Phoenix Suns 95, Dallas Mavericks 90
While wins in Vegas Summer League are the NBA equivalent of funny money, the minutes played are not without consequence.
For one, this is real, NBA basketball. It’s not played in big arenas or with the brightest stars, but these are representatives of real NBA teams playing other potential competitors with the NBA logo on their unis. It’s damn sloppy and a huge step down talent-wise from what we see in the NBA, but it’s not a bad meet-and-greet for players and the fans. It lets us get a decent first look at the Mavs’ draftees, and proves that Nathan Jawai(bberwocky) is, in fact, a real person.
But basketball wouldn’t be basketball without the harsh reality of injuries. Rodrigue Beaubois was treated first-hand to that experience last night, as he suffered a left knee contusion in the waning moments of the game. It’s apparently nothing serious, and Beaubois isn’t expected to miss any Summer League time. Whew.
But even when Beaubois’ wasn’t making headlines (well, let’s be honest: footnotes) with his injury, he was catching plenty of eyes. So far we’ve seen three very different games from Roddy. Game one was an adventure, to put it kindly; Beaubois clearly needed time to feel his way into NBA basketball. Game two was a demonstration, a Beaubois-led clinic exploring what he could develop into as a point guard. Game three was an organic, yet controlled attempt by Rodrigue to show his skills as a point guard. Three very different looks, two of which are very promising. Strong play in Summer League is hardly indicative of future success, but Beaubois has the look of a stud. He knows his way around a basketball court, and even it takes him a few years to fully grasp everything going on around him, his instincts and natural talents are pretty swell.
Rick Carlisle came on the broadcast for awhile to talk about a variety of the topics, Ahmad Nivins among them. Rick gave the usual “WE COULDN’T BELIEVE HOW FAR HE FELL, I MEAN, HE WAS OUR GUY ALL ALONG!” speech, which I’d usually dismiss as lip service. But after watching more of Nivins in real game action, I would be incredibly disappointed if he wasn’t on the Mavs’ opening day roster. There are clearly some holes in his game, but I’m still waiting for the reason this guy was a second round pick. Nivins is fundamentally sound, he has some range, and he’s a solid defender (at this level, anyway). While it’s difficult to say just how well he’d perform against the big boys, he could really help provide some depth at the 4.
Nathan Jawai had some serious troubles. Even when executing the most basic of post moves, Jawai seemed to be in slow motion and often came up short. Having Robin Lopez on you doesn’t help, but from his single performance in a Maverick uniform, I see no reason for optimism. One point (0-5 FG), five rebounds, six fouls, and still one sweet nickname for the Jawaibberwocky. Give me Ryan Hollins, or give me death!
Shan Foster’s shooting finally came around, but even in his most impressive effort yet, he was decidedly mortal. The Mavs will be waiting a long time if they expect Foster to develop into a useful player; For now, he clearly needs the ball in his hands to be effective at all, and even in that capacity he’s no particularly good at anything aside from shooting. Consider Foster’s stroke isn’t pure enough to be counted on night-in and night-out, that doesn’t bode well for his NBA prospects.
The other notable names remain the same, but no one has stood out in a way that would command your attention. It’s become abundantly clear to me that Luke Jackson’s only role in the NBA would be as a spot-up shooter, but his defense would likely limit his effectiveness. Mickael Gelabale works really hard on the basketball court, but probably shouldn’t be anything more than a third-string wing player. Aaron Miles had his best game of the SL, and yet I still can’t convince myself that he’s an NBA player. Instinctively, my eyes turn to Beaubois and Nivins on the court, and there’s a reason for that. Not only are they the Mavs’ draft picks this season and hope for the future, but they remain the only players on the Mavs’ summer league roster capable of holding your attention.