Adventures in Summer Leaguing, Volume V

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 21, 2010 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

In lieu of a delayed recap of the Mavs final game at the Vegas Summer League, I’ve opted for a player-by-player review based on their exploits. If you’ve come in search of some analysis of Moussa Seck that’s probably more serious than it should be, actual praise for Mouhammad Faye, or a first look at Ian Mahinmi, you’ve come to the right place.

Rodrigue Beaubois: Experience is important, but Beaubois didn’t demonstrate much growth in terms of running the point. He had his moments — a read here, a read there — but this was not a particularly successful trip for Rodrigue. However, Beaubois did show off his pull-up game a bit, something he didn’t do with much frequency last season with the Mavs. Granted, he didn’t have much of a chance; pull-up threes are the kind of shots Beaubois is able to take in Summer League, but probably shouldn’t be taking with the actual team. There are better shots to be had when playing with Dirk Nowitzki et al. Aside from that wrinkle, Beaubois played off the ball a bit too much and didn’t blow me away as a traditional point guard prospect. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s worth noting.

Dominique Jones: Dominique Jones isn’t quite a bull in a china shop — he stands just 6’5”, after all — but at the very least he’s a Tasmanian devil in a Pottery Barn. It’ll be nice to see if Jones can get to the basket (and to the free throw line) consistently against bigger and badder NBA regulars, but he passed his first exam in that course with flying colors. Jones isn’t a particularly versatile scorer just yet, but his driving abilities are sealed and ready for NBA use. He has a quick first step. He’s incredibly strong. He can drive in both directions, finish with contact, and attack the basket in a variety of ways. Jones may seem like a black hole at times, but he’s not an unwilling passer. He’ll find his teammates, but there’s no question that his offensive focus is to score as frequently as possible, regardless of who’s defending him.

However, as I mentioned in my game-by-game recaps, Jones was just as excellent defensively. It’s still very early, but Dominique looks like a player that could be defensively viable at both guard positions, and his tenacity on that end is beyond impressive. His technique still needs work, and he needs to continue to develop to become a better team defender. However, Jones looked remarkable in showcasing his one-on-one defensive abilities (staying in front of his man, bodying up, contesting shots, etc.).

Jeremy Lin: It’s not easy to walk into a gym where every unheralded prospect is looking to make a name for themselves and do just that, yet Lin earned himself an NBA contract on the strength of his play at Summer League. Jeremy has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Golden State Warriors, which is pretty remarkable considering the Mavs were Lin’s only Summer League invite.

Lin surprised a lot of people with his ability to keep pace athletically, which was thought to be one of his bigger weaknesses coming into Summer League. It looked like a non-issue, even as Lin was asked to check John Wall. Jeremy looked strong in the open court, but he also impressed with his vision and decision-making in half-court sets. I don’t know of Lin will ever have the talent necessary to be a full-time starting point, but it’s not hard to imagine him providing scoring and playmaking off the bench in a regular capacity.

Jeremy Lin’s journey in Vegas was a gradual unveiling. Initially, he showed an ability to make simple, effective passes and finish in the lane over NBA shot-blockers. Then came a surprising diversity in his drives and moves to the rim, which is essential for long-term success on the perimeter in the NBA. Lin also added a few threes for good measure, giving team officials reason to hesitate before inking his jumper as a weakness on the scouting report. Finally, Lin really showcased his defensive abilities by pressuring ball-handlers and attacking the passing lanes. He’s hardly a finished product, but Lin can do a bit of everything.

Omar Samhan: Dexter Pittman may be a rotation player for the Miami Heat this season, but Omar Samhan couldn’t even secure a spot on an NBA roster. This makes very little sense. Though Pittman is probably the more intriguing athletic specimen (buried underneath his robust exterior is a definite NBA athlete), he clearly doesn’t have the proper understanding of how to use his size to his advantage. Samhan does. Neither player is in optimal NBA shape, but if we’re looking at which prospect has a better understanding of mechanics, spacing, and talent utilization? There’s no debate. Samhan works his way into the low post to drop a baby hook, while Pittman spins and elbows his way into an offensive foul.

