Cavaliers 70 – Bucks 68 (Bucks fans who care about the score: 0 Bucks fans happy about Giannis and Jabari: All)

jabari coast-to-coast
Jabari Parker goes coast-to-coast and attacks Matthew Deledova

My travels to the Cox Pavilion on Friday night to watch what I already knew was a much anticipated Las Vegas Summer League game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers (read those last 14 words a few more times, let them sink in) were not smooth travels. On top of that, I did not assume I needed to stake out a seat too far in advance in the media section. There are always open seats when the Bucks play.

My travels cost me and my arrogance punished me.

I knew this game was going to be a draw, but I didn’t realize HOW much of a draw it would be. Summer League typically is sold out throughout the first weekend, but I hadn’t seen quite this many people in the small college gym sized Cox Pavilion. To say the least, when I finally arrived looking for a seat 15 minutes before tip, there were no media seats to be had.

I backtracked and entered the gym through a different entrance, skipping a long line that I didn’t quite understand (a media pass is a nice thing). It turns out that line was the waiting list to get into the gym. People who were leaving were told they would not be allowed re-entry, as the gym had reached its maximum capacity. The only thing that got me in was my aforementioned pass. But that didn’t get me a seat. I did without.

I scoped out a garbage can with a lid that had real estate around it. I hustled over to it and set up shop. For the next two hours, I was a Bucks blogging Oscar the Grouch. How appropriate.

With the garbage can supporting my bag, I was happy enough. This would be my spot and I’d get to enjoy the fruits of Milwaukee’s struggles last season in the form of a more experienced Giannis Antetokounmpo and the highly anticipated rookie Jabari Parker.

I did not come away disappointed.

No, they didn’t look like a pair that would lead the Bucks to a special season very soon. But that’s okay. That’s not the plan. The plan is for them to get their feet wet together, develop some chemistry and be part of something bigger in three or four years. Both Giannis and Parker displayed one flash after the next that made it clear why suddenly Bucksketball and Brewhoop weren’t the only blogs watching the Bucks play a summer league game.

A knock on Parker has been his athleticism. Well he took the ball the length of the court and finished through contact with finger rolls on multiple occasions. We’ve been so caught up on sprints and vertical leap that we discounted Parker’s strength and fluidity combination. It looked like he had both in spades.

It wasn’t just in transition where Parker looked like a capable scoring threat coming to a regular season game near you soon. W the Bucks were down two and needed a basket with under a minute to play, they went to Parker in the post out of a sideline inbound. Parker went to work and got to the rim, not off a face up move, mind you, for an easy layup.

And don’t think that he can’t make a big play that leaves you impressed with him physically. After Giannis earned a tough and-1 late in the game, the second year forward missed his free throw. Parker zipped by the defender trying to box him out and almost tip slammed the missed free throw, but saw his dunk rim out. He demonstrated a combination of quickness and explosion that we’ve been told didn’t exist in his upside-less body

This was not a performance without flaw though. At times Parker looked winded. At times he looked a bit out of control. At times he … looked like a rookie playing in his first summer league game. Consistency is an issue, for both Parker and Giannis. Parker was calm after the game, not too revved up or down about his performance.

Parker v. Wiggins: Volume 1
Parker v. Wiggins: Volume 1  (AP Photo/John Locher)

“I thought I did okay,” Parker said. “About 80%. I wasn’t trying to force stuff, but I gotta be a little more smart.”

Giannis had his ups and downs too. You’ve likely seen some of the highlights by now. He had a number of plays that we’ve almost come to expect from him at this point, though they didn’t come as often last season as they did on Friday. One dunk of his was especially rim-rattling and powerful. Powerful wasn’t an adjective used to describe him last season.

There was decisiveness to what Giannis was doing. He was attacking more in the half court and playing with some certainty, which he rarely did last season, especially early on. This wasn’t stand in the corner Giannis. This was dribble-drive or dribble-dribble-dribble-pull-up-for-three-over-Anthony-Bennett-Giannis. Sometimes it led to problems for him, but the coaching staff is looking for aggressiveness.

