The cure for the NBA summertime blues? For the fanatics, it's the Las Vegas Summer League, where those of us who have to go the off-season without the NBA title (again) can erase those bad memories, and get on with the renewed fervor of next season's hopes and promises.
We know as Piston fans that a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals is getting to be the standard, but leaving our season there is getting to be redundant.
While team president Joe Dumars has stated there aren't any "sacred cows" amongst the veterans, Friday night's opening game of the Las Vegas Summer League was his first opportunity to pour over the new prime choice young talent during their 84-73 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
While sifting through the expected rust, you could single out the standouts while noticing some of the promise of the newcomers. Guard Rodney Stuckey dominated the floor, seemingly getting to any spot he wanted, leaving himself with converting as his only task.
While Stuck did not use the game to work on his three-point shooting, he went for 21 points on 6-16 shooting, working both the drive and the pull-up jumper equally. He added five rebounds and four assists, running from both guard spots.
While both Arron Afflalo (15 points) and Amir Johnson (5-5 FGs, 12 points) were a little overly aggressive on defense (you get 10 fouls before fouling out), they both made some strides on their respective weak offensive games.
Cheick Samb seems to be filling out that 7-0 frame with added muscle (up to 225 pounds) and working on his jump shot to become more of an offensive threat as well. His 3-12 showing means there's work to be done, but he did add nine points and as many rebounds. Dumars is looking for him to be an asset soon.
The highlight for me was the chance to see the newest draftees, the ones who have been getting much criticism and have questions to answer. Each gave a good account of themselves and showed some flash.
Walter Sharpe, the forward out of UAB, got the start, and showed excellent feet in and around the lane, and passed the ball well. His shot seemed hurried but smooth, so his 2-9 from the floor is a little misleading. He is agile and mobile, played good defense, both on-man and in the passing lanes, and will get more comfortable with more minutes.
"It feels good to get out there and do some positive things," Sharpe stated, after finishing with eight points, three steals, three rebounds and two assists.
Trent Plaisted also played well after a shaky start and getting his feet wet. He ran the floor with ease and got out ahead of the pack, taking a pass from Stuckey and dunking. He got more acclimated as he played, and scored 10 points (4-5) and grabbed five rebounds. I would have liked to seen more from the outside and off the dribble, but it was respectable for a first game.
Deron Washington has the look, but seemed to defer to everyone else out on the floor. He has the tools and his college stats back that up. In addition to his nearly 14 points per game last season at Virginia Tech, he averaged over six assists and rebounds, very good for his size. He gets an incomplete for this game, and will get more opportunity in the upcoming contests.
Veterans Will Bynum and Derrick Allen played sparingly but solid, and both could have been a little more aggressive going to the rim. Kentrell Gransberry, a 6-9, 270 pound mountain, looks to be a project, but is not awkward or plodding, and seems to know what he's doing around the basket.
How much playing time he gets is up in the air, but Dumars agreed to take a look at him, as his son is headed to South Florida to play and attend school.
The Pistons next game is Sunday versus the Clippers. With Jarvis Hayes leaving Detroit for the New Jersey Nets, the Pistons have more holes to fill, and the door is open for these young players to walk through.