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Steve "Sparky" Fifer

Sparky's NBA Summer League Review

Below is my take from the games I watched between Monday, July 16th and Thursday, July 20th.

Atlanta Hawks

Keith Benson- F/C- 6’11”- I was impressed from what I saw a year ago. He seems more comfortable around the rim and looks like he belongs now.

John Jenkins-SG-6/4”- A Hawks first round pick, Jenkins was known for his shooting  but displayed quickness that many
didn’t anticipate. I didn’t have a huge opinion on Jenkins coming out of school but I really liked what I saw in Vegas.

Jordan Taylor-G-6’1”- While you hope he can make a roster, I think it will be difficult because of his lack of quickness. His basketball IQ is very high but will it be enough to earn him a spot in the NBA?

Derrick Caracter- F-6’9”- Liked him coming out of college but based on what I saw, it appears he’s headed back to the D-League. If I was his agent, I’d work on getting him in better shape.

Boston Celtics

Jared Sullinger-F-6’9”- He looked like a senior playing against underclassmen. I didn’t see any signs of his back being an issue. You really couldn’t see the full impact of what he will be as the summer league games don’t believe in post play.

Fab Melo-C-7’0”- He needs some of Jordan Taylor’s basketball IQ. Melo looked lost a majority of the time I watched him. He has the physical tools but will his brain be able to keep up with the complexities of the NBA?

Charlotte Bobcats

Byron Mullens-C-7’0”- While us Bucks fans have seen him have success, I think most are starting to believe that he might end up being the player that some thought coming out of Ohio St. While the horrible season by the Bobcats didn’t net Anthony Davis, it did net an invaluable amount of experience for Mullens.

Kemba Walker-G-6’1”- He appears to be a huge disappointment. I’m not sure he can even be a Ben Gordon type player in this league. His shot remains inconsistent and his ability to make the right pass remains non-existent.

Chicago Bulls

Marquis Teague-PG-6’2”-He’s a solid PG. Teague didn’t make any glaring mistakes. Not an all-star guard but a solid one.

Leon Powe-PF-6’8”- Why again was he there? I tend to believe if you are a vet then you better play like  one against a bunch of 1st and 2nd year players.  He didn’t stand out at all, other than trying to start crap with opposing players.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Tristan Thompson-PF-6’9”- I was really impressed by how he really dominated at times in the paint. This is another example like Mullens, of a guy who took advantage of the increased minutes given to him by a bad team. He could be a breakout player in 2012.

Dion Waiters-G-6’3”- Wasn’t really good but displayed his quick first step and ability to blow by people. He showed toughness when driving the lane and finishing around the rim. His shot leaves a lot to be desired but he doesn’t need his jumper to score.  It was interesting that while he didn’t start at Syracuse, he didn’t even start on his summer league team.

Dallas Mavericks

Jae Crowder-F-6’6”- Really liked what I saw from him. One scout asked “What do they do to those at kids at Marquette? They’re all really tough, scrappy type of guys.”  Crowder isn’t a special player but he can hit the three, provide some solid defense, and provide a spark of energy when he’s on the floor.

Dominique Jones-SG-6’5”- I had high hopes for Jones coming out of South Florida a couple of years ago but it doesn’t appear he has improved in any area. The other issue with him is he thinks he is much then he actually is which results in bulk shooting with a low field goal percentage.

David Harrison-C-7’0”- For a guy with four years of experience, you would expect more then what I saw. He’s a seven foot five year old with the way he acts on seemingly every possession. Body language is something that as a young player you expect not to be the best but with maturity it should get better. I’d argue he’s actually gotten worse as he’s gotten older.

Denver Nuggets

Evan Fournier-G/F-6’7”- Didn’t see the Nuggets but once however a guy that people like a bunch is Evan Fournier from France. The people that saw him play told me that they think he could be a real nice piece for a championship caliber team in the next few years.

Solomon Alabi-C-7’1”- Torn meniscus took out early on and being a free agent probably cost him a chance to be on a roster this season. One other note, these Florida State guys are real tight with one another. I’d say Marquette and them were the two schools that really supported each other the best.

Golden State Warriors

Charles Jenkins-PG-6’3”- He showed flashes of greatness that got people really excited. However, he still needs to play under a little more often but I like what I saw. Considering Stephen Curry will probably not the be the future point guard for Golden State, Jenkins needs to make the most of his opportunities to show he can be that guy.

Harrison Barnes-F-6’8”-He played well in his first game which I didn’t see as I was still in Milwaukee but was very underwhelming after that. Golden State people are impressed by how explosive he has shown he can be in practice. I on the other hand didn’t see it translate to game situations.

