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Vegas, Baby - Steve's First Day as a Cub Reporter Covering Summer League

Truthfully, it was all pretty uneventful.  I arrived in Vegas in time to catch the two late games Sunday, Grizzlies vs. Thunder followed by Bucks vs. Cavs.  By the time I got to the Cox Pavillion, all the table top media positions were taken, and being a newbie I didn't realize there were some seats in the stands reserved for overflow media.  So I just found any seat and started watching.  I pulled out the laptop and liveblogged part of the first game, but not having the best laptop battery, that didn't last real long.

The best part of the day was meeting other bloggers I ostensibly work with.  PhoenixStan of Bright Side of the Sun, Frank from BrewHoop, AusTechSpur from Pounding the Rock, JSams from Liberty Ballers and Ridiculous Scott were all there from SBNation.  I also met Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys and FanHouse, and I said Hi to Kevin in passing.  Hopefully there will be more time to pick bloggers brains over the next few days.

The games I watched were nothing special - pretty boring really.  Memphis absolutely dominated Oklahoma City.  Now, I know that summer league doesn't matter at all, but shouldn't a team with Russell Westbrook, Shaun Livingston, James Harden, Kyle Weaver, D.J. White, B.J. Mullens - I mean, seriously, the Thunder have like half next season's roster here - is it not a little embarrassing that they should get blown out?

Shaun looked good every way except one - he could not make a jump shot to save his life.  And let's face it - that's been a problem and he may never be an effective NBA player if he can't.

There are various observations in the game thread I posted for that game.  The surprise player of the game was Marcus Williams (the UConn point guard, not the UofA small forward).  He's lost a bunch of weight, and he distributed the ball really well for Memphis (17 assists versus 1 turnover - that's unheard of in summer league).  Hasheem Thabeet has bust written all over him - I know I'm not the first to say it, but I just don't see an NBA player there.  Say what you will about DeAndre Jordan's shortcomings, but when he gets the ball near the basket he FINISHES.  I like that.  I did not see that at all in Thabeet.  And 0 defensive rebounds in 20 minutes?  It's not like OKC wasn't missing.  Get a rebound!

(Disclaimer - when they used to hold summer league games in Long Beach I went every year.  I'm often right about this stuff, but not always.  I had Amare Stoudemire as rookie of the year after summer league, but then again I thought Chris Bosh was going to be a bust.  So we'll see.)

Sadly for ClipsNation, Daniel Ewing was ill and did not play for the Grizzlies today.

The nightcap between the Bucks and the Cavs was one of those summer league games featuring two teams moving in very different directions.  The Cavs, having signed Shaq last month, are very intent on winning a title NOW.  The Bucks on the other hand traded Richard Jefferson, allowed Charlie Villanueva to leave as a free agent, may or may not retain RFA Ramon Sessions, and are rumored to be shopping Michael Redd (a rumor, which ironically was circulating in Cox Pavillion just before this game started).  But in the bizarro world of Vegas, it's the lottery team with talent, and the Championship contender with nobody - lots of lottery picks and roster players for the Bucks, Danny Green and pretty much nobody else for the Cavs (first round pick Christian Eyenga is here, but won't be on the Cavs next season because he'll stay in Europe).  Given the Redd rumors, I joked to PhoenixStan that you could add Andrew Bogut and we'd be watching the regular season Bucks. 

Not much to say about the game - it was quite ragged.  Brandon Jennings finished with a nice line - 23 points, 8 assists and 5 steals - but he had better be good this year, because I guarantee you he is going to piss some people off.  (As we were leaving the arena, I said to Frank "Jennings and Skiles is going to be very interesting this year" and I think Jennings' mother might have heard me - you have to be careful here.)  The first four possessions of the second half he made 3 long jumpers and had an assist after a steal - and coach Kelvin Sampson (Eric Gordon's college coach at IU, btw) pulled him.  I don't know if it was causal, but Jennings was really strutting at that point, and it was probably a little message from the coach - cool it rook.

Jennings, Luc Richard Mbah-a-Moute and Amir Johnson all have a shot at starting for the Bucks.  Jody Meeks could play, especially if Redd is dealt.  And of course Joe Alexander was a lottery pick last year, although it turns out he pretty much can't play at all.  (He is a complete freak of an athlete, though.)  So the Bucks are the classic "good summer league team, terrible NBA team". 

I assume that the place will be packed tomorrow for Blake's debut.  The schedule includes games at Cox and at Thomas and Mack tomorrow for the first time, so it will get a little more hectic.  My plan is to cover the early games at Cox, but to head to Thomas and Mack as soon as they're letting media in so that I can make sure and get a table top position for the Clippers game.  If you're in the building tomorrow, look for me - I'll be wearing a red cap with a Mini logo on it*.  I'll try to sit nearer on edge or the other of the media tables so you won't have too much trouble if you want to stop by and say hi.

* I have a large bald spot, and I pretty much wear a baseball cap constantly - to keep the sun off, not because I'm vain, yeah, that's it.  At any rate, in normal circumstances, I'm wearing a Clippers cap - I have about 20 probably.  As I was leaving Long Beach today, I had to go back into the car to get a different cap.  My wife asked me why I was stealing hers (she's the Mini driver).  I said I couldn't wear a Clippers cap, because I was officially with the media and I could be 'biased'.  That made her laugh.  It is pretty funny, when you think about it.