Summer League — game one

Kurt —  July 9, 2006

One game is not nearly enough to really judge a player or draw sweeping conclusions. So don’t read too much into the notes and comments on the first Summer Pro League game for the Lakers in Long Beach today. For the record, the Grizzlies won 89-87, but really, wins and losses are moot in a league all about player development.

By the way, these are Laker-centric notes. Later in the week I’ll post some thoughts on the other guys I’m seeing over at True Hoop, where I’m one of the guest bloggers for the week. One of the bummers was that neither Rudy Gay nor Kyle Lowry played for Memphis.

Jordan Farmar: He was as advertised — a real leader, quick, plays solid defense and needing to work on his long range shooting, but he had as good an outing as you can expect from a 19-year-old rookie thrown in to run the triangle. He finished with a team-high 17 points and was 5 of 6 inside the arc but 0 of 3 from beyond it. By the end of the game Memphis defenders were playing off him and letting him have the long jumper and Farmar became hesitant to shoot it. (This is something that can be worked on, particularly in the triangle where you know you’ll get your threes in specific spots.) His mid-range shooting is good. He got into the lane well and got to the line for nine free throws (hitting 7), and one thing he does quite well is draw the contact and still get off a controlled shot (he had one right in front of me where Farmar drove into the defender, got the whistle then leapt back for a fade-away he hit). Maybe the thing I noticed most was how well he pushes the ball up the court, the Lakers picked up the tempo with him in the game, and he distributes very well on the run. In the half-court set he had a couple nice entry passes into the post, but had a few sloppy ones as well. He played solid man defense most of the game (former Gator Anthony Roberson drove past him seveal times, but that guy was real quick), plus had a couple of steals. And he is a leader, he was directing guys on the floor in the half-court, really taking charge of the offense. Like I said, there were areas where you want to see improvement (a couple times a big switched on to him on a pick-and-roll and he didn’t exploit it well, another time he got caught with a back-court 8 count when he picked up his dribble) but overall he had a good outing.

Andrew Bynum: He has gotten a lot stronger from last year, and his shooting and moves look a lot better. That said, he still has a ways to go. He was 3 of 7 shooting and one of those was the finish of an ally-oop from Farmar on the break that may have been the highlight of the game. (Either that or the dancing cow, which was hysterical but I have no idea how to really explain it.) Last summer Bynum got pushed around on the block by everyone, this year he was getting to and holding his spots. Also, he is shooting from over his head, taking advantage of his height, and his post moves are so much more polished (he finished with 12 points). Maybe the best thing from him is just how well he was running the floor — and Farmar was finding him on the break. That said, sometimes he tried to get cute around the basket rather than use that strength, and other times Griz players seemed to be able to muscles him off rebounds. His defense in the post was good (I’m not sure how much of that was his counterpart’s lack of game) and he had two blocks.

Danilo (don’t call me J.R.) Pinnock:
Maybe the biggest surprise of the day – one game is just one game but he looked like a steal from the second round. He finished with 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting and was 2 of 2 from three-point range. He shot from the outside, drove the lane (amazing baseline drive in the second half) and made plays at both ends of the court. He had the guts to take the last shot of the game to go for the tie — he missed it but I love that he wanted it (even if the smart move may have been to let Farmar drive and create). I’ll be watching him more intently in future games.

Devin Green: Just like last year’s summer league, he just seems to do all the little things right but nothing spectacularly. He had to cover Hakim Warrik much of the day and held him to 4 of 11 shooting. Green had a team-high four assists. Just a solid all-around effort, although I will add that I was fairly close to the Laker bench and summer coach Kurt Rambis made more comments and corrections to Green than any other player (frustrated with his choices in the offense at points, failure to call a timeout after a late-game steal).

Marcus Douthit: The former Laker second rounder picked up some polished post moves in Europe, he finished with 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting, plus had a team-best seven rebounds. That said, his defense was average and his performance was not overwhelmingly impressive.

Von Wafer: Last summer he was a shooting machine at the SPL, in this game he went 1 for 6. He looked like he was trying to find his spots within the triangle but he didn’t look comfortable. Did work hard on the defensive end.

I am not going to make the Lakers second game tomorrow against Dallas (if anyone goes send me some thoughts), however I will be there for parts of Tuesday and Wednesday, as much as work will allow.