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Summer League Round-up


It's really hard to judge talent in Summer League.

I mean, not that I'm an expert at it.

But where, my friends, is the Summer League Comparison?

Talent-wise, they're probably better than the best college team. But unlike the best college team, they haven't played together. And unlike the best college team, each player would murder another player if it meant they'd look good enough to impress somebody. And wouldn't you? To get your dream off the ground?

I mean, not murder. But still.

How does a Summer League team compare to a D-League Team? Probably less good. In addition to NOT being a cohesive unit, the D-League is kind of an accelerated version of Summer League. After the rookies and second-year players, it's D-Leaguers AND THEN guys who aren't anywhere yet.

The D-League Select played pretty impressively this week, and it wasn't just that they were used to the grind.

I once, at the athletically lower-tier NESCAC university I went to, had the opportunity to play intramural ball with a guy who had been the varsity center for a while. He had not had an easy time wrestling with other college's centers, but man was he good at mid-level intramural ball.

This is the problem.

It's not fool-proof, but I look for a player making the plays he can make in the NBA, though it can be hard to know what that is. For example, though, last year when Dom Jones scored all those points, I couldn't help but notice that he was getting a lot of them from the line, something that would not happen to him in the NBA.

And it didn't. By the way, did you know that "ref scouts" come to these games to recruit refs for possible future berths? Interesting stuff.

So here's my Vegas review, with all that in mind:

Gal Mekel

Mekel is hard to judge. Is he a natural point? Yes. He has composure, I almost never saw his pocket get picked, he dribbles in traffic with his head up. He has nice touch on his floater. That's the good news.

The bad news is, I did not come away feeling like Mekel is NBA ready. There was a lot of talk after the last game about how he was going off with his coach to learn the NBA three-point shot, and he needs to, because the floater was the only credible way he scored at Vegas. Also, for his array of dazzling passes, which actually tapered off towards the end, there was only one game where it seemed like he was DEFINITELY getting guys the ball where they could score. I don't know that that's him, rather than the inability of the guys receiving the passes to convert. He averaged a credible 9 points and 5 assists, but that doesn't yet scream NBA to me.

Best case scenario what we learned about Mekel is that he has NBA level vision, toughness, and poise, and that he can find ways to score enough to keep defenses honest. He certainly has the chutzpah.

Worst case scenario, we learned that here's a guy who ball-dominates, but doesn't score, and who has only one NBA ready shot, the floater. We'll see.

Ricky Ledo

There's no reason that Ledo can't be an NBA player, but it presumably won't be at the start of the season. The shots he got were NBA shots, and his shot IS an NBA shot. The problem is that there were games where he didn't make basically any of them.

I thought he had a nice all-around game. It's not hard to imagine that he could be a credible defender and decision maker. But, realistically, even if it's just because he's playing catch up, a guy isn't going to go from scoring 7.3 a game, at a 36% clip, to being a backup NBA 2-guard. I don't think I'd hold out much hope for Ledo this year, but maybe he'll pick it up fast in the D-league. He's probably the Mavs' most talented young player, but there's a lot of room, at this point, between that and what he's likely to be.

Jae Crowder and Bernard James

(EDITORS NOTE: HE GON') Obviously, for James, this is a huge "incomplete". Still don't know what's going on with Sarge, and why, if it was an injury, it's officially labeled as a "personal issue". His rebounding looked good, but his offense looked bad and his defense wasn't as good as you might expect from someone who spent some practice time this year guarding Dirk Nowitzki. Hard to project Sarge will make much impact this year but, of course, at this point the Mavs have basically no choice.

Or do they?

Crowder was a big disappointment. Playing nearly 20 minutes a game, in the NBA, should make summer league a cakewalk. It did not. He still doesn't rebound, as 4 a game in summer league doesn't strike me as a good number for him, and he still can NOT shoot a three-pointer. Which is a shame, since it's obvious both he and the Mavs see that as his primary way to score. 13 points a game isn't a bad summer league number, 28th or so among eligible players. 43% is pretty bad for a guy with a year of NBA service under his belt.

I guess the good news is, that 43% number includes just a horrific slaughterhouse of terrible from three so he must have been pretty good inside (though the D-League Stats website does not allow me to ascertain this).

Josh Akognon and Jackie Carmichael

These guys are probably never going to make it in the NBA, but they're good enough at what they do to be on the fringes. If Carmichael can get a break, I can see him being a 3rd big man on a bad team for at least a few years. If a team ever has a need for a 27 year old, 5'10" guy who can't play point but can really shoot, Akognon can find a place. That sounded pretty sarcastic. True, though?

Justin Dentmon

This guy intrigues me. Dentmon is a such a good D-League player, at times looked like the only competent offensive player on the team, and scored 13 points in just 17 minutes a game at summer league. In a way, if players like Dentmon can't find a place in the league, it says something about where the D-League is at right now.

Would like to see someone give him a shot.