The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin. Summer League is less about wins and losses and more about trying to determine what players can contribute on the NBA level.
- Anyone who has ever played a game of pick up basketball with strangers knows that the game often rests in the hands of whoever is doing the majority of the ball handling. A good ball handler with court vision tends to lead his or her team to a victory, mainly because having the instinct to see a play as it’s developing is far too rare a skill. The first quarter of the game against the D-League select team saw Dallas hang 26 points on their opponents, mainly due to the court vision of Gal Mekel, who dished seven of his team high nine assists in the period while also scoring six points. After his substitution toward the end of the first quarter, Dallas lost nearly all offensive momentum and never really regained it.
- The Jae Crowder summer league experience continues. He plays so incredibly hard, and that’s very important for a role player. He filled the stat sheet, scoring 14 and getting three steals and three blocks. He needs to rebound better but he flies all over the court defensively so for now, this issue can be set aside. Crowder also curbed his three point shot attempts; in the previous two games he’d averaged 6.5 attempts per game, whereas against the D-League select roster he shot only one, which he missed. Crowder had also mentioned wanting to get to the line more during these final summer league games. He succeeded in this game, going to the line 10 times, but somehow only made four. Though poor free throw shooting is not a new issue for Crowder, it’s something he has to improve on.
- Bernard James missed his second straight game and may be done for the summer. In his place the Maverick bigs faired suprisingly well, considering their previous invisibility. N’Daiye was quite active defensively, Jackie Carmichael had some great finishes around the rim, and even Dwayne Dedmon appeared to be a real basketball player. None of these players seem to be NBA level bigs, but each has shown some improvement throughout the first three games. That’s all one can really hope for.
- One hates to complain about reffing, mainly because this is Summer League and not the NBA finals. However, Summer League actually serves as a training ground for NBA hopeful referees. This game, the refs failed to adequately take control of the game, instead electing to call an amazing 65 fouls in 40 minutes of action. That’s a foul every 37 seconds. As the game wore on, the flow dragged to a halt, turning the game into a grind. Of course, it’s on both teams to adjust to how refs call the game and neither team, particularly the Mavericks, seemed to catch the drift. The Mavs committed a number of really strange hip checks and body contact far, far away from the basket. Bad fouls eventually add up, and the D-League select team shot 43 free throws, hitting 14 more than Dallas. The combination of missing free throws and giving up that many more was the difference in a close game.
- It’s getting hard not to gush about Ricky Ledo. Yes, he makes some silly mistakes during games (stepping on the sideline, moving before dribbling, poor spacing), but he’s also just 20 years old, and this is his third organized game of basketball in over a year. Offensively, his game is really impressive. He has beautiful form on his jumper and against the D-League Select squad he was able to get up a number of difficult attempts. Ledo also has phenomenal body control. In the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, Ledo converted two tough shots off the dribble moving towards the basket. It’s hard to really describe what kind of shot they were, but for a player who should be rather rusty, he’s starting to look quite at home.
- I continue to be amazed at Josh Akognon’s shot selection. He hit a few beautiful jumpers off of Gal Mekel set ups, but his often baffling decisions to chuck shots, particularly off of designed in-bounds players, hurt Dallas. I can appreciate that a play may be designed for a particular player to get a look, but just because one can do something doesn’t mean one should do something. He’s also atrocious defensively. The Mavericks actually played some fantastic stretches of scrambling team defense, but Akognon’s purposeless gambling and poor recovery angles often left his teammates out to dry. He should not be averaging more minutes than Ricky Ledo.
- In the final 31 minutes of play, Dallas as a team only had five assists. If the team hopes to win another game, Mekel can not be the only player distributing the ball to teammates.
Be sure to check out TMG’s Bryan Gutierrez as he contributes to ESPN Dallas during LSVL.
Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.