Adventures in Summer Leaguing, Volume I

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 10, 2010 under Commentary, Recaps | 6 Comments to Read

I wish Summer League lent itself to delicate prose, but unfortunately it’s basketball best consumed in bullet points. There aren’t narratives per se, but the minutiae beg to be absorbed:

  • Rodrigue Beaubois returned to Summer League to refine his point guard skills, but you wouldn’t know it from his first game. Rodrigue put up 16 shots (including nine threes, of which he made none) and was aggressively pursuing shots as the game went on. Dallas actually ran the offense through Dominique Jones and Jeremy Lin a fair bit. Not a crime, but also not indicative of much development.
  • Jones is even stronger than expected. We knew he was a bull of a shooting guard who thrived by getting to the rim at South Florida, but he’s displaying every bit of that ability against his SL competition. It’s not quite the NBA, but it’s a good start. Jones looks quick enough to get around his defender, even if most of his moves were relatively unremarkable straight-line drives. He was very effective, and reasonably efficient: Dominique finished with 19 points on 13 shots, with his low FG% (38.5%) hedged by his frequent trips to the line (12 FTAs). Five turnovers is no good, but at this point that just sees like the sour point of Jones’ game. He does one thing extremely well for a late first rounder, and the rest will have to come along as he goes.
  • Omar Samhan didn’t have a hugely productive night, and he’s not exactly set to dominate against even SL competition. Mobility really didn’t seem to be all that much of an issue, but he didn’t convert on NCAA-caliber post moves. He is doing good work, though. Even though Samhan didn’t put up many attempts, his post game is refined enough to make an impact. He also showed some touch in the face-up game, connecting on a few long two-pointers. Defensive impact: TBD.
  • J.R. Giddens works to hedge his mistakes, but the problem is that he makes entirely too many of them. He’s a decent athlete with a mid-range jumper, but doesn’t seem to know how to put it all together. He abandons his defensive position, works to get the ball offensively but is probably counterproductive in doing so, and isn’t all that versatile. Giddens is good Summer League filler, but not an NBA player.
  • SMU product Mouhammad Faye played well. His 12 points and eight boards were far more fun than I expected we’d get from Faye, but he was just as impressive defensively. He’s 6’9” but a long 6’9”, and looks like he could slide into a niche NBA role as a resident defender/rebounder. Definitely a natural SF, but I suppose he could play PF in a pinch.
  • One of the things that bothered me about Beaubois’ performance was the way in which he surrendered control of the offense. As I mentioned above, there’s nothing wrong with letting Jones or Lin initiate offensive sequences, but Beaubois simply shifted between phases of scoring (or attempting to) and deferring. There was no middle ground, he was either spotting-up while others made plays or created for himself off the dribble.
  • Moussa Seck is obviously a giant, but he doesn’t have the lower body strength or girth to fully utilize his size. Yao Ming isn’t solely a special athlete because of his work ethic and touch. He also has the strength and size necessary to claim position in the low post and box out. Seck doesn’t have that, and he may never.
  • Dominique Jones’ jumper, which has typically been listed as his most glaring weakness, isn’t NBA ready. He doesn’t look comfortable at all when pulling up, and looks to his J only as a last, last, last resort. That jumper will eventually be what separates Dominique from run-of-the-mill specialists, and the more he looks to diversify his offensive abilities (legit NBA three-point range would go a long way), the more undeniable his utility becomes.
  • Jeremy Lin may not get an NBA spot, but he’s going to play somewhere. And he’s going to play very well. He’d make a very good third point guard in the immediate future, and has the potential to be a reliable bench back-up. Not starting material, but he’s an intelligent playmaker, a capable scorer, and a better-than-advertised defender. When in dual-PG sets with Beaubois (or tri-guard sets with Beaubois and Jones), it was actually Lin that the Mavs put on the Nuggets’ Ty Lawson, not Rodrigue. Lawson still had a tidy 11 points while shooting very well from the field, but the assignment says something of Lin’s defense in itself.
  • Underwhelming: DeShawn Sims (who I expect will play a bit better and a bit more in the future), Shan Foster (who I don’t).

Guess Who’s Coming to Vegas?

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 3, 2010 under Commentary, News | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Vegas Summer League is not only a who’s who of emerging, just-drafted talent, but also a nice survey of the draftees, foreign prospects, and campus legends of yesteryear. It’s as much about investigating newfound talent as it is about rediscovering those that have long been buried. Shan Foster is such a prospect, even if he’s never really gotten a fair NBA shake. However, two notable names have popped up on Vegas roster that should be somewhat interesting to Mavs fans: Gerald Green and Mo Ager.