“Anybody on the floor …we don’t want unaggressive players,” Coach Sean Sweeney said after the game. “If you’re out there, your job is to be aggressive. And along with being aggressive, it’s having balance. Be aggressive and have balance.”

Sweeney was specifically talking about Parker when spoke of aggression, but the same could be said for Giannis. There was a lot connecting the two of them Friday night. The eyes of the crowd were on them both, each drew a share of oohs and ahhs and both were asked about the other by the media after the game. This is the life they’ll have to get used to – the life of building blocks.

“I think we did real good,” Parker said of his work with Giannis. “I think we did good. We need to communicate with each other a little bit more better, offensively and defensively.”

At the buzzer, Parker finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. Giannis had 17 too. But the point totals and stats weren’t so important. Summer league isn’t about results; it’s about the process. Who am I kidding? It’s about the highlights and the dreams. The Bucks gave their fans plenty of each on Friday.

Categories: Summer League

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  1. kungfusuperstar

    First time I found myself actually excited to see a summer league game. I was a little disappointed to watch the highlights on ESPN after the game and seeing only Cavs plays in it. Kind of par for the course with them and any Bucks game, summer or otherwise. It’s ok though, brighter days coming with those two.

    • Totes agree about ESPN, they can win 120-67 in a sweep of the NBA Finals over a team of no-names and still ESPN would show highlights of the other team and maybe whoever was in the crowd. Also totes agree about being excited to see a summer league game. Haven’t watched it all yet, have it dvr’d, but itching to focus on a couple players’ games.

      • I’ve really lost a lot of my enthusiasm for ESPN. They’ll interview Kobe about what he eats for breakfast, or talk to LeBron’s third-grade teacher, and then maybe show 12 seconds of highlights from the Bucks game, with all of it on the other team.

        At least NBA TV shows something from every game and usually has one or two highlights of the Bucks.

        In general though — maybe it’s just me — I’d prefer to see a lot more highlights and a lot less interviews. For example, I used to really like the Chris Berman/Tom Jackson show, “Primetime,” with a somewhat extended look into all of the NFL games — giving a little feel for what happened in the course of a game. Now even that’s gone.

        Nowadays, I tend to tape the highlight shows on the different sports channels, and then fast forward to the Bucks/Brewers/Packers — that is if they’re even covered at all.

        • Yeah, there are just so many better ways to take in sports than ESPN. The chat show thing has taken over, to the detriment of people who believed that 24 hour coverage would mean more complete coverage. Instead of being forced to talk about small market teams, the space is filled with stale gossip that is grating for markets big and small. I hope that televised journalism grows up someday soon.

    • My first impression of JOB was really, really good.

      I was concerned he might be too heavy, just because he wasn’t picked until the second round, and I assumed he must have some kind of flaw such as a weight issue. I was so happy to see that he has some good bulk but also looks really athletic, as well (compared to, say, Anthony Bennett, who still looks a little overweight to me, or somewhat disproportionate in his body makeup, although I might be wrong and wish him well, too.)

      Also, JOB looks like he has some basketball skills to go along with his athleticism, which bodes well for continual improvement. What’s neat is that he has a body type that isn’t common on the Bucks, and so can play a unique role of bruiser who can also contribute significantly in other facets of the game.

      It’s hard to tell yet, but I’m excited about him as possibly an immediate contributor off the bench and an eventual starter with a really high upside. Maybe I’m getting carried away….

      • Granted all film on JOB is against college players and summer league players, but I agree with Swisch, JOB is a nice change of pace forward from the type of players we have , and not sure or not if he will become a starter, but at the very least I can see him as a beast on the bench squad..

    • kungfusuperstar

      Agreed, Bucks could use a few heavier power players down low to come off the bench.