Pittman is just one of many. With so many raw center prospects in the NBA that never find actualization, it’s a shame that players like Samhan can’t even get their foot in the door. Omar is a very poor defender if pulled out to the perimeter, not a sure thing in the post against real NBA bigs, and would have his minutes capped by poor conditioning. Still, he was able to score and rebound well against some of the better centers Summer League had to offer, which has to count for something.

For some reason or another, it’s acceptable for a wing player to be an intriguing, one-dimensional scoring talent, but blasphemous for a center or power forward to do the same. Samhan may not be a great NBA rebounder or defender, but would there really be anything so wrong with getting a few free offensive possessions out of him in the low post?

Ian Mahinmi: Ian had an abbreviated Summer League run, but he showed glimpses of what we can expect next season. Mahinmi rebounded very well in fairly limited minutes, and while he wasn’t a dominant offensive force in any particular game, he showed off a few skills that should be helpful in real NBA games. He has a nice mid-range jumper that can keep defenses honest. Mahinmi looks quicker on his feet than any other Maverick big. He’s not afraid to offer help from the weak side. Mahinmi isn’t the strongest finisher, but at least in Summer League he was able to go up strong and draw fouls.

Mahinmi will frustrate some fans with the holes in his game, but provided we stay focused on what he can do (come on, he’s the third center on the roster, after all) rather than what he can’t, I think it’ll be very clear how cool it is to have a guy like this on the team as an insurance policy.

Mouhammad Faye: While Mouhammad Faye didn’t quite have a Jeremy Lin-style explosion, I feel he played pretty well in Vegas. Faye will never be an impact player offensively. His influence on that end will always be strictly complementary, which means that the most important skills he can showcase are the ability to hit open jumpers and finish freebies at the rim. He did both. Faye’s defense could possibly get him a chance with an NBA team some day, as he’s both well-equipped (Faye is listed at 6’9”, but has Stretch Armstrong limbs) and hard-working. It’s very, very difficult to gauge defensive success in the Summer League because of how sensitive those skills translate to a 5-on-5 game with more experienced opponents. Moving from Vegas to the NBA regular season won’t make a made three rim out. It won’t make a smart pass into the wrong move. But a successful individual defender in Summer League could end up flubbing when forced to be part of something more.

For now, that’s where Faye is. He needs three-point range before he’s given a serious NBA shot anyway, but he also needs to prove that he can operate effectively as a team defender. That’s exactly what he’d be able to do in the D-League, if the Mavs choose to make him a part of the Texas Legends’ inaugural run.

Faye is already 25. He’s not going to overhaul his game by the time his career is through. Still, based on the strength he’s shown as a defender, he could be an interesting guy to have on the wing. Faye really needs to bulk up if he’s going to play as a combo forward (he’s a bit slight even to guard NBA 3s at the moment), but he has the makings of a pretty impressive NBA defender.

Shan Foster: Shan Foster is the mythical three-point shooter who can’t shoot. Foster shot 46.9% from three during his last season at Vanderbilt, but he just doesn’t look all that comfortable spotting up at the NBA three-point line. He shot just 25% from beyond the arc in Vegas, and that’s not even close to what it would take to secure Foster a spot on an NBA roster. He’s not a bad defender, but Shan really doesn’t do much offensively except shoot. I wouldn’t call him a black hole, but he certainly doesn’t make plays. He doesn’t drive. He doesn’t post up. He spots up frequently, and misses far more than he should.

J.R. Giddens: I just don’t see it. Giddens plays hard, but he doesn’t seem to have a particularly good grasp of where to be on the court. One could appreciate him solely for his hustle, but too often is he forced to rely on it based on his own mistakes. He seems like a pretty decent positional rebounder, but considering Giddens really failed to show any standout NBA skills aside from his athleticism, I’m not sure he’s cut from the NBA mold. A good player, but unfortunately he just doesn’t seem good enough.

Moussa Seck: Ever the project, Seck’s height is undeniably attractive in an NBA setting, but he has a long way to go before he’s ready to use it. Not only did Seck really only shine offensively when putting in an easy dunk, but his body needs a lot of work before he’s NBA ready.