Green is a typical false prophet; though his raw materials may seem divine, the final product spins truths and speaks falsehoods. His insane physical skills have somehow blasphemed both the laws of nature and his own basketball future. He’s had chances in Dallas, in Houston, in Minnesota, and in Boston, but no good ever came of it. Just scoring bursts, heat checks, and defensive headaches.

This summer, Gerald will have the opportunity to flex those same skills for the Lakers. Regardless of what happens, understand that this is exactly the kind of competition Green was made for: unglorified pick-up ball with only the slightest preparations. I doubt every shot will be his for the taking, but he’s going to get his fair share, and there are times where he’ll look like a legitimate NBA pro. He’s not. Or at least, he wasn’t, the last we saw of him. Players can and do change, but unless there was a cataclysmic shift in Gerald’s psyche, all of the flash in the world isn’t going to turn him into a real boy.

Ager, who will be playing for the Hornets, is something else entirely. While much was never really expected out of Mo from those on the outside, he’s still a former first rounder and a bit of a wayward selection. The Mavs’ brass selected Ager with the 28th pick in the ’06 draft, and they can only hope the 25th pick in the ’10 draft doesn’t turn out similarly. I’m very excited to see what Dominique Jones is capable of in the big leagues, but the similarities between he and Ager are painfully apparent. Mo was never quite as prolific, and they aren’t identical physical specimens, yet it’s clearly not impossible for Jones to follow a similar career path. All of this will be determined with far more certainty at a later date, but for the moment, Dominique is perhaps even less likely to pan out as an NBA mainstay than he is to go the way of Mo.

New Blood

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 2, 2010 under News | 5 Comments to Read

Photo by AP Photo.

The Mavs released their official Vegas Summer League roster today, and there are a few surprises:

Name#POSHTWTFROMYRS PRO
Rodrigue Beaubois3G6'2''182Guadeloupe1
J.R. Giddens5G6'5''215New Mexico2
Jeremy Lin7G6'3''200HarvardR
Amara Sy9F6'8''224FranceR
DeShawn Sims10F6'8''235MichiganR
Dominique Jones20G6'4''215South FloridaR
Shan Foster30G6'6''205VanderbiltR
Omar Samhan34C6'11''265St. Mary'sR
Mouhammad Faye35F6'9''215SMUR
Eric Tramiel42F6'7''230North TexasR
Moussa Seck44C7'4''220SenegalR

Mavs’ assistant coaches Monte Mathis and Darrell Armstrong will be the head and assistant coaches of the SL team, respectively.

Here are the prospects who participated in Mavs mini-camp, but didn’t make the Summer League roster: Jermaine Beal (Vanderbilt), Kelvin Lewis (Houston), Jamel White (Texas Wesleyan), Andre Emmett (Texas Tech; drafted by the Sonics in 2004), Tony Crocker (Oklahoma), Dwight Lewis (USC), Larry Owens (Oral Roberts/Tulsa 66ers), Derrick Byars (Drafted by the Blazers in 2007), Roderick Flemings (Hawaii), and Zivonko Buljan (TCU).

Larry Owens is probably the most regrettable omission, but the inclusion of Sy and Giddens makes up for it in my eyes. Sims isn’t a bad addition either, and while he isn’t ready for the pros just yet, he should be good in Vegas. There will be more to come later on the Summer League roster, particularly the new names.

To Everything, There Is a Season

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 29, 2010 under Commentary, News | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by AP.

Vegas Summer League is fast approaching, and with the draft in the rear-view mirror, the roster is starting to take shape. Here’s a preliminary depth chart of all of the prospects confirmed for the team (in bold) and those invited to tryout for a spot in the Mavs’ mini-camp.

PG – Rodrigue Beaubois (Maverick U), Jeremy Lin (Harvard), Jermaine Beal (Vanderbilt)

SG – Dominique Jones (South Florida; drafted by the Mavs in 2010), Shan Foster (Vanderbilt; drafted by the Mavs in 2008), Kelvin Lewis (Houston), Jamel White (Texas Wesleyan), Andre Emmett (Texas Tech; drafted by the Sonics in 2004), Tony Crocker (Oklahoma), Dwight Lewis (USC)

SF – Larry Owens (Oral Roberts/Tulsa 66ers), Derrick Byars (Drafted by the Blazers in 2007), Eric Tramiel (North Texas), Roderick Flemings (Hawaii)

PF – Mouhammad Faye (SMU), Zivonko Buljan (TCU)

C – Omar Samhan (St. Mary’s), Moussa Seck (Senegal)

Hat-tip to Jeff Caplan and Scott Schroeder. You can view the Mavs’ Summer League schedule here.