  2. I’ve been hearing at odds and ends places that the Bucks are looking into acquiring Roy Hibbert from the Pacers but haven’t seen any discussion on the blogosphere. Anyone got any opinions or thoughts on that? Not a fan personally.

    • I’d much rather go with what we already have on the roster.

      The guy I’m kind of intrigued about — but don’t know much about — is Greg Monroe. Might he prosper in a different environment?

      • kungfusuperstar

        Monroe wants a max contract and from what I hear his agent specializes in just that. I personally don’t think he’s a max player at this point, good but not great.

      • I too was feeling kind of high on a sign and trade of G.Monroe to the Bucks, but take a look at G.Monroe’s free agent DraftExpress strengths/weaknesses video and see a player who can bring a pretty good game on offense around the hoop though without much explosiveness, but struggles mightily on defense. After watching that video I’m not sold on the idea that adding G.Monroe over a L.Sanders is really value added for the Bucks.

        • Appreciate the comments from other fans. I’m reluctant to trade Larry, anyway, if he shows real signs of turning his life around.

          My idea was to trade a guy who wasn’t working out that well for us for a guy who maybe wasn’t working out that well for another team. Maybe both players and both teams would benefit.

          That may not be the case here. I’m generally averse to trading our guys unless there is a compelling reason that hopefully benefits the Bucks and the particular player. I’m really happy to keep Larry with us if he’s dedicated to excellence for the Bucks, and for himself.

          • Swisch – I’m watching Scott Suggs with Miami right now and find myself actively rooting for him. He just rimmed out a three and I felt a genuine disappointment it didn’t drop. You’ve gotten through.

          • Thanks, Jeremy!

            I’ve been trying to find Scott Suggs in the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues, and to my knowledge this is his first action. I’m still rooting him on!

            Now with your kind alert, I’ve been able to DVR the rebroadcast at 3 a.m. central time.

    • kungfusuperstar

      Most of where I hear this rumor from is the Racine Journal-Times and Gerry Woefel. I wouldn’t read to much into him about anything concerning Larry Sanders or him being replaced by fill in the blank player from wherever. He seems to have a thing against Larry personally from the interviews I’ve read/heard. I’m not sure of the source of his problems with him but they do seem pretty apparent. Almost to the point of that’s all you ever hear about from him as far as rumors.

      From what I’ve read Jason Kidd wanted to trade Brook Lopez for Sanders and Ersan last year because he did like Lopez’ game. I believe he thought of him as too plodding for what he wanted. Hibbert isn’t any more mobile than Lopez so I would be surprised if that gets done.

  3. Please excuse me for possibly overdoing it with the comments. I guess I’m really excited about the Bucks this season, especially if our coaching comes through, if we don’t make any wild trades or signings, and if, perhaps, we acquire a quick and crafty point guard to complement Nate.

  4. greg monroe is a good score-first young Big, but he’s not a rim protector nor a particularly great defender. it seems to me a healthy and motivated SANDERS! would still be a great fit for this team. he can defend, rebound and block shots, all which trigger the transition game where jabari, knight and giannis thrive.

    roy hibbert is an interesting question…Sanders and Ilyasova for Hibbert and something to make the salaries work? I’m just spit-balling.

  5. I wonder about Greg Monroe if he has the potential to improve his defense. When Boris Diaw went to the Spurs, he went from dud to stud, from pear to bear. I wonder if Monroe would respond well to a change of place. As noted above, I like the guys who combine bulk with athleticism.

    I’d be very reluctant to trade Larry, but I wonder if both guys would benefit from a new start. I’d be even more reluctant to trade John Henson, but it seems like Larry and John have similar body types, and Monroe and Drummond have similar body types. I don’t know if it’s that simple, just wondering.

    • Larry’s looking good, bonding with the team. We need a point guard someday soon. Otherwise our focus is building the bond between our core. So far so good.

    • I recommend you watch DraftExpress’ free agent video for G.Monroe to see his strength’s and weaknesses.