Houston Rockets

Royce White-F-6’8”- Prior to the draft many suggested to us on the Wendy’s Big Show that the Bucks should target White with their draft selection. I was opposed to it, but let me say that I came away impressed with what I saw. His maturity level is that of a veteran and court vision is that of a point guard. I knew had a knack for passing but his understanding of everything going on around him really makes him dangerous. White also appeared more physical when banging inside then I thought. Leon Powe got into it with him and he stood his ground and didn’t get sucked into Powe’s antics.

Jeremy Lamb-SG-6’5”- In person, you really appreciate how long he truly is. His wingspan will help him to become a really good defender, that if he wants to put in the time to do so. Silky smooth player but I have to say there is something about him that bugs me. I think it’s maybe his demeanor or the fact that he really wasn’t talking with any of his teammates. Either way, I’m sure I’m just reading into stuff.

Terrence Jones-F-6’9”-He fell down the board on draft night to Houston and the Rockets appear to have a guy who has the knack for knowing when and where to be. Jones is a solid player. I heard an interesting tidbit that the Rockets were apparently drafting Jones for another team to trade him but were told by the other team that in fact Jones wasn’t their guy like the Rockets had thought. That mistake might prove to be a stroke of good luck.

Scott Machado-PG- 6’1”- Not sure if he can be a starting point guard in this league but I see no reason why he can’t be a nice option off the bench. Machado shows he can get good penetration and has the ability to kick in traffic to the open player. Those qualities should find him a spot on somebody’s roster by the end of the season.

Marcus Morris-F-6’9”- Having a brother like I do I know brothers can be very different. In this case, the Rockets have the wrong Morris on their team. Totally non-existent in the time I saw him.

Los Angeles Clippers

-Didn’t see them play-

Los Angeles Lakers

Darius Morris-PG-6’5”- There were questions coming out of Michigan if he could play the point. I’m pretty sure he proved that he is more than capable of creating for others and makes smart decisions when running the offense. He didn’t shoot well early but got better as the games went on. I like him.

Darius Johnson-Odom-G-6’3”- He was simply bad. I’m pretty confident in saying he couldn’t have played worse than he did. The D-League is in his future. He must work better at getting teammates involved and understanding the difference between a good shot and a bad shot.

Memphis Grizzlies  

-Didn’t see them play-

Miami Heat

Norris Cole-PG-6’2”- Looked like a guy that was in the NBA already. Looked like a guy who understood how to run an offense and when he needed to be the guy to score. I believe he can be a solid point guard if given the chance to do it.

Dexter Pittman-PF-6’11”-He has the body of Packers rookie DT Jerel Worthy more than of an NBA player. I think he needs to lose some weight and get some quickness. I didn’t hear anybody being impressed by him.

Milwaukee Bucks

Tobias Harris-SF-6’8”- He played at a different level then everybody else. His offense is good enough to be starting for the Bucks, but will his lackadaisical defense keep him on the bench?

John Henson-PF-6’11”- His energy makes up for his lack of weight. His one post move that he showed was a lefty hook while he shot his mid-range jumper with his right hand. Henson needs another move in the post and he’ll need to show that he can face up bigger defenders and drive past them. His jumper was short most of the time hitting the front of the rim, which might have been due to weak legs from illness/amount of minutes he was getting.

Doron Lamb- SG-6’4”- He is your new 6th man of the future. Lamb will be a shooter that can come off the bench and provide some offense. He reminds me of a better version of Jodie Meeks.

Jarrid Famous-PF-6’11’- The South Florida product impressed in his Summer League time he was given and did virtually everything right. He’s a technically sound ball player that will help a team. It’s just not going to be the Bucks who are stacked at the power forward position already. I don’t believe he is thick enough to play the center position.

Larry Sanders-PF-6’11”- My patience is running thin with him taking jumpers when he might be one of the ten worst shooters in the league. Horrible decision maker with the ball (did make one nice pass). His role should that of Dalembert, shot blocker and rebounder with an occasional dunk. Once he knows his role and accepts it, the better off the Bucks and Sanders will be.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Kammron Taylor-PG-6’2”- I really like what I saw from the former Badgers guard who has been playing in Ukraine. He’s in real good shape and ran the team well. Taylor is probably bound to be overseas for his career but a nice player.

Wes Johnson-G/F-6’7”- Yet again another guy who needs to work on being more physical and getting quicker off the dribble. He is so stiff for a shooting guard. I didn’t see any difference in him from the regular season until present.
Derrick Williams-F-6’8”- He shouldn’t be in the Vegas Summer League. When you go as high as he did in the draft and do as little as he did really makes you wonder. One personal guy said he is just a ballplayer rather than a small forward or a power forward by definition. I tend to have visions of Marcus Fizer while watching him play.