Consider Yao Ming. The guy is built like a tree, and even with the amount of upper and lower body work he’s done throughout his career, he still has trouble staying healthy. Such is the life of the league’s giants, who have the principles of physics working against them.

Seck could benefit a lot — particularly in the strength and conditioning departments — from playing in the D next season, and I have a sneaking suspicion we may see him in Frisco. But until he puts in the work to make his body NBA-ready, he’s not worth having a particularly serious discussion about. I will say this: Seck may not be all that mobile, but he can surprise people as a shot-blocker for pretty obvious reasons. If Seck could ever bulk up enough to at least put up a fight on the glass, he could find enough minutes to be a difference-maker on the defensive end. Teams simply have to account for him when he’s on the floor, even if Seck lacks a natural feel for the flow of the game.

DeShawn Sims: I was a bit more impressed with Sims’ play in the Orlando Summer League than I was with his performance in Vegas. Sims is a tad small for a natural 4, and his largely face-up game only reinforces that fact. He’s not a great rebounder, but it’s not for lack of effort; Sims puts in the work on the boards, he’s just not all that tall, strong, or athletic. He could be worth an extended look, but Sims doesn’t seem like the kind of talent that would take the jump from Summer League to the NBA all that well.

Amara Sy: Strong, but awkward. Aside from the occasional bizarrely soft jumper, Sy really didn’t look like a basketball player. He got a bucket now and again, but I’m not exactly sure what it is that he’s supposed to do on the court. He’s not a good rebounder (though he really should be, given his strength and athleticism), doesn’t have much touch around the rim at all, and isn’t more than a passable NBA player. Sy seems like a lock to continue in the D-League for a spell before floating back across the Atlantic.

Josh Mayo: Pretty quick, but doesn’t have the blinding speed necessary to make a difference as a 6-foot-flat point guard in the NBA. Mayo didn’t have much of a chance to display his talents behind Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, and Jeremy Lin, but he also played incredibly pedestrian basketball when he did make it to the floor.

Eric Tramiel: If he ends up in Frisco, it will be solely as a ticket draw (Tramiel came out of UNT, which is about a 30 minute drive from the Legends’ new home). Tramiel didn’t play badly per se, but his defense — while competent — wasn’t impressive to make up for his no-show offensively. It’s tough for guys in Tramiel’s position to impress NBA scouts, but there are also reasons why players of his ilk struggle to even find PT in Summer League.

Darryl Watkins: Big body. Not horrible. Disappears, both on the court and from the Summer League roster.

Adventures in Summer Leaguing, Volume III

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 14, 2010 under xOther | 7 Comments to Read

  • Mouhammad Faye continues to impress me. He seems a very likely candidate to end up in Frisco next season, and Faye could conceivably grow into a defensive-minded, reserve 3 for the Mavs down the line. His length is already paying dividends, but for now he’s far too lean to be an effective defender against NBA forwards.
  • Moussa Seck has officially developed a cult following. His status as a Summer League novelty was cemented by his string of impact plays in the first half against the Bucks, and the good news is that all of his plays should be replicable. He didn’t luck into a few skyhooks, he simply contested shots on defense, ran at the rim while looking for the feed on offense, and worked hard to rebound. Nothing special, but good progress for Seck.
  • Amara Sy hit a step-back 20-footer. What?
  • Not only does Seck have roughly the same waist size as Rodrigue Beaubois, but he’s also by far the slowest player on the team. To call him ‘lumbering’ doesn’t say the half of it. He’s also not very quick off his feet, which makes him pretty vulnerable defensively, even with his absurd height and length.
  • Jeremy Lin hasn’t demonstrated an ability to execute more difficult drives, but he can definitely finish after contact. Lin had one of the most impressive finishes of the Summer League thus far on an and one over first rounder Larry Sanders.
  • Omar Samhan has had some strong showings, but he’s not great at protecting the rim. Just doesn’t have the athleticism for it. He’s a pretty decent post defender though, and that’s where his size and strength really give him an edge.
  • Good for North Texas product Eric Tramiel, who was able to make the Mavs’ Summer League roster. Unfortunately, this is where the road ends for him. Just doesn’t look the part of an NBA player. Tramiel holds his own on the defensive end, but he’s definitely a limited offensive player, even at this level.
  • Clarification: Dominique Jones’ jumper is shaky, but it’s actually not too shabby within the free throw line extended. It’s when Jones steps outside that his touch starts to go.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois has been picking up a ton of fouls, but he did make up for a pretty inconsistent game by nailing a game-winner in overtime. All’s well that ends well?

