7 Takeaways from Monday's NBA Summer League Action in Las Vegas
Day four of the NBA's annual trip to Sin City yielded no shortage of highlight plays, miscues, gaudy point totals and some atrocious shooting lines.
In other words, Monday's seven-game offering was pure Summer League bliss.
I'll save you from any major spoiler alerts here, but I will pass on a few teasers.
The Minnesota Timberwolves got a scoring boost from an inspirational source. The Zeller family didn't have the most productive outing among all the brother tandems in Las Vegas, although that wasn't from a lack of effort. Vegas also hosted the latest round of the fight for Los Angeles between the Lakers and Clippers.
It wasn't always pretty, but then the again the best Vegas stories rarely are.
Here's everything you need to know about Monday's NBA Summer League action.
It's a Good Day to Be a Morris Twin
Reunited last season by one of many cost-cutting moves by the Houston Rockets, twins Marcus and Markieff Morris put their collective paws all over the Phoenix Suns' 91-89 win over the Timberwolves.
Markieff didn't waste time separating himself from his interior counterparts. He cut through Minnesota's middle, tallying a game-best 22 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), six boards, one block and one steal.
Whether spurred by sibling rivalry or just the support of his coaches, Marcus looked to match his twin stat for stat. If not for a rough 5-of-14 shooting night, he could've buried his brother's productive night in the box score.
Instead, Marcus "settled" for 18 points, four boards (three on the offensive end) and three steals.
Oh, and he drilled the game-winning jumper from one step inside the arc as time expired.
I wouldn't expect either twin admit that the other had the better night, but I doubt the outcome of that argument would matter much to an appreciative Suns' fanbase.
If at First You Don't Succeed...
The Charlotte Bobcats may have an entirely different view of team owner Michael Jordan than the rest of the basketball world.
After all, the G.O.A.T. on the floor hasn't had the smoothest transition away from it.
So when Jordan's team snagged Indiana's Cody Zeller with the fourth pick of the 2013 draft, the move was met largely by cautious optimism. Well that or whatever you would call this.
The reaction was understandable, even if grossly premature (aren't all immediate draft reactions?). After all, the Bobcats haven't exactly been the model NBA franchise since MJ purchased the team in 2010.
But Jordan may have found something in the former Hoosier.
After a quiet eight-point debut, Zeller has produced a pair of resounding double-doubles since. He had 21 points and 13 rebounds on Sunday, then added 18 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and 10 boards in Charlotte's 84-71 drubbing of the New York Knicks on Monday.
Zeller still needs to tweak his offensive post game, but his soft hands, high motor and silky midrange stroke all bode well for his ability to play in this league.
Well done, Mr. Jordan.
Spurs Selfless Even in Summertime
Through their first two games of the Summer League, the San Antonio Spurs didn't have a hard time figuring who was their best player.
Cory Joseph, a two-year veteran, masterfully transitioned between scoring and distributing duties, all while setting the tempo on the defensive end.
In Monday's 96-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Joseph relinquished his hold on the spotlight and let some of his other teammates have their moments under the bright lights.
Nando De Colo and Aron Baynes didn't waste this opportunity.
De Colo looked like he'd been paying attention to Tony Parker's postseason dominance, ripping off a Parker-esque 19 points (on 8-of-12 shooting) and a game-high eight assists (against one turnover). Baynes played the role of Tim Duncan, sealing off the glass (15 rebounds) and tossing in his 19 points by calmly converting on timely feeds and creating his own looks with fancy footwork near the basket.
To keep these comparisons flowing (or perhaps beat them to death), that would put Deshaun Thomas in Manu Ginobili's shoes and Hollis Thompson playing the part of Kawhi Leonard. In certain areas they handled their parts well. Thomas gave the Spurs a third scoring option (17 points), while Thompson relentlessly attacked the glass (11 rebounds, including seven offensive).
Joseph had a quiet five-point night (1-of-5 from the field), but San Antonio's success is never measured on an individual scale.
Need evidence of that fact? The Spurs assisted on nearly 70 percent (27 of 39) of their field goals—a staggering accomplishment in the me-first summer league world—while the Hawks assisted on just 11 of their 26 makes (42.3 percent).
Atlanta's Mike Scott led the Hawks with 27 points, including a perfect 13-of-13 shooting display at the free-throw line.
Andrew Goudelock, Malcolm Thomas Lead Bulls' Charge
The Chicago Bulls knew they'd found something in Malcolm Thomas last summer.
A Vegas All-Star in 2012, Thomas couldn't crack Chicago's stacked frontcourt when the games really mattered and floated out of the Bulls' grasp. After a five-game stint with the Golden State Warriors, Thomas came back to Chicago on a 10-day contract in March and parlayed that into a permanent roster spot for the remainder of the year.
He's either giving the Bulls another tough decision to make down the line or perhaps making it a very simple call.
