Summer league backcourt balance: Bucks 69 – Pelicans 61

Ish heading to the hoop, as he often does. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Ish heading to the hoop, as he often does. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Another Milwaukee Bucks summer league game, another Milwaukee Bucks summer league win. The Bucks defeated the New Orleans Ho Pelicans 69-61 Sunday night thanks to a strong effort from their backcourt and a balanced scoring effort across the board.

The absence of John Henson took away Milwaukee’s biggest edge.

Saturday consisted of a lot of Milwaukee jumpers, which either resulted in a successful shot or an opportunity for a rebound and put back by Henson. It was a win-win. The Bucks didn’t have the luxury of Henson on Sunday. Milwaukee’s second-year power forward sat out the game against the Pelicans with what’s being called a sore right groin. No word on whether or not he’ll be back Tuesday, but bet on the Bucks not worrying about getting him many more summer league minutes. He showed he didn’t need them on Saturday.

Sunday, the Bucks had to get a bit more creative to get baskets. Milwaukee stayed in transition and pushed the pace even more than they did on Saturday, which was quite a bit. Ish Smith and Dominique Jones led the attack, finishing with 11 and 16 points respectively.


Ish has a fantastic handle and a very quick burst. He’s smart, knows when to attack and as often as possible looks to get the team into its offense as fast as possible. He hit a couple of floaters and dropped off a few very sweet passes, including a tip pass on a semi-loose ball at half court 20-feet ahead to a teammate running the break. He made an 11 point, four assist night look very good.

Of course, this is summer league, so it’s important to consider how he was getting points. Most of his baskets came on ventures into the paint, some of which would be a lot more difficult when true NBA players are playing. He attempted three 3-pointers, though two were of the buzzer beater variety. He made one off the dribble, which is cool to see, as he’s only hit 14 threes in almost 1200 NBA minutes.

Maybe he’ll never be a good 3-point shooter, but it’d be useful if he could at least add it to his scouting report, given how capable he is already at getting into the paint.


One of Ish’s nice passes was a pocket pass in a pick and roll with big man Chris Daniels a 6-foot-7 forward who played with Rio Grande in the D-League last year. With Henson out, Daniels moved into the starting lineup and provided couple things that were noticeable.

First, he always communicated well on defense. He was constantly yelling to his point guards whether or not they had to worry about a screen and alerting them with the sort of help he was providing in pick and roll situations. Not everyone was as vocal and clear as he was, so it was cool to see.

Second, he’s a big physical, tough guy. He played with an edge that reminded me of David West, one of the NBA’s resident tough guys. His toughness and his communicating skills on defense give him the fringe things that make a very good player.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite have the skills, size or mobility to be a serious roster contender. I’ll root for him, because I have a soft spot for super tough guys, but he doesn’t get off the ground very quick, is a smaller big guy and doesn’t have much of an offensive game. He wasn’t exactly glue for rebounds either. So these things are a bummer.

But man, the dunk he laid on Darius Miller. It can be found in video form here.


Dominique Jones was again very aggressive. His 16 points came on a 3-7 FG (10-12 FT) shooting effort. The shots he was making were similar to the ones he had success with on Saturday night. Attacks deep into the paint where he was able to over power back pedaling guards. These are a real strength for him. At 6-foot-4, he has the size to take it right into most point guards and finish through them in transition. In the half court, he attacked with the same sort of ferocity and determination, resulting in those 12 free throw attempts.

But his aggressiveness still got him into some trouble on both sides of the ball. He came out too hard defensively a few times and coughed up four turnovers Sunday after having six on Saturday.


John Shurna came as advertised. He was hard to notice most of the time. He started the second half at one of the power positions and wasn’t a sieve or anything like that inside. But there were very specific times when he was very noticeable: When he caught on the perimeter.

The 6-foot-9 forward who played in France last season was 3-3 on threes. He has kind of a funny release, described by Frank Madden on Twitter as ‘Bill Cartwright sped up by 50.’ But the release is effective. After his second three swished through without so much as grazing the rim, Larry Sanders (parked on the end of the bench showing his teammates support) shouted, “You don’t have to miss. It’s not in the rule book.”

So … he didn’t.

Categories: Summer League

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  1. I know Im not alone as far as liking Jones size (6’5″ with 6’9″ wingspan) and liking his game, I tried to dig a little deeper on him and have come up with some stats that folks might (or might not) find a bit interesting.

    Above is a link to his shot chart from last season with the Mavericks where he attempted 109 shots on the season 53 of which were at the rim for 49% (Not very good but he’s still raw) What I found interesting is that he played all but 5 of his 338 minutes at the Point guard position (according to which in my opinion is not his natural spot…

    I think if utilized as a shooting guard who drives to the basket, slashes and tries to draw fouls (something the Bucks really could use) he could have some decent value. His Per 36 minutes have him at 5.6 FTA per game. For comparison his current teammates that play on the wing OJ Mayo and Carlos Delfino averaged 2.9 FTA and 1.2

    Think of him as a Rodney Stuckey type player who comes off of the bench. Jones as a secondary ball handler can attack the hoop trying to get to the rim and draw fouls or have the option to drive and kick it out to 3 point line to Wolters or Ridnour (whomever is at the point) or Ersan as the strech 4. Floor spacing was a bit of an issue for him in Dallas when he played point guard and shared the court with only one other legitimate outside shooting threat (OJ Mayo) Perhaps surrounding him with more shooters could provide him with better driving lanes to the hoop.

    I realize these are very small sample sizes and that this is a big time reach as far as potential on court situations/matchups, but nonetheless I like his game and I think he merits consideration to fill in the current backup SG spot that the Bucks have and could be had at a very cheap contract.

    • Problem is other than Mayo (SG) and Delfino (SF/SG), not counting Jennnings at this time, who is a decent 3-pt shooting guard on this team. Ridnour’s 3% has dropped noticeably since his last season here. Ish can’t shoot 3s, I don’t know what to expect from Wolters though and I have to wonder if John Shurna could play for us at SG?

      PG: ______, Ridnour, Smith, Wolters, Jones?, Mayo
      SG: Mayo, Ridnour, Delfino, Wolters, Shurna?, Jones?
      SF: Delfino?, Bo?, Shurna?, Ilyasova?
      PF: Henson, Ilyasova, Udoh, Ayon, Sanders, Gooden?
      C: Sanders, Ayon, Udoh, Pachulia, Gooden?

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