In a game that ultimately means nothing, things certainly got dramatic. The Bucks dropped their summer league opener against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night in grand, overtime fashion, 73-72.
Milwaukee took a 66-64 lead on a Deron Washington offensive rebound putback after an errant 3-pointer from Darnell Jackson. Yes, that Darnell Jackson. Milwaukee’s first option appeared to be Larry Sanders, but after the play broke down, Dominic James drove and kicked it to Jackson in the corner where he had to get a shot up. Fortunately, Washington was on the spot and able to convert what appeared to be the game winning basket.
Alas, J.R. Giddens of Dallas sent the game into overtime with a buzzer beating catch and shoot lob backdoor play with .3 seconds remaining.
But the theatrics would continue. After a three from Rodrigue Beaubois put the Mavs up two with under 30 seconds to go, Washington gave the Bucks a one point lead with a three of his own. With less than six seconds on the clock, Beaubois calmly came back down and hit a jumper from the left elbow to give the Mavs a victory.
But summer league is about so much more than who wins and who loses. It’s about guys like Larry Sanders. One thing Sanders wasn’t worried about in his NBA debut, was being perfect.
And that’s probably a good thing.
“I’m not going to be perfect and I’m not thinking about being perfect,” said Sanders after his Monday summer league debut. “Coach Skiles told me to focus on controlling what I can control and don’t try to be perfect.”
Six turnovers, five fouls and 4-15 shooting later, Larry Sanders had finished his NBA debut. Those aren’t perfect numbers. But things weren’t all bad for Sanders.
Nine points, three blocks and seven rebounds are all numbers the Bucks are interested in seeing. Even more interesting was Sanders style of play and always running motor. The Bucks young power forward was hell bent on blocking every shot he could, the kind of effort the Bucks expected when the drafted Sanders 15th overall in June.
Occasionally, it paid off, like when he rejected an Omar Samhan attempt inside in the third quarter. Other times it didn’t go as well, like when Jeremy Lin drew a Sanders foul on a fast break and finished for the and-1.
Still, defensively his effort was good.
However, as expected, Sanders offensive game appeared a ways behind his defense. As rough as his night on offense was, there certainly were flashes that he could be a capable scorer down the road. Like the fadeaway jumper out of the block for two in the second quarter. Or the mid-range jumper that hit nothing but net in the third.
But that’s not why the Bucks wanted Sanders. The Bucks front office acknowledged that adding length and athleticism were two things high on their to-do list this off season. Their hope is that adding Sanders can go a long way towards helping on both fronts. They’ll live with his offensive limitations and hope that his aggressiveness on defense results in more blocks than fouls. If he can block a shot or two and grab a handful of rebounds every night, that’s all Milwaukee will ask of him.
- Jackson was clearly Milwaukee’s most effective offensive player, racking up 17 points on a variety of layups, short jump shots and free throws. It’s only logical that Jackson would be the Bucks best player, given his two years in the league. It was clear he was a more experienced player, from his extra passes to his being the first one off the bench to check on teammate Dominic James after he flew into the first row of media seats.
- My thoughts on Sanders debut can be found above and in addition I’ll note that I like Frank Madden of BrewHoop comparing him to an early career Dan Gadzuric. Remember, there was a reason the Bucks wanted to resign Gadz to that 6 year $36 million contract, he was above average. Sanders activity brought back memories of him and additionally, his jump shot was not cringe inducing, despite its inaccuracy.
- Washington had his crowd pleasing dunk that I assured would come and was very effective as a defender. He worked hard, hustled and was often in the right place at the right time. He finished with 11 points and eight rebounds in an effective Bucks debut.
- Point guard looks like it may be a problem this week. Paul Delaney was a little wild early and never really settled into a groove. He had five turnovers, one assists and failed to hit any of his three shots. Not the first impression I’m sure he wanted to make. Meanwhile, James impressed with his hustle and quickness, especially on the defensive end. He has the makings of an impressive summer league defender, on the strength of his ability to put pressure on the ball alone. He earned the majority of the point guard minutes and contributed five assists against just two turnovers.
- As for the Bucks second round selection Tiny Gallon, he earned mixed reviews. It was fun to see him hit a three, but he was ineffective in his attempts to post up Samhan. Of course, Samhan isn’t some dude off the street, he’s a bruiser down low for the Mavs and an accomplished college player. We didn’t get to see much of Gallon, as he only played seven minutes. But we did get to see plenty of him shooting, as he got off five shots. He seemed to be a willing participant in hedging on screens, something that the Bucks will encourage. Gallon earned himself quite a pep talk from a very animated Glen Davis. Davis sat court side and had more than an earful for Gallon post game. Gery Woelfel tweeted that they’ve known each other since Gallon was a freshman in high school. Gallon seemed receptive and Davis was encouraging, good to see a younger player like Gallon get some guidance from a veteran friend.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com