Two years ago, I watched Larry Sanders carve up defenses with a smooth looking jump shot, wreak havoc with his shot-blocking and even make a clutch 3-pointer to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in a game.
As soon as the actual regular season started, I learned I’d have to temper my future expectations and projections based off summer league performances.
But for now, it’s fun to dream about what some of these summer league Bucks could become.
Lamb was aggressive in everything early. He shot when he was open. He cut very hard. He rubbed shoulders on screens and changed speeds quickly. Offensively, he was filling the same role he’ll likely take on in Milwaukee – running off screens and being asked to make some decisions with the ball after the initial action. On his very first possession, he came off that screen and pulled up without hesitation for an open jumper – He doesn’t lack of confidence in himself.
Lamb showed he’s more than just a pretty shot too, often taking it to the basket decisively after coming off curls. Surprisingly, his 6-12 shooting and 20 points came without a 3-pointer, but did come with an 8-9 effort from the free throw line.
When John Hammond spent some time in the both, there was quite a bit of talk about Lamb as a potentially effective combo guard as he develops. That’s certainly a player type the Bucks have coveted over the past few years – Monta Ellis, Beno Udrih, Shaun Livingston and Keyon Dooling fit that definition to varying degree. At just 21-years-old, the Bucks feel like he has some room to grow and as a second round pick with what they felt like was first round talent, the necessary chip on his shoulder to do just that.
Harris looked patient and professional, which is surely the benefit of being a second year pro in the rookie dominated summer league. But it isn’t always that easy (see Sanders, Larry), so give the young Harris some credit. Seeing him leak out early in the game and finish after a nice look from Aaron Miles was terrific, as that kind of bust out move is where he can really create some chaos so long as the Bucks continue to push the pace the way they did near the end of last season.
Wells flashed some defensive skills, hounding Hornets first round pick Austin Rivers into a timeout by nearly picking his dribble clean from him. Wells looked like a classic point guard on the other end, hitting his spots and neatly distributing to teammate sin spots where they could catch and make a move. With four turnovers, he certainly had his share of missteps, but he did look more poised than overseas veteran Aaron Miles.
“It’s a sad day when you foul out of summer league.” – Hornets Coach Monty Williams, while in the announcer booth on Monday night.
It was a sad day.
This wasn’t exactly Sanders staking his claim among the many power forwards in Milwaukee. Again, with either the good and the bad, it’s probably not fair to read too much into summer league action – we’ve seen that with Sanders going the other way before, so let’s give him a bit of the benefit of the doubt now. But, the fouls. 10 of them for Larry, enough to boot him from the game. The problem that’s plagued Sanders in his two seasons as a pro wasn’t fixed with lesser competition. He loves to bite on pump fakes. He’s not always where he needs to be when he needs to be there and that leads to some blocking fouls. The same problems as ever.
But then there were times when it looked like he had position on Monday night … at least until he brought his two hands down from up high into the oncoming offensive player. These are the kinds of moves he probably can’t afford to make. Keep the hands back, absorb the contact and move on Larry. Learn how to be there and draw the occasional charge. This will change your career and keep you on the court. Or don’t do it and watch Ekpe Udoh play all of the minutes we once thought you would get.
Need more Mbenga.