You may notice that the Mavs’ two second round picks from last year, Nick Calathes and Ahmad Nivins, are both oddly absent. Calathes is prevented from playing in Summer League due to his deal with Panathinaikos Athens. Nivins would theoretically be cleared, but was sidelined with a knee injury while playing for Manresa last December. Mark Cuban confirmed via email that Ahmad is still rehabbing.

The roster could still change a bit between now and the end of mini-camp, particularly if any of the more skilled invitees decide to play for the Mavs. Most of the top undrafted players are already accounted for, but there are still plenty of prospects out there. Brian Zoubek (Duke), Mac Koshwal (DePaul), Devan Downey (South Carolina), Justin Mason (Texas), Courtney Fortson (Arkansas), Marquis Gilstrap (Iowa State), Tyler Smith (Tennessee), and Tommy Mason-Griffin (Oklahoma) all worked out for the Mavs and are unattached for Vegas, making them the more likely possibilities of the bunch.

Even if there aren’t any notable additions between now and the start of Summer League, there are plenty of interesting players in this bunch. Beaubois you already know, and it’ll be nice to get another look at him running the point full-time. Dominique Jones will make his Maverick debut, and I have a feeling a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised. Larry Owens is an interesting wing prospect coming to the Mavs by way of the D-League, and he’s capable of providing some scoring (including three-point shooting) and rebounding at SF. Omar Samhan and the 7’4” Moussa Seck provide two very different looks at center, but both will command your viewing attention when on the floor.

It’s still doubtful the Summer League team will produce any unknown talent worthy of making the Mavs’ roster this season, but there could be some training camp prospects in the bunch. Not to mention candidates for the Texas Legends. It’s not quite Maverick basketball, but this is going to be fun, folks.

The Third Wave

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 26, 2010 under Commentary, News | 3 Comments to Read

The 2010 free agent class is unprecedented in many ways. Never before has a group of athletic mercenaries been so thoroughly dissected, endlessly analyzed, and hotly anticipated. Once the shenanigans begin on July 1st, all sorts of fun will be had, as so many franchises across the league will y be either destroyed or reborn in a cleansing fire.

Now, pay close attention, because while everyone is paying attention to the glitter at the head of the class, plenty of interesting things will be going on at the tail. Players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are proven and invaluable, but the summer will also yield completely untested prospects: undrafted free agents. In a typical NBA off-season, that doesn’t mean much; occasionally a team may unearth a role player from the undrafted ranks, but even that only happens on the rarest of occasions. Yet the survivors of this year’s draft seem a bit different. There obviously aren’t any earth-shaking talents in the bunch, but there are a number of interesting players that are viable candidates not only for a Summer League roster, but perhaps a spot on the Legends or even more.

Obviously not all of those prospects are going to pick Dallas over all of their other suitors, but the early returns are promising. Despite a mini-report from Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports, a Twitter exchange between St. Mary’s center Omar Samhan and Mark Cuban indicates that Samhan will indeed be a part of the Mavs’ Summer League team. Harvard point guard Jeremy Lin is also tabbed as a part of the fun. That’s a hell of a start, especially since Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones will headline. It should be interesting to see how the rest of the Vegas roster turns out.

Unfortunately, the Mavs have to do without a number of players they had expressed a clear interest in.

There are plenty of prospects still out there (Mikhail Torrance, Charles Garcia, Mac Koshwal, Aubrey Coleman, etc.), but the demand for these players is clear. By now, I’m sure the appropriate calls have already been placed. That makes the process less of a selection and more of a waiting game. The Summer League roster should be assembled in about a week’s time, which doesn’t leave much time for anticipation. Still, it’s worth keeping tabs on the unclaimed third round draftees over the next few days.

Tell Me More, Tell Me More

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 16, 2010 under News | 2 Comments to Read

Summer league is a glorious, glorious string of games played by players you’ve barely heard of, the biggest also-ran stars from your alma mater, and a few of the Mavs’ roster’s more lovable tykes. Plus, Rodrigue Beaubois. So that’s nice. Here’s the Mavs’ schedule for Vegas:

Friday, July 9            Denver         3:00 PM     COX Pavilion

Saturday, July 10     Houston        9:00 PM     COX Pavilion

Monday, July 12       Milwaukee    7:00 PM     COX Pavilion

Thursday, July 15     Washington  7:00 PM     COX Pavilion

Sunday, July 18         Sacramento  7:00 PM     COX Pavilion

Luckily for you, all of the games will be broadcast live locally on TXA21. Plus, I plan on being in Vegas for the first three games on the Mavs’ slate, so look forward to some in-depth content on Beaubois’ progress, the Mavs’ draft pick, and the rest of the summer league crew.