During the Bulls' 93-81 win over the Denver Nuggets, Thomas needed less than 35 minutes to track down a NBA Summer League-record 22 rebounds (10 of which came on the offensive end). He added 13 points, two blocks and a steal to his impressive line.
Incredibly he'll be fighting for top billing in the game recaps, though.
Andrew Goudelock (who spent the last two seasons shuttling between the Los Angeles Lakers and the D-League) poured in 31 points on a blistering shooting display. He shot 10-of-13 from the field, 5-of-6 from downtown and a perfect 6-of-6 at the foul line.
Marquis Teague, Chicago's first-round pick in 2012, finished with 15 points, seven assists and four turnovers. Tony Snell, drafted 20th overall by Chicago last month, contributed with 11 points and five boards, while Chicago's second-round pick Erik Murphy (49th overall) chipped in with 18 points and hit 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Warriors Going Green
With 79 games of regular-season experience and 12 postseason games already under his belt, Golden State Warriors sophomore Draymond Green still might not have a position.
But the next person in Warriors' world that cares about his position designation will be the first.
The guy's simply a basketball player, someone who makes things happen from anywhere on the floor.
Defensively he'll bang on the low block or move out on the perimeter to stop dribble penetration. Offensively he keeps things flowing, can generate points inside and bullies over smaller defenders on his way to the rim.
In Golden State's 80-66 win over the Sacramento Kings, Green did a little of everything.
He took smart shots (5-of-9 from the field) and strengthened his team-best 18 points with an aggressive approach that earned him eight trips to the free-throw line, all of which he converted. He added four rebounds, two assists and a steal in less than 29 minutes.
Kent Bazemore chipped in with 15 points, six boards and five assists, while Ian Clark added 14 points and drilled three of his six shots from deep.
With Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes in line for a demotion to Mark Jackson's second team to make room for Andre Iguodala and the addition of Marreese Speights to the frontcourt, Green might not have a clue where he'll be suiting up next season.
Something tells me the blue-collar banger is probably OK with that.
Mike D'Antoni Meet Elias Harris
With only one player currently under contract on their Summer League squad (sophomore Robert Sacre), the Los Angeles Lakers might be expecting limited returns from their Sin City stay.
Even if the expectations are low, though, the Lakers are still doing what they can to maximize the effectiveness of their guaranteed five-game trip.
Coach Mike D'Antoni's brother, Dan, is in charge of overseeing this Lakers squad, and he's clearly made an effort to implement as much of his brother's system as possible. That means having one player underneath the basket and four flooding the perimeter, which gave Elias Harris (an undrafted free agent from Gonzaga) his chance to shine.
Harris' effort in the Lakers' 77-65 win over the Clippers doesn't jump off the page, but a 12-point performance on 50-percent shooting from the field isn't a bad day at the office. Throw in his four boards, two assists and two steals, and you can start to see his comfort with manning the position that the Lakers struggled to fill last season.
Marcus Landry tried his hand as a stretch forward, but let's just say the results were a bit inconclusive (16 points, but just 2-of-8 from deep). Michael Snaer made the most of his 13-plus minutes (eight points, including one nasty throwdown, and seven rebounds), but the undrafted shooting guard from Florida State is fighting an uphill battle for a roster spot given the L.A. arrivals of Wesley Johnson and Nick Young.
Harris may have his own uphill climb since he's never been a great shooter from distance (0-2 of Monday). But if he keeps his energy level high, he should still hold at least an outside chance at a reunion with Sacre, his former frontcourt mate at Gonzaga.
Robbie Hummel's Humility
Robbie Hummel's path to the NBA wasn't supposed to be this hard or nearly this long.
No. 13 on the Big Ten's all-time scoring leaderboard (1,772 points), he was a new-age coach's dream. At 6'8", 215 pounds he possessed the ideal size to man the highly coveted stretch forward position, with the shooting stroke (career 38.9 three-point percentage at Purdue) and high basketball IQ to carve out a prolonged career in the big league.
Then disaster struck. Twice.
In a span of eight months, he tore his right ACL two different times. The first cut short his junior season, while the second delayed his senior campaign for a full year.
A second round pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves (58th overall) in 2012, he's back on the summer circuit for the second straight year. A year of seasoning in Spain might have helped his all-around game, but another knee surgery early in the season just put more red flags in his way.
None of that mattered on Monday, though, when he willed his body (and his team) to within seconds of their first Vegas victory in 2013. The Timberwolves ultimately fell short on Marcus Morris' buzzer-beating dagger, but the former Boilermaker put his wide-ranging talents on full display.
His 18 points (6-of-8 from the field, 2-of-2 from deep and 4-of-5 at the free-throw line) paced Minnesota's offensive attack. His seven rebounds were matched only by center Chris Johnson.
With Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer joining Chase Budinger on Minnesota's suddenly stacked perimeter, there may not be a roster spot left for Hummel. Safe to say, though, he'll have hoops fans across the globe hoping that there is.