Minnesota Summer League: Mid-Day Update

Minnesota Summer League: Mid-Day Update
Jul 17, 2005, 05:58 pm
The Nate Robison Show - Robinson continues to be just about the sole reason to keep watching these games. He knows how to get the crowd involved, and warmed the locals up last night with a little dunk show in warm-ups. It only got better once the game began, and his disgusting put-back dunk was all anybody wanted to talk about last night. He caught the ball at least a foot above the rim and brought the crowd to it’s feet, even though the basket was called off. Another play that had to be seen to be truly appreciated took place when Dwayne Jones actually blocked one of his floaters in the lane. Robinson fell to the ground, and there was a tussle for the loose the ball. Somehow, Robinson got to his feet, and beat out three or four players that should have gotten to it before he did. He instantly threw a no-look pass right through all the congestion to a wide open David Lee for the dunk. Spectacular! Robinson finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists last night against Minnesota, and lit Indiana up to the tune of 23 points and 5 assists in the opener this morning.

New York’s Inside Corps – David Lee and Channing Frye both impressed last night, with Lee notching 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, and Frye contributing 16 points in just 17 minutes. Lee was everywhere, knocking Timberwolves out of the way with ease. The statisticians only credited him with 2 offensive rebounds on the night, but I was thinking he had five in the third quarter alone. Frye continues to play an opportunistic and skilled game, staying active around the basket and hitting the outside jumper on occasion. He showed a bit of post skill when he faced and quickly converted on a pull up bank shot, a la Tim Duncan.

What to make of David Harrison? – Harrison is probably the most physically talented big man here. There’s nobody with his size or strength out there, and he gets position in the paint without breaking a sweat. A lot of the time, his sheer advantage in bulk leads to wide open dunks underneath the basket. So why aren’t people ranting and raving about this guy? His attitude is a serious problem. Last night against Toronto, he seemed to be daring the refs to start calling ticky tack fouls on him, and then he threw a temper tantrum when they did. He got T’d up for cursing one of them out, and was never really a factor after that. His 19 point, 6 rebound effort in the early game this morning is a bit more encouraging, but you still have to wonder how a guy with such a huge size advantage manages to shoot just 7/17 in this setting.

The #1 pick – Andrew Bogut has bounced back from a shaky start, going for 21 and 13 last night against Houston, and notching 16 and 11 this afternoon versus Toronto. I don’t think anybody would characterize his play as dominant, but at least he is producing. Bogut continues to play within himself, almost too willing to make the extra pass and set screens for teammates. He got a bit more aggressive in the 2nd half this afternoon, scoring on a couple of post moves. Bogut isn’t getting much help from his teammates, and it mostly shows on the defensive end. Teams are picking the Bucks apart – Bogut has 13 fouls in the last two games, and even the lowly Raptors managed to put up 57 first half points this afternoon. Bogut is clearly one of the more skilled players out here, but I can’t help but think that his performance thus far has been a bit underwhelming. He just isn’t an athletic or physical standout, and that really hurts him when teams throw double teams his way like the Raptors did today. He’s got two more games here, and I hope he makes it a point to go out and dominate at least one of them.

Toronto finally gets a win – The Raptors came on in a big way, destroying a Bucks team that just doesn’t have enough experience to compete here. Uros Slokar, the one Raptors draft pick actually playing here, had his breakout performance. The smooth lefty showed some skill in the early games, but just hadn’t gotten comfortable enough to really take off. Today he hit the jumper, was aggressive around the basket, and really took it to Andrew Bogut in 2nd half. He finished the game with 19 points (6-7 shooting) in just 21 minutes. Marcus Haislip was hitting from the outside once again, finishing with 17 points on 7-9 shooting. He dunked home a halfcourt pass from Omar Cook near the end of the first half, which definitely was the highlight of this game. Nonetheless, when the physical David Young (17 points, 7-17 shooting) came in the game and started getting in his face, he struggled to put the ball on the floor or do anything in the post. Tim Pickett also deserves some mention here, as a hard-nosed athlete that really stroked it from downtown this afternoon. He had 14 points (3-4 3-pointers) in the first half, and then didn’t see the court in the second. Pape Sow put in his best performance thus far as well, hitting on a couple very athletic looking post moves. The final stats (6 points, 6 rebounds, 22 minutes) don’t look impressive, but at least Sow finally showed something on the offensive end.

Houston Prospects rebound – After so-so first games, both Luther Head and Malick Badiane bounced back against a Bucks team that seems to be the solution for numerous struggling players. Head once again brought energy and defensive intensity early in the game, and eventually got his shot going tonight. He hit a 3-pointer in the 2nd quarter, and finished the half with a very difficult fade away from the baseline, just as the buzzer sounded. Head ended up with a very nice stat line, going for 11 points (5-11 shooting), 6 assists, and 3 steals in 20 minutes of play. Badiane isn’t the physical presence in the paint that he should be, but it’s hard not to notice his length and athletic potential. He hit a nice mid range bank shot, and showed off a very nice jumper from 15 feet. He ended up with a good looking line, scoring 18 points on 6-6 shooting, while adding 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Injuries Hamper Timberwolves – While Nikoloz Tskitishvili’s stunning performance was able to help the Wolves overcome the loss of Rashad McCants on friday night, the injuries are really starting to pile up for Minnesota now. Nick Horvath is out with a sprained ankle, and Bracey Wright went down 5 minutes into last night’s game. Tskitishvili himself headed for the locker room after playing 9 uninspired minutes, and showed up today with his shooting hand in a cast. That left Ndudi Ebi and Dwayne Jones to try and stand up to a very energized, very talented New York Knicks squad. Ebi actually showed me something, which might be the first time I’ve ever been able to truthfully say those words. The off-the-dribble fadeaways he was missing on opening night were falling for him in the first half, and he showed a bit more discretion when it came to firing them. Most of his 14 points (5-11 shooting) came in the first half, and it would have been nice to see him put up more of a fight down low in the second, when the Knicks’ big men really made this squad look bad. Dwayne Jones continues to be the only Timberwolf willing to battle it up down low, though his 7 fouls and 3 turnovers show how much of struggle it was for him. He is looking tough as a defender and shotblocker, but he is still struggling with the poor hands that Saint Joe’s fans often saw over the past three years.

Other Notes: Ersan Illyasova is still struggling out there, but you have to like the raw tools. He is much more athletic than I realized from watching his workout in Chicago. The awareness of how to score is there, but he just isn’t used to American-style basketball yet. He could have a Uros Slokar-style breakout game at some point. Lonny Baxter is one of the better players here. He gets everything he can out of his abilities, and is always making hustle plays around the basket. Maurice Carter is a slick looking wing that has put up some very solid numbers thus far. David Bluthenthal took a lot of outside shots in a short amount of time yesterday, and missed most of them very badly. Omar Cook has looked good leading teammates with crisp open court passes, but he isn’t a factor once the offense is set up. He has hit a couple of jumpers, but missed several more very badly. He never looks to take the ball to the basket. Larry Harris showed up to watch Andrew Bogut this afternoon, and there are plenty of other big names to be seen in the crowd. Jeff Van Gundy, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Patrick Ewing, and Rob Babcock are just a few.

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