Yessssssssssssssss! Finally, the Vegas Summer League is here. Orlando is nice and all, but that's just eight teams. Vegas is where the rest of the league comes to
party swelter in the Nevada summer heat. Scott is onsite, but occupied. Maybe we can get him to check in with some thoughts about actually being there, but otherwise you're riding with me.
As with the Orlando games, the majority (if not all) of these games will be shown on NBA TV, and those that don't have access to NBA TV can watch all of the Summer League games online for $14.95 either live or on demand. The action kicks off this afternoon, with Brian Butch and the Denver Nuggets taking on a Dallas Mavericks team led by Jeremy Lin. (Sort of.)
The "what to watch for" notes are after the jump (all times are Eastern).
4 p.m. - Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks
Nuggets Free Agent to Watch: Shane Edwards
I'm going on record early as saying Shane Edward could impress some people in Vegas. He has been an undersized power forward transitioning to a wing player, and he shot 63 percent (not a typo) for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds last season. He's quick and can jump out of the building - think Latavious Williams, but with most of his improvements needed on defense rather than offense, and you're probably close. Or maybe a less-hyped (former Nugget) James White. At any rate, he's been working on his game and could start to see a payoff here.
Mavericks Free Agent to Watch: Jeremy Lin
Lin was something of a "get" for the Mavs, as he's an extremely intriguing point guard coming out of Harvard. Golden State of Mind in particular love him, calling him "explosive." He's an efficient if not prolific scorer, but he's a solid playmaker and contributes in multiple areas. A lot of eyes will be on Lin over the next week or so.
6 p.m. - Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns
Rockets Free Agent to Watch: Alexander Johnson
Johnson technically is under contract for now, although it's nonguaranteed. So why am I listing him here? Because the Rockets' acquisition of Jordan Hill last season and recent drafting of Patrick Patterson make me skeptical the Rockets will guarantee his deal, meaning other teams should keep an eye on him (his Rockets call-up was essentially so he could play for them here). Johnson has some NBA experience, having split around 100 games over two seasons with Miami and Memphis, but he spent the majority of last season in the D-League where he was a beast.
Scott spent a lot of words on Johnson last year, so I'll advise you to read them, but in a nutshell he's a good rebounder, has decent size (if not height) and already knows how to contribute to an NBA team.
Suns Free Agent to Watch: Scottie Reynolds
Zabian Dowdell is the best point guard prospect the Suns have brought in, but I think many will be intrigued to see how Reynolds handles NBA action. Questions about his game left him undrafted last month, and this is a chance to either a.) answer them or b.) justify them. Unfortunately for him, the Suns don't have a ton of scorers on their team (Earl Clark! Gani Lawal! uh...Ryan Toolson!), so he probably won't rack up a ton of assists and may decide he needs to take over himself - which is exactly what he did in college and pretty much the opposite of what teams want to see. So we'll see how this goes.
8 p.m. - Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Pistons Free Agent to Watch: Jared Reiner
New draftee Greg Monroe looks to get most of the center minutes for Detroit, but Reiner has a chance to step in and show he deserves at least a training camp invite somewhere. He battled injury problems last year in the D-League, but when he played he was a very good rebounder and decent defender with a solid midrange jumper. He's had a few D-League stints over the years, so he's been on the cusp for awhile now, and at 28 he's about what he is at this point, but he has good size and some skill, and could contribute at the back end of a big man rotation.
Lakers Free Agent to Watch: Frank Robinson
I was tempted to cite Reiner's D-League teammate Rob Kurz, but given that LA's biggest roster holes in the backcourt, let's talk about Robinson. He's familiar with the Triangle after spending time playing for the (former) Lakers' D-League affiliate. His biggest problem is outside shooting (24.3 percent for the D-Fenders) but beyond that, he's a smart, quick, strong guard. He can distribute the ball a little, rebound a little and use his size (6'4", 200) to play decent defense. He could be a nice, cheap replacement for Shannon Brown (if his shooting improves), but then I get crazy ideas sometimes.
10 p.m. - Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Hornets
Warriors Free Agent to Watch: Jeremy Wise
Wise played for the Warrior's D-League affiliate Bakersfield Jam last year, where he transitioned from shooting guard to playing the point. Eligible for this year's draft but unselected, Wise averaged a decent five assists per game for the Jam (decent because he usually shared duties with someone else) and scored efficiently. Golden State brought in a lot of point guards, but Wise is a really solid prospect who consistently improved over the course of the season (oh no, do I need to give Will Voigt for credit for something?), and he has a chance to distinguish himself here.
Hornets Free Agent to Watch: Maurice Ager
Ager wasn't great when he was in the NBA, so he spent last season in the D-League. I wouldn't say he was great there either, but he was good. His shooting has improved over the last few years and has retained most of his athleticism, and was on a loaded Red Claws team for whom he wasn't asked to do much other than score. The biggest question NBA teams likely will have concerns his defense. He has the physical tools to succeed there, and while defense isn't the biggest feature of Summer League, at least putting forth some effort on that end could get him a training camp invite somewhere as a reclamation project.