New Orleans Hornets

Austin Rivers-G-6’4”- He looked overwhelmed from one of the Summer League. Rivers didn’t play toward the end because of what the Hornets deemed as leg soreness. There really wasn’t much of anything good about what I saw of out him. There were questions on him if he could play point guard at the next level, I don’t have the answer for that just yet be couldn’t even score in Vegas. He may regret leaving Duke after just one year.

Xavier Henry-G-6’6”- Put a fork in him, he’s done. I wish I knew why he seemingly has never taken the next step. He has lots of talent but can’t figure out how to use it.

New York Knicks

Nobody stood out

Phoenix Suns

Markieff Morris-F-6’10”- He was simply dominant. Morris looked like a future all-star at times while playing in Las Vegas. If he brings the effort every night like he did during the Summer League, watch out!

Diante Garrett- G-6’4”- I thought he represented himself quite nicely in Vegas. I’m not sure if he is an NBA player but certainly can get a job overseas for a number of years.

Kendall Marshall-PG-6’4”- The first game I saw him was the single worst point guard performance I can remember watching. He didn’t do a single thing right. The second game he improved but still not to the level expected by me when having watched him play at UNC.

Patrick O’Bryant-C-7’0”- Whoever pays this guy to play basketball should have their head examined. He’s simply not very good. He did have a beautiful female companion.

Portland Trailblazers

Damian Lillard-PG-6’3”- He was the most impressive player during the time I was there. Lillard displays Iverson like quickness with a great ability to finish around the rim after having been fouled. He’s got Russell Westbrook like explosion. His leaping ability allows him to hang for seemingly ever before hanging to fire up a shot in traffic. Lillard showed good court vision while making a couple great passes to guys cutting baseline.

Will Barton-SG-6’6”- While the spotlight was on Lillard, Barton did his job by hitting open jumpers when they were available. The backcourt of Lillard/Barton could be a scary proposition for defenses for years to come.

Luke Babbitt-F-6’9”/ Jon Diebler-G-6’6”- Both of these players couldn’t hit a jumper if their life depended on it in Vegas. Babbitt is simply not at the level needed to be worth where he was drafted a couple of years ago. I will say it, Luke Babbitt equals bust!

 Sacramento Kings

Jimmer Fredette-G-6’2”- He showed his shooting touch that had people drooling when he came out of BYU. Fredette needs to be utilized properly as a spot up shooter and nothing more then that.

Thomas Robinson-PF-6’9”- He himself admitted to playing bad, citing that the only thing he did well was pass the basketball. Clearly the Kings weren’t envisioning what they got from Robinson in Vegas and can only hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. I don’t believe he’s as bad as he played.

San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard-SF-6’7”- This is another guy who simply was dominant when he wanted to be. He’s a very good basketball player that most of the league missed on, during draft day last year.
Advantage: Spurs

James Anderson-SG-6’6”- The more you watch younger players come into the NBA the more you realize how difficult it is to forecast just how good they might be at the next level. Anderson is one who I clearly missed on. He is very underwhelming when you simply watch him from play to play.

Toronto Raptors

Terrence Ross-SG-6’7”- My guy! He didn’t disappoint in Vegas by putting on a clinic when he had the ball. Ross isn’t a dynamic guard like Lillard of Portland but probably is better than Landry Fields on offense already. If I was DeMar DeRozan, I wouldn’t be getting too comfy in Toronto.

Ben Uzoh-PG-6’2”- He played well in the Orlando Summer League and he was good in Las Vegas. He’s deserving of a bench spot somewhere in the NBA.

Daniel Orton-C-6’10”- A message from me to Mr. Orton: If you don’t want to play NBA basketball and you don’t want to commit yourself to the game then maybe you should just quit! It’s an insult to see this guy on the floor and think that somebody is paying their hard earned money to watch this out of shape kid go through the motions.

Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal-SG-6’5”- He was a solid performer. Beal displayed his ability to be an intimidating and tough defender. I will say that he didn’t exhibit that special quality I was looking for on the offensive end.
Thomas Satoransky-SG-6’7”- A player out of the Czech Republic that looks to be a young athletic wing player that will serve the Wizards well in the future. He can shoot the rock, while still being able to put the ball on the floor and not embarrass himself. There is still question of whether he will play in the league this year or return overseas.

07/22/2012 7:05PM
Sparky's NBA Summer League Review
Please Enter Your Comments Below
07/22/2012 10:48PM
Good stuff!
Great notes, Sparky. Really enjoyed this.
07/23/2012 8:46AM
Nice review. Thanks!
07/24/2012 12:32PM
Thank you
There's a lot of good info here. I appreciate you putting it all together.
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