John Henson was very obviously the most talented player the Bucks were putting on the floor. And he was more talented than anyone the Nuggets were putting on the floor too. That’s something that we should all have seen coming, since he was a first round pick last season and has a year of well played NBA experience under his belt. But if you recall last summer, we weren’t saying the same things about Larry Sanders. Henson has far more control over himself and his activity entering year two than Sanders seemed to have entering year three.
He finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. In just over 20 minutes.
He did a nice job making himself a big target when rolling to the hoop after screens and he was very active on the offensive glass. Overall, he was super polished, super long, super … good. I don’t know how else to describe it. He was a beast around the hoop. John Henson was too strong for his opponents. John Henson. That’s who I’m talking about right now.
It was fun to see. Maybe not the most informative 20 minutes of a player’s career, but still fun to see. More coming on Henson tomorrow.
It’s easy to see why Dominique Jones was once a late first round talent. He’s quick, he’s creative and he’s strong. He can hammer at the rim. He can take contact and finish. He spent much of the first half forcing his way into the paint for layups and assists.
But … it’s also easy to see why he’s still toiling in summer league. He’s wild with the ball, which can be partially attributed to his aggressiveness and partially attributed to some general carelessness. Defensively he hounds ball handlers with the same nasty approach, but he got caught over pursuing a couple times. He’s kind of like a defensive end that’s always going for the sack and occasionally gets beat on the run.
Overall, he had an up and down game that really accurate relayed his forcefulness: 18 points on 6-10 FG (1-1 3FG, 5-5 FT) and six turnovers. He competed hard on both ends, which he seemed to attribute to his focus on playing a “complete game.” This was a big thing with Jones.
“I’m just trying to play a complete game,” he said after the game. “Whatever they give you, if it’s jump shots or floaters in the lane or whatever. We just trying to win the tournament.”
“I think this is an opportunity for me to get back to doing what I do. Playing a complete game. Not just playing the point guard, not just playing the two, just playing a complete game.”
Jones recognizes the opportunity in front of him, but is focused on not pressing.
“I need to just go play,” he said. “I know I’m a good player. I know I’m an NBA player. I done did it in the NBA before. I had my games. I just need to go play my game. Whatever falls in my hands, wherever I land, it’s just meant to happen.”
Gustavo Ayon is pretty good when he gets the ball in his hands and he seems to have a good feel for the game. On one play after he set a screen for Ish Smith, he did a very nice job of clearing out two defenders with his body as the play developed. He finished around the hoop in a very strong way a number of times too. He finished with a respectable eight points and four rebounds in just under 20 minutes. He was 4-4 from the field.
But his teammates often seemed frustrated with him for not knowing where he was supposed to be. That was a problem Ayon had on occasion last year too. Granted, he didn’t have much time in Milwaukee last year and this summer league team has only practiced together for a week or so, but it’s possible the language barrier is playing a role here. He speaks significantly less English than even a Ersan Ilyasova. That’s me speculating, but he for sure struggles to know where he’s supposed to be.
Ish Smith seems so fast. I can’t tell if he seems fast because he’s unrelentingly pushing the ball up the court every chance he gets or if it’s because he’s just actually crazy fast. But he’s got it and I loved the way he used it against the Nuggets. He was getting in the paint often and leaving off passes to big men at the hoop. He actually reminded me a bit of Marquis Teague, who played for the Bulls in the game before and was very impressive with his creativeness and ability to handle the ball.
Smith’s stats betray my words a bit: He had just six points and two assists in 19 minutes, but trust that he looked good heading to the hoop. His jump shot is still a work in progress, but he did hit one perimeter jumper. So that’s good.