just got back from the fan fest evening and i have to say it was alot of fun, well run and there was a great atmosphere. the players and coaches greeted folks as they came through the ticket stiles and they seemed genuinely pleased to be there. (lamarcus aldridge has HUGE hands, btw, crikey) other than making us stand out in the rain until 5pm, precisely, it was terrific.
some random thoughts, from an optimistic observer:
rudy fernandez was the best player on the floor hands down. he was active, he was alert and made play after play after play. with bayless breaking into the lane at will, rudy had at least four (by my count) three pointers off of a bayless dish. and some pretty assists; the kid is good.
jerryd bayless might have been the second best player on the floor. between bayless and rudy, the white team (second unit, primarily) led the black team. he was right in sergio's grill all night and el chaco didn't like it. which led to the only tense moment of the game, when bayless was pressing sergio full court and rodriguez gave him a pork chop, elbow to the chin that knocked bayless back. bayless didn' even blink, didn't complain, didn't hesitate. he just got right back in his face. great stuff.
lamarcus was named the mvp of the game, though as i said i actually think rudy, roy and maybe bayless were better. but the l-train looked schmoove. really confident, obviously becoming a leader and just stroking the basketball. and each time he found himself down low, he attacked. he went right at joel, right at diogu, right at outlaw. simply one of the best young players in the nba.
brandon roy looked good. was fairly surprised that they let him play considering he had knee surgery so recently. and he definitely got hit hard a few times, including a charge he took against martell. just classic, easy brandon. it was encouraging.
i am still a bit incredulous at how travis outlaw became so good. he's really, really good. the old hesitant travis is gone. he will attack anybody. he seemed to get matched up alot against lamarcus and they both played well. with his length and hops he can get his shot almost at will. now that he is confident, i'm not sure what his ceiling is. if he played for someone like charlotte, he might score 30 a night. and signed to a reasonable contract. another smooth move by kp.
joel looked healthy and happy and active. and he outplayed oden. i've said it before and i'll say it again. he will be the perfect backup center to win a championship with.
martell webster is just a curious case. prototype nba body and athleticism, terrific fundamentals, has learned to play tenacious defense, and passes the ball pretty well. oh yeah, and he has the sweetest stroke on the team (with a nod to lma). he played pretty well tonight. but was mostly invisible and missed the majority of his shots. but he was attacking the rim and playing hard. the jury is still out i'm afraid. i think he could have a stellar year, but not playing like that.
ike diogu. meh. not to be too harsh, but didn't see much there to like. he's slow, undersized and demonstrates no hops. really weak and hopeful around the basket. sorry, but it makes me very glad we have channing frye, who is going to play an important role for us i believe.
of the squad hopefuls.. randolph: a solid player. no chance of making this team. luke: crowd loved him and he actually looked pretty good. who knows maybe they'll like the homecooking and goodwill from all the duck fans. tatum: nice little player, seems like a nice kid. with all of our pg's, don't see it happening. hill: steven of nazareth played a nice game, he moves well, he seems to have a good instinct for rebounding position and he plays hard. my pick to take up the last roster spot. sorry luke...
it doesn't look good for sergio. whose shot, btw, did not look better. flat as ever. and not enough confidence. i think the main problem is, he doesn't do anything really well, just a lot of different things satisfactorily. add in getting used by bayless and rudy making all of the flashy passes... and with accuracy, not a great night. still believe he's the next one off of the island, unless they keep him around to befriend and mentor rudy for the year. ala mcroberts and oden last year.
oh yeah... and greg. people may disagree and not want to hear this, but i didn't think he looked great. big and strong, yes. but constantly out of position. and trying to bull through people instead of going over them. he just didn't look comfortable out there to me. almost creaky, in fact, which scares the hell out of me, for obvious reasons. now, he was clearly not in game shape and he is still rehabbing, plus coming off a twisted ankle, which is most likely still tender. i am going to remain as optimistic and ready to believe for as long as it takes, but to date i've seen greg play twice as a pro, in last year's summer league and tonight. neither of those players resembled the beast we saw almost take down florida a couple of years ago.
i'm sure he will be fine... i'm sure he will be fine...
a terrific evening and for a pre-season scrimmage, a very impressive display of basketball. the team is working hard, the front office is world class and rip city is back. life is good again. this season is going to be special, no matter the outcome.