Getting close now, and with FA musical chairs winding down and the Clips hiring a coach, it's time for a little summer basketball. I have to say, I'm pretty excited about the roster.
Bledsoe-Warren-Aminu-Sofo-Jordan. Is it just me, or is that an awesome lineup?
Warren is the weak link, and my expectations are low. And I'll temper my Sofo/Jordan enthusiasm with the idea that they probably won't play too much together. But they should be pretty effective when they do, so that will be really fun. Let's break it down a little bit.
Aminu. I'm most interested to see this defensive intensity we've heard about, along with the rebounding. It seems like he should be a pretty effective summer league player, where athleticism and effort can turn into easy baskets in a more wide open game. And it will be interesting to see how he functions in the role of obvious starter and marquee player, although he will be neither of those things in the regular season. But the important thing is seeing him moving around on the court and getting a sense of his approach and feel for the game. In a best case scenario, he's the other side of the Blake Griffin coin, where BG is the PF with a lot of SF stuff going on, and Aminu is the SF who makes a lot of PF plays. Summer league should be a good venue for him.
Eric Bledsoe. No better opportunity to get a good look at what we hope is a diamond in the rough. Again, athleticism is a big factor. It's funny to remember the banner recent PG and tweener drafts, when we were watching Eric Gordon and measuring him against so many other guys. I'm trying to remember some of the second tier guys, and wondering if they'll be around. If I know very little about Aminu, I know even less about Bledsoe, and no one has really seen him running a team and playing on a roster that doesn't have John Wall on it. My guess is that he'll be a bit raw, but very promising and fairly productive, I hope. But who knows. He's slotted to have the opportunity to play an important role on the team, and we should have some sense of whether he has any chance of doing that after we see him play a few games.
So that's two eagerly anticipated debuts. What's next?
DJordan. I'm going with DJ over Sofo because I would like to see some real improvement. The downside is that DJ was great to watch and extremely complementary with Griffin last summer, and we won't get to see their combined force here. But this is a great opportunity for DJ to show that he's a force unto himself. Is there anybody that he'll be up against who should be able to stop him? If DJ is going to be a poor man's Dwight Howard, this is the place to play that role, and to show a little domination. He'll need help from Bledsoe and some of the other guards getting him into position to make plays, but there should be a lot of stuff that he can do on his own. As a third year player I don't know that he'll play a whole lot of games, but the more he plays the better. This should be a fun warm up for the preseason, when he'll be back on the court with Griffin. It would be great for DJordan to show some maturity and polish and to see him finding ways to use his athleticism and length. He and Griffin must be back at it again, going full bore, and his teammates Griffin and BDavis and Gordon will be there pushing him, expecting more out of him than the other guys.
Sofo. This is an SP/zhiv dream come true, and we've been waiting a long time for it. In case any one doesn't know, SP is very high on his BFGC. I saw SP the other day, when I was exploring the possibility of making a run at Pierce, and SP just wanted to make sure that there was some money left for Sofo. One of our citizens was making the case for Rhino, and SP was defiant: if you think Rhino can move people around and make plays in the paint, you should know that Sofo is a house and can be completely unstoppable down on the block, making him an immediate double team. The pick and roll with Sofo could be outrageous, SP noted. As for me, a lot of citizens know I have a soft spot for the underdog big man, the tall tree who shows up unannounced at the first tryout and turns out to be a dominant player. Still waiting for that guy, although Kaman is finally making us proud. It goes back to hoping for Benoit Benjamin and Stanley Roberts and even, ahem, Michael Olowokandi. It wasn't Chris Wilcox (why can't he be Amare? maybe he still can!), Big Z got hurt, and then I pulled hard for a series of disappointing candidates. Paul Davis, Josh Powell, even DeAndre Jordan up above right here, who might still be the One (or maybe the Two, alongside Griffin. Nah. He just needs to be pretty good.) But the disorder of irrational big man optimism will probably always be known as the Fazekas syndrome, correct? Go ahead, make fun. Just be prepared: I'm completely ready to lose my mind about Sofo. I know it's not going to work out, but I can't help myself. I can't wait to see the guy play.
That's more than enough right there, isn't it? I like the return of Caner-Medley, who seems like a great candidate for a roster spot, and we already know he's a good summer league player. Is there anybody else anybody is interested in? I have very low expectations on Warren, and don't expect to be surprised, but he does round out the starting lineup, at least for the first game.
And I have to say that going into the draft I really didn't expect the summer league roster to come together like this and to be this intriguing. It's even going to be interesting to see who is coaching the team.