The Vegas NBA Summer League got off to an electric start in its first weekend with top 3 picks Lonzo Ball and Jason Tatum facing off. The result was the first advance sellout of about 18,000 in the history of the Vegas Summer League, the majority of fans there to see the start of Lonzo Ball’s MVP summer league performance.
While Lonzo may have stolen the show over the 11-day event, a number of Canadians suited up for various teams with far less hype and the common goal of parlaying a good showing into a training camp invite. The one exception to that group was Dillon Brooks, the Grizzlies 2nd round pick. Frequently referred to as a “tweener” during his college years, his athleticism stood out in Vegas and was rewarded with a three-year rookie contract. Brooks’ defence though is one area that will need to be improved in order to receive meaningful minutes in the NBA. The opportunistic Brooks averaged 1.5 steals per game in addition to his 12.2 points in Vegas, but on at least a couple of occasions he gambled for steals late in close games where the unsuccessful attempts resulted in open shots.
The surprise among the group was Naz Mitrou-Long. Seemingly buried behind lottery pick De’Aaron Fox and last year’s winner of the NCAA’s most outstanding player award, Frank Mason, Mitrou-Long caught a break with Mason getting hurt and Fox resting. Although he was rarely the primary ball handler in his college days, Naz didn’t look out of place
and seemed to improve with each opportunity.
Although his team was knocked out of the tournament by a Dallas team featuring tested NBA talent and lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr, Naz held his own with the likes of Yogi Ferrell and Nicolas Brussino who shot a combined 0-14. Over his 4 games, he averaged a respectable 9.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2 assists. At the very least, the undrafted guard went from off the radar among NBA candidates to one who will at least get further chances if not at a training camp this fall.
Kevin Pangos was back for a third chance in summer league. He has shown great progress since his first chance in 2015 left even his dad, former York Lions women’s basketball coach Bill Pangos, disappointed with his play. Pangos came out of the gate very strong, in contests that went down to the end with Memphis and Miami. Against the Grizzlies, Kevin tied thegame with 19 seconds left in a well-rounded performance that included 8 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds and largely outshined Memphis’ NBA-experienced point guard Wade Baldwin. Although his numbers weren’t as impressive against the Heat, he was again a key figure down the stretch with 3 rebounds in the last 3+ minutes. His seven turnovers in
the game can be in part credited though to the lack of familiarity within the team.
While Mitrou-Long had the benefit of playing with the Kings young frontcourt of Labissiere and Papagiannis that received rather significant minutes late last season, Pangos played with a roster largely of journeymen and fringe prospects yet to crack an NBA rotation. After his solid performance, Pangos received praise from Washington’s senior VP of basketball ops Tommy Sheppard who said that he “expects him to be in the NBA, if not next season, soon”.
Other Canadians to suit up in the Vegas summer league included Spurs property Olivier Hanlan, Mychael Mulder for the Raptors, Kyle Wiltjer for the Clippers (acquired in the Chris Paul deal), Dylan Ennis and Brady Heslip.
Ennis had the “heat check” game of the tournament, connecting on 8-of-11 3-pointers (which was a Vegas league record) among his 35 points against the Clippers. His 20 points in the second quarter was one short of his entire output for the five games prior with the Warriors.
Wiltjer on the other hand received rather limited minutes throughout and was waived soon after. Mulder looked very tentative in his (very) limited minutes. Hanlan was solid in Pangos-like fashion and still has his rights held by the Spurs. Heslip had little opportunity to show that he’s more than a 3-point shooter with the Bulls summer league team.
All in all, while this group likely has no future NBA stars among them it is yet more proof that Canada has an abundance of depth for future international tournaments, especially at the guard position unlike in past years. The experience these players continue to gain at events like this will only help their case when they are considered for spots with the Canadian national team.
Boogie’s Productions Down Again
Cousins injured again…we can’t relate to that.
When former Sacramento star and New Orleans Pelican DeMarcus Cousins joined the Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green Golden State Warriors to begin last season critics dubbed this superteam unfair.
What was unfair however was the ACL injury that kept Boogie sidelined for most of the season and then the quad injury on top of that in the playoffs that made sure the Warriors wouldn’t be dancing in their final chapter in Golden State.
But as D.C. made a Cali move too like the Dubs across the Golden Gate to San Francisco, heading to LeBron’s Lakerland with former frontcourt friend Anthony Davis, what was really unfair is what’s just come out of a practice run this week.
Cousins has tore his ACL again in a horrible twist of fate.
This games God’s people.
When DeMarcus reunited with the same former New Orleans big man that rocked his jersey in beautiful All Star tribute a couple of seasons back when they briefly flew together as Pelicans this Summer, the Lakers furthered their favourite status like tapping that heart on Twitter. Even if the Clippers ended up being the ones that got Kawhi Leonard…and Paul George too for the new battle of Los Angeles, raging against the Lakers Hollywood machine, the Lake Show have the ‘Space Jam 2’ of the King and the ‘brow. Not to mention the difference maker like rising star Kyle Kuzma in the veteran one of Cousins.
Either one of them will blow, or both, as the other will show he’s still got it. Giving the West’s best the biggest force of an interchangeable frontcourt. As the Lakers could either go with the more muscle version of a Tim Duncan and David Robinson twin towers in the Pelican reunited Kentucky Wildcats of Davis and Cousins and ‘Bron. Or the most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe of James and A.D. and the one young core star who didn’t get switched for this franchise player in Kuz, who could form a big three if the injured Cousins isn’t already still a part of one. Despite the writing off medical report.
And we haven’t even got to his Kentucky alumni Rajon Rondo led backcourt, or last year’s all dunking and blocking big headband and hair spark JaVale McGee. A gym rat who re-upped after almost going for both the Defensive Player Of The Year and Most Improved Player award in the first month of last seasons 82 campaign.
The Lakers are going to need him and that first wind of last year now more than ever.
Or the California club have some decisions to make for who to put in purple and gold for their almost meant to be final roster spot (DON’T AMNESTY!). Do they still wait for another former Warrior in Sixth Man, defensive legend Andre Igudola? Or do they leave him and the long rumoured other Anthony in Carmelo and pick up another big? Guys like Nené, Amir Johnson, Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried, Zaza Pachulia and Marcin Gortat are still on the market like fresh fruit stalls. And even Dwight Howard of all people have expressed (more like blatantly begged for publicity) for a return to Lakerland after his Hollywood divorce.
Because we have no idea when Boogie will be back. Or if he will even be the same player when he returns. Or if he even was before this injury happened. But despite history rewriting so many careers crippled by injury we still believe. We still believe he has superstar status and could be the X-factor difference maker when he returns late in the game to this Hollywood scripted rivalry like he almost was last season in the Finals against Toronto as he flips it. You saw him almost become a Splash Brother with that three, so just you wait until you see him downtown in STAPLES this season when it’s all said and buzzer beater done.
The bridge is far from over.
New Nike Philadelphia Seventies Sixers Jerseys Are A Classic Edition
Philadelphia soul on ice.
Ever since Nike partnered up with the NBA like ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ there has been a fast and furious release of rock solid jerseys for the hardwood over the last