Comments (7)

  1. Hey Holly! Nice post… I wasn’t able to go to Vegas but your post gives me a nice overview of summer league!! Very insightful and informative… Nice job!!!

  2. This is a great recap of everyone in the Summer League, especially for some of us who don’t have the time to keep up with all the rookies but are still interested. I’m really excited for the new season to start!

  3. Great post, Holly. Kinda wishing my Nets took Cousins with the 3rd pick, he looks like the real deal (Though, Summer League rarely tells the full story). Hopefully Favors can get his shit together and be a solid pick playing beside Lopez for the next 10 years.

  4. Thoughts on Sonny?

  5. Congrats to Lin. Nets or Boston could have used him since he can play point and drive to the basket. Fun to watch. Was he studying Iverson 101 at Harvard?

    Summer League was balls out fun this year.

  6. PB: I’ll have more Raptors content up on the main NBA page, rather than here where the coverage will be on the entire league.

    In short: Sonny looks great, has improved his range, needs to continue to work on setting up others because hes a more than capable passer and is showing his year was not a fluke. He can score with ease and has gotten stronger. The best thing about his game is the confidence he’s got, with a full season of getting minutes in the rotation under his belt.

    Tristan: I would have taken him second! He’s a beast. He has all of the qualities you want in a bigman.

  7. Wow, could Cassell look any more disapproving of Cousins spending time with Wall in that picture?

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