Day 1 of Summer League featured one very strong performance by a lottery pick (Patrick Patterson), one very weak performance by a higher lottery pick (Greg Monroe) and a great game from a former lottery pick that's been brought back from the (metaphorical) dead (Brandan Wright). Today, seven of those eight teams who played yesterday are in action again. Let's break down each of the matchups:
(Also see: Ridiculous Upside's preview)
4:00 p.m. EDT: Toronto Raptors vs. Phoenix Sus
So far in Summer League: The Raptors are playing their first game, while the Suns lost to the Rockets 100-82.
Best player for each team: Last year's No. 9 pick overall DeMar DeRozan is back at Summer League looking to build on a solid rookie season that saw him take the Raptors' starting shooting guard job. DeRozan showed some flashes with some great drives to the basket last year, but his jump shot and his shot selection still need a lot of work. I'm guessing he won't get a ton of practice with his shot selection out in Vegas, but it'll be interesting to see if his jump shot has improved.
Phoenix is pretty much without top-level NBA talent, but last year's lottery pick Earl Clark is here. Unfortunately, Clark had a pretty bad first game, shooting just 4-14 in Friday's loss. He's going to have to play a lot better and more under control for Phoenix to win.
Key players to watch: Toronto brings both of their 2010 big men prospects to their roster in No. 13 pick Ed Davis and second-round selection Solomon Alabi. Phoenix, meanwhile, brings second-round pick Gani Lawal to the fold. Back in college, Lawal and Alabi had many battles in the ACC, so that's an interesting matchup to watch.
Someone to watch that you might not know: Two obscure point guards lead the way here. Phoenix's Zabian Dowdell is always on the cusp of making an NBA roster, but he never can seem to get over the hump. He's really solid running a team and is an outstanding defender. He'll go up against Toronto's Curtis Stinson, who impressed playing for Orlando's Summer League team.
6:00 p.m. EDT: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets
So far in Summer League: The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 88-70, while the Lakers fell to the Pistons 89-84.
Best player for each team: Denver's top gun is obviously Ty Lawson, who is coming off a spectacular rookie season in the NBA. He got the best of Dallas' Rodrigue Beaubois in a key point guard matchup last night, and to put it simply, Summer League is made for guys like him. The Lakers' top gun is probably second-round pick Derrick Caracter, who dropped 20 and 10 in last night's loss to Detroit.
Key players to watch: The other Lakers' draft pick, Devin Ebanks, is also on this team, so he's obviously a guy to monitor. For Denver, you have to take a look at Coby Karl. Yes, he's coach George Karl's son, but he can really play and has always impressed in Summer League. Ridiculous Upside wonders why he isn't on an NBA team right now.
One of the forgotten guys in the D-League lately has been Coby Karl. I am a huge fan of his game and he plays the game the way it should be played. Coby has a great basketball IQ but what people don't realize is he is much more athletic than people give him credit. He can play both guard spots and can shot the 3-ball with regularity. Also, how many can say they played with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal? There no is reason why he shouldn't be in the NBA right now.
Someone to watch that you might not know: The Lakers' Summer League team is a who's-who of past Summer League greats (D.J. Strawberry, Courtney Sims), but they also have Gerald Green, who is making one last run at being an NBA player. He'll have to do better than he did yesterday, though (0 points, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls). For Denver, keep an eye on Antonio Anderson. The former Memphis product earned a callup from Oklahoma City this year and is one of many lead guards who is right on the cusp.
8:00 p.m EDT: Detroit Pistons vs. Golden State Warriors
So far in Summer League: The Pistons beat the Lakers 89-84, while the Warriors topped New Orleans in a tight one 77-76.
Best player on each team: Reggie Williams, who was probably the most notable NBA D-League callup last year, headlines the Warriors roster, while Detroit is lead by last year's first-round pick Jonas Jerebko, who continues to impress as a high-energy guy.
Key players to watch: Today was supposed to be a showdown between lottery picks Greg Monroe and Ekpe Udoh, especially because the Warriors surprised many by opting for Udoh over Monroe at No. 6. Unfortunately, Udoh is injured, so we'll have to settle for a Monroe-Brandan Wright battle. As noted at the top, Wright was very impressive yesterday. Monroe, on the other hand, was not.
Someone to watch that you might not know: Detroit has several recent draft picks on their roster (DaJuan Summers, Terico White, Austin Daye), so we won't talk about them. Instead, I'm going to give some extra love to Jordan Eglseder. If you followed college hoops this year, you'd know Eglseder as the lynchpin of that Northern Iowa team that shocked Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. He's a legitimate seven-footer, and those guys don't grow on trees. For Golden State, keep your eye on Andre Brown, who had a strong first game yesterday.
10:00 p.m. EDT: Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets
So far in Summer League: The Mavericks got smashed by the Nuggets 88-70, while the Rockets smashed the Suns 100-82.
Best player on each team: Rodrigue Beaubois is the clear headliner for Dallas, but he's coming off a brutal opening game where he shot 3-16 and struggled to get Dallas' offense going. The shooting can be fixed, but not running the offense well is very concerning. Beaubois was a point guard in name last year, but he mostly called his own number. If he's going to get the most out of his talents, he's going to need to improve his point guard skills. For Houston, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill lead the way.
Key players to watch: It will be nearly impossible for Houston's 2010 first-round pick Patrick Patterson to top his performance from yesterday, where he showed off his versatility, particularly on the perimeter, but he'll try. The guy to watch for Dallas is first-round pick Dominique Jones, who showed off his slashing ability, but still needs to prove he has a jumper.
Someone to watch that you might not know: Somehow, we've gotten this far without mentioning Jermaine Taylor. The Rockets' second-round pick from a year ago was arguably the best player on the floor yesterday, scoring 25 points and grabbing seven rebounds. The Rockets have a lot of good young prospects, but don't forget about Taylor, who also impressed in a short stint with the Rockets last season. Dallas' Summer League team, on the other hand, features St. Mary's big man Omar Samhan, and you all should know about him.