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Summer League Game 1 Recap

Since this is night one and the main focus is on three players we'll focus on that.

Jerryd Bayless  5-12 fg  18-23ft  4 reb, 0 asst, 28pts in 32 min

He’s the one guy with a marketable NBA skill right off the bat. He has the ability to take his man off the dribble and draw a foul. He’s not precisely Roy-level multi-directional but he can go either direction and he’s pretty darn quick. He’s strong enough to finish even with contact and he hits his free throws like he was playing Pop-a-Shot. This will absolutely hold him in good stead in the league. I imagine in the next few games the defense will have instructions not to make contact and instead to make him hit a shot. We’ll see more about his offense then. Right now the verdict on his jumper is mixed, but it’s hard to tell with just one game. He certainly looks like he’ll be able to get it off when he wants.

We didn’t get to see much of Jerryd’s passing skills tonight. This was as much because of his teammates and the offense as anything. Somebody needed to take over this game and Jerryd decided he was that man. This is probably indicative of what we’ll see his rookie year. He’ll look to establish himself by scoring first unless the Blazers specifically tell him not to…which I don’t imagine they’d do. In any case the more Bayless settled into this game the better he looked and the more shots he took.

Bayless looks like he’ll have no trouble running the break, either as a ball-handler or finisher. He has good vertical speed.

Defense was more of a mixed bag. He absolutely knows where to put his body and is able to get himself to the right spot quickly. That’s a huge plus. He’s near the head of our point guard class in that dimension already. However you can tell he has a ways to go in terms of defensive court vision. He does a good job seeing his man but he’s not seeing plays yet. Also…and herein lies the rub…even when he got to the right spot defensively he wasn’t able to bother anyone’s jumper. Guys rained it down on him. This is a classic “tweener” symptom. There is some discussion as to Bayless’ actual height but it’s fair to say that he looks small for his height and he definitely defends like a small man. Any time spent at shooting guard in the foreseeable future will almost certainly be spent defending as a point.

Nicolas Batum  1-6 fg, 4 reb, 0 assts, 3 pts in 26 min

This game didn’t showcase Batum’s offensive skills much. The shots he did take (and he missed 5 of 6) were jumpers. He got them off quickly enough and got in the air, but open or covered, the shots didn’t fall. Other than those occasional early shots he pretty much disappeared in the offense. He stayed on the weak side most of the night and never called for the ball. On the few occasions he received it he gave it up again right away. This was not an aggressive effort from him.

However don’t throw in the towel on the guy quite yet. What you may not have picked up on TV was that Batum is almost certainly the farthest ahead of the “Little Three” defensively. Like Bayless he was able to move his body fairly well. He had his hands moving more than Bayless did. He was also able to watch more than just his man defensively, anticipating plays as well as the times and places to rotate. That’s a base upon which to build.

Petteri Koponen  7-13 fg, 4-6 3pt, 2 reb, 3 asst, 19 pts in 30 min

We got a mixed performance from Petteri tonight. He’s certainly farther along than he was at this time last year, which is a good sign. He’s FAR more active and comfortable in his own skin. He showed a couple of aggressive moves off of the dribble, a couple of nice dishes, and confidence in his shot. He missed open shots and hit more difficult ones but this is typical of both youth and Summer League. He’s not bankable, but he’s not bad.

Petteri’s passing skills were decent. His interior passing off of the drive was solid. His outside passing was not bad, but it wasn’t crisp. I don’t know if it was the company, the offense, or the point guard, but he got stymied quite a bit when a move wasn’t immediately evident. It’ll be interesting to see if he can take charge more in successive games. (However letting Bayless make hay tonight wasn’t a bad choice.)

Petteri doesn’t look as quick defensively as he does on offense. Nevertheless he managed to get around some screens and stay with his man. He wasn’t horrible by any means. Keep in mind that he’s not going against big-league competition here though. I’m not sure he could stay with a quick NBA point guard nor survive a really salty big-man pick.

As far as general impressions of the important members of this Summer League class, the thing that stood out tonight was that we aren’t replacing any outside shooting with this squad. The answer to James Jones’ departure doesn’t seem to be here (if once game can be trusted anyway). This may put a premium on the shooters we already have. Again…be careful of drawing conclusions from just one game.

We have another game tomorrow evening. Stay tuned!


P.S. I have to run to do radio in a few minutes so I can’t get you the exact quotes (watch Quick and Freeman for that) but here is a summary of Nate’s review of our two main guys:

--He was appreciative of Bayless’ ability to attack the basket, especially since he didn’t shy away from contact but created it. The willingness to give up one’s body is an asset.

--Jerryd also let the game come to him tonight. He played appropriately, within the flow of the game.

--They will probably want to see more of Jerryd at the point this week.

--Petteri did well but he needs to show the ability to create more.

--Both Bayless and Koponen appear to like the big shot.

--Both are straight-line guys when they attack and may have to move more.