No Entry: Summer League with Sean Banks, Part III

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image via nba.com

The following is the third and final part of a three part series following Sean Banks at the Las Vegas Summer League. Part 1 is available here, and Part 2 is available here.

 

 

As good as Banks may have felt after his performance on Friday, Saturday he feels just as bad.  He's worn out.  A long week of practices, pressure, travel, and games have caught up with him.  Most frustrating is the lack of communication with the coaching staff.

"I haven't really heard much from them.  They got a lot of guys they have to talk to, and deal with, and not everybody gets time."

The night before, I'd asked Banks about the improvement he'd shown in the game against the Lakers.  I asked if part of it was just getting the nerves out?

"It's just doing something good.  As soon as you do something well, you feel better, you remember, 'Oh, yeah, I can do this.  This is just ball.'  And then it gets better."

On Saturday, though, he's pretty wiped out. He's got one more game, though, if he can get time.

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One of the most difficult things for D-League players trying to get into the league to do is to adapt their game to what coaches want.  These are guys that have been the stars of their teams since they were 12.  They've been on All-State, All-American, All-Conference teams.  They've been the go-to guys, the primary scorers.  That's what they've been taught to do.  Telling them, "I need you to not worry about scoring at all, and focus on defense and doing the little things" is going to take some adjustment.  Banks, a natural scorer (he led the D-League in both FGA and FGM last season), at least understands that concept.

"You try and do what you can do.  These guys aren't looking for scorers.  Like, take the Raptors.  They're bringing me in to look at me for the 4.  They've got Chris Bosh.  They don't need scoring.  They need defense, rebounding, and guys to do the little things."

The only problem with doing the little things?  People don't notice.  Coaches notice, but most people see the box score.  And the worst thing you can have on your box score is 0s.

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Banks is doing all the little things he can in limited minutes.  His coaches are encouraging him, giving him constant talk on defense.  with 8:25 to go, he swings baseline and attacks the basket. Everett levels him.  Banks misses both free throws.  Not a good start.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are using their athleticism against the squad, and constantly running.  The Raptors are looking to get Jawai a number of looks as he's progressed in Summer League.  But the Raptors pull within 1 before taking a timeout.

Lucas drifts the ball to Banks on the left wing.  Banks sees an opening and loops around the key to find: nothing but open space.  He elevates and tomahawks it.  The crowd roars. 

It will be his last field goal of Summer League in Las Vegas.
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It's not that Banks plays badly, but he can't get into a rhythm.  Guys are obviously looking to get their own.  Combined with the Warriors' athleticism, his tweener position between a 3 and 4, and the fact that Raptors' point guard John Lucas and he have absolutely no chemistry, Banks finishes the day quietly. 13 minutes, 2 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 turnovers. 

Quiet.

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After the game, he just wants to be gone. I ask him what he thinks about his Summer League.

"It's over. "

He's just tired.  He's proud of his performance, but wishes he had an opportunity to do more.  He limps away, heading wherever he's headed next.

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The future's still bright for Sean, even though Summer League didn't work out as well as he'd hoped.  He's headed home to see his son, who is "the most important thing in his life, now."  Then he'll start considering offers.  There's Europe, his most likely destination.  His agent will try and get him into a training camp, so he's got some time.  If a team shows interest, and wants him to wait a while, there's the D-League, but it's got to be a solid offer.  He can't wait for the rainbow forever.  He has some bigger aspirations, though.

His father is a British citizen, and as such, he's eligible to apply for British citizenship.  If he can get the paperwork done, he'll be able to right a mistake he made a long time ago, albeit not for his home country.  He's already talked with British basketball officials about joining the British Olympic team for the 2012 Olympic games.  After missing the Team USA practice which dealt a devastating blow to his career, he's got a chance to repair things in some small way.

Either way, he's got the talent to succeed.  He's still got a devastating set of athletic skills, and an innate ability to score.  He's constantly working to improve his game, and he's starting to outgrow the immaturity that marked his youth.  Best of all, he says, he's still young. 

"I'm only 23, you know?  I've got so much ahead of me, so much to look forward to, in basketball and out of it.  I know I've still got so much potential.  I just have to work for it."

There may not be entry now, but for Sean Banks, there's still light behind the door.

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