Summer League is finally upon us here in Las Vegas and the Dallas Mavericks are finally playing basketball for the first time since losing in five games to the Houston Rockets. Of course, it's not the Mavericks you know, rather it's an assembled squad of rookies, journeymen, and undrafted players looking to make their mark.
The Mavericks fell 90-86 in their opening game, losing to the New Orleans Pelicans after rallying late. Rookie Justin Anderson was the high point man for Dallas, scoring 23 points while also grabbing 7 rebounds. Second year forward Dwight Powell also looked great, scoring 18 and grabbing a team high 13 rebounds.
Both squads looked rusty despite the Pelican's playing the day before. However, points were not in short supply, with the Pelicans putting up 52 first half points to the Mavericks 44. Considering the shortened quarters (10 minutes), it was rather impressive to watch both teams fill up the cup.
Dallas battled back from repeated double digit leads, keeping the game within striking distance. A late rally pulled Dallas within one on a Justin Anderson lay up, but Dallas could not tie or take the lead despite a great look from three by Anderson with just seconds to go.
While it would've been great to get the win, Summer League is much more about development and attempting to project what's possible from all prospects
1) Justin Anderson is an honest to goodness, NBA player
Prepare yourselves for the hype, because Anderson is the best looking Dallas Mavericks rookie since Josh Howard. That's not hyperbole. He probably won't have the impact of Howard, but rest assured, Mavs fans, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson selected a solid basketball player.
The left-handed shooting guard has a great stroke, despite connecting on only 3-10 attempts from downtown. What's more, despite appearing to have the green light, none of his shots were forced. Anderson also drove the ball much better than I expected. It's hard to say whether his driving skills are translatable when there are NBA-quality big men, but it was impressive watching him drive, put up a short jumper, grab his own rebound and finish it off twice.
2) Dwight Powell's shot looks fantastic
The Dwight Powell era last season was too short if you ask some of our writers. His shot and position were questionable at best and after a few games, he found himself firmly planted on the bench.
After one summer league game, there is cause for hope. Powell's shot and range look fantastic. His release is smooth and doesn't seem to have any indication of the hitch which was very evident last season. Additionally, he has real 3-point range. Don't worry about his 2-7 stat line from long distance, the shot looked soft. It's only one game, but I feel pretty confident in saying that we may have an actual Dirk Nowitizki back up!
3) Satnam Singh is a project, but one with some promise
There's been a lot of chatter about why Dallas drafted Singh, with most people assuming the 7-foot-2 Indian big man was drafted as yet another favor for agent Dan Fegan. After one game, the jury is still out on Singh, but I must admit that he has some promise.
We have to remember that this enormous man is just 19 years old and, while he's been in a pro-style training system for the past five years, he still has a lot to learn. In just one game, it's clear he's exceptionally strong. He's moderately athletic and is lacking quickness, but he can make it up and down the floor fairly easily and has been trained well to the point that he understands his role. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tells me this is the first time Satnam has played against anyone at this level.
4) This particular summer league squad is going to be terrible defensively
There isn't a single big man capable of consistently defending the rim on the roster. Singh has sound instincts and is great with vertical challenges, but lacks the horizontal quickness needed to play help defense right now. Jeremy Tyler seems to have the athleticism and the frame, but lacks the defensive instincts and wherewithal to be effective. Dwight Powell is very athletic, but just isn't big enough to be a real rim protector.
Outside of Anderson, the guards aren't much better defensively. Kevin Pangos has some promise, but he's not quick enough. Jordan Crawford is a saloon door. Maalik Wayns could be solid, but didn't show a ton on the defensive end in game one.
The collection of players are all fairly weak defensively and as a result, the team probably will be too. If Dallas is to win a game or games, they're going to have to out score people.
5) Bobby Ray Parks Jr. did not play enough
This is just a fact. #FreeBobbyRayParks
Next game is tomorrow night at 9 p.m. CT.