The Suns scored 44 points in the first half of the game I'm currently watching - the Clippers scored 50 total last night. The team is shooting 32% from the field. In the nightcap tonight, the play the Trailblazers, one of the more impressive teams in Las Vegas, both on paper and in their 2-0 start on the court.
The Blazers summer league roster features three players from last season's roster (Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph and Patty Mills) plus first round pick Luke Babbitt. The game will also hold some special interest for some of the Citizens of ClipsNation given the WCC influence of the Blazers. In addition to St. Marys Gael Mills, Portland Pilot Nik Raivio is also on the team (though he hasn't gotten onto the floor for them yet). And if you've been following the conference as long as I have, you remember when Nevada(Babbitt and Armon Johnson) was in the conference (though the Wolfpack were called Nevada-Reno and the conference was called the WCAC at the time). It looks like Pendergraph may not play today - he's questionable, like the yogurt in my fridge.
Aside from the first five minutes on Wednesday, the Clippers have been so astoundingly bad that one is tempted to say that they can only get better. We'll see.
The first round picks have each shown somebrief signs of promise - amidst eternities of ineptitude. Eric Bledsoe needs to get less aggressive (i.e. under control) while Al-Farouq Aminu has to get more aggressive. I'd also like to see Willie Warren do a little more. If indeed he was ever worthy of his erstwhile lottery hype, he should be able to do more here. We keep talking about how it's a guard's league... well, he's a guard. Warren has made 6 of 13 shots in Vegas, which is a sizzling as the weather outside compared to most of his teammates. Let him run the point some more. Let him create. It couldn't hurt, and let's see what he's got.
The magic of the Clippers logo is pretty amazing, if you consider that Trey Johnson and Jeremy Richardson have both spent some time in the NBA - but have looked as bad as all the other sailors on the Clippers ship.
Positives, positives... um, AFA has rebounded pretty well. Actually, he's leading the team in both points and rebounds, though doing so with some pretty terrible 6 for 24 shooting. Bledsoe has shown that he can get into the lane - now if he can only find something positive to do when he gets there, we'll be onto something. Sofoklis Schortsanitis had a good second half yesterday, rebounding and defending well while wreaking some havoc around the basket. The bottom line is going to have to be making shots. As in will they?
The matchup to watch in this game is of course Aminu and Babbitt. The Clippers worked out Babbitt, in case AFA wasn't available at eight. In many ways, Babbitt would be a better fit for the team now (he's a great shooter, he's more ready to contribute now), but AFA is perceived to have the higher ceiling. It also remains to be seen if Babbitt is a three or a stretch four in the NBA.
Another intriguing aspect of this game (but not really, I just thought of it is all) is Dean Demopolous facing his old team. Demopolous is a well respected, defense first assistant in the league, but the question no one has been asking is, "Why is he available? Why did the Blazers not renew his contract?" The answer seems to be something like the answer to the question of why Kevin Pritchard is no longer the GM in Portland: who knows? The Portland ownership group is pretty dysfunctional - and they for some reason cleaned house this summer, keeping only Nate McMillan from the coaching staff.