The NBA Las Vegas Summer League kicked off with four solid games. A few were blowouts, but does that really matter in Summer League? The bright idea I've come up with over the past week is that the league should keep individual and team stats, but not the score. Really, does it matter if Denver beat Dallas by 18 points, or that Golden State beat New Orleans by one? Coaches on both sides could get a headstart on running end-of-game plays even if it wouldn't win the game. This is about seeing who can help the team generally, not who can help the team beat a group of guys who will be playing in Europe.
Anyway, since most people visiting Ridiculous Upside are probably doing so as a way to see who's looking good and bad at Summer League in lieu of a recap of each game, Scott has
saddled me made the brilliant decision to bring back the lovely Monstars and Nonstars that we employed during the D-League playoffs. These are the three(-ish) best and non-best players of the day, again sticking with players you may not be familiar with. Hit the jump to see who they were.
- Coby Karl, SG, Denver Nuggets - Karl got the start alongside Ty Lawson, though he brought the ball up a fair amount. He didn't have the best shooting night, 3-8, though he got to the free-throw line and finished with 16 points along with seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. During the game, IMG Basketball Academy and ESPN's David Thorpe tweeted "I sound like a broken record, but I'm always mystified that Coby Karl has to fight for an NBA job every year." Karl looked pretty comfortable on the court and amply demonstrated his versatility (he also played decent defense, and like Thorpe I'll be pretty mystified if he doesn't get a serious NBA look this year.
- Shane Edwards, SF, Denver Nuggets - Summer League is full of guys like Edwards, a quick, athletic leaper (or slasher, or both) who played out of position in college and trying to transition to something closer to what the NBA is looking for. Edwards has been working hard for over a year to improve his skills, and if day 1 was any indication it's paying off. Edwards attacked the basket relentlessly, making five of his six field goals on the way to 15 points in a little over 21 minutes. He also used his quickness on defense, picking up three steals and three rebounds.
- Zabian Dowdell, PG, Phoenix Suns - Dowdell showed a bit of the strict scorer's mentality that he's been working to shed, but overall he did a good job running the Suns offense, finishing with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. He was able to get into the lane and to the rim fairly easily, and in all likelihood would've finished with a lot more assists if the other starters didn't miss 30 shots combined. Dowdell has a pretty good shot at a training camp invitation somewhere.
- Honorable Mention: Andre Brown, PF, Golden State Warriors - Brown didn't do much on the offensive end for the Warriors, but he grabbed 10 rebounds, including seven in the first quarter when he played 7 and a half minutes. He can score, so the 2-6 shooting nights probably won't last, and if he can keep the rebounding up he could work himself into a training camp invite.
- Maurice Ager, SG, New Orleans Hornets - Three fouls and 0-3 shooting in 12 minutes? Yeah, about that "what to watch for" thing...
- Antonio Anderson, SG, Denver Nuggets - Anderson also was on the roster in Orlando, although he didn't play a minute there. I don't know if he backed out or what, but it definitely looked like he could've used the games to warm up. Anderson missed all four of his shots; three of those were from behind the arc, a somewhat odd choice given that he shot all of 24 percent from outside in the D-League last year. He also didn't really take advantage of his other tools; two rebounds and two assists are okay for Summer League, I suppose, but below Anderson's abilities.
- Anton Ponkrashov, G/F, Phoenix Suns - I was a bit down on Ponkrashov coming into this week, and his game 1 performance didn't do much to change my mind. He was 1-4 in a little under 15 minutes, but unlike teammate Matt Janning who made some positive contributions despite his own poor shooting performance, Ponkrashov generally looked out of sorts and maybe a step slow, turning the ball over three times. Don't be surprised to see Ponkrasov give way a bit to Scottie Reynolds (who got a DNP today) in game 2.