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 6, 2010 under Rumors | Be the First to Comment

  • In ESPN’s Ultimate Team Standings (Insider), the Mavs came in as the 24th best franchise in all of professional sports. The only NBA orgs that rank ahead of Dallas are San Antonio, Orlando, and Cleveland. Not too shabby, Mark. Here’s the blurb: “…it’s easy to understand why owner Mark Cuban is appreciated by the Mavs faithful. Yes, the retooled Mavs — with recently acquired Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood — fizzled in a first-round exit, but the effort (and salary absorbed) can’t be faulted. In the meantime, the Mavs lowered their average ticket price by 7.5% (the highest slash by any team with a winning record last season) and offered a $59 Dr Pepper Family Night package, with tickets and food for four. Plus, as Cuban says, “we probably spend more on in-game video production than any team in the world.” It’s no surprise, then, that American Airlines Center was tops in the NBA for Stadium Experience, or that yet another early summer vacation hasn’t soured Mavs loyalists.”
  • Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside goes through the the Mavs’ Summer League roster to better acquaint us with some of the relative unknowns. No Beaubois or DoJo here, just intros into the Eric Tramiels of the world.
  • Bad luck for Shawn Marion.
  • Dirk Nowitzki on free agency (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “Obviously, a couple teams were interested,” he said. “But it never really got to the point where I was ready to listen. My heart’s here. To go through the whole process that everybody’s going through, I don’t like that. It was just weird. And to have two-hour presentations when I know I’m not really interested. I didn’t see any sense in that. It didn’t really get that far…When it was all said and done, to me, I feel like I started this thing here and after 12 years now, I feel like I got unfinished business here. I just wanted to not run away from something that’s right there. I met with Cuban, and he said: ‘You know we’re all in this together.’..And he’s right. We started this and it wouldn’t even feel right to go somewhere else and chase something that nobody can promise me.”
  • Dan Feldman analyzed Brendan Haywood’s game as part of his free agency coverage over at Piston Powered, and asked me to chip in with a breakdown of Haywood. Check it out for more reasons why Dallas really needs to hold on to Brendan.
  • Tough break for Dirk: the world’s most famous psychic octopus picked Spain to win out over Germany in the World Cup semi-finals.

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.

Heard It Through the Weekend Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 27, 2010 under xOther | 2 Comments to Read

  • The Mavs were able to sell their second round pick to the Raptors because of Toronto’s interest in Solomon Alabi. Interestingly, he may only have slipped to No. 50 because of a health concern, a rather serious one in fact: Hepatitis B.
  • Another player out of the running for the Mavs’ summer league team: Charles Garcia, who will be suiting up (supposing that wearing a practice jersey really qualifies as “suiting up”) for the Knicks.
  • Donnie Nelson with a dose of realism on Dominique Jones (via Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas): “”How many rookies are going to be impact guys? Not many. The rookies that make an impact generally are on bad teams, right? So, for us to expect him to walk into significant minutes, it’s not fair to him and he’s got a bunch of really good players playing in front of him. But, I think what it does is it gives us a foundation in the backcourt for a future. You’ve got Roddy and you’ve got some building blocks that you can get excited about internally.”
  • SMU’s Mouhammad Faye, Oklahoma’s Tony Crocker, and North Texas’ Eric Tramiel will be among those brought in for the Mavs’ pre-Summer League mini-camp.
  • LeBron James is set to meet with representatives from six teams to determine his future: the Cavs, Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Bulls, and Heat. Notice any teams missing in there?

UPDATE (2:58 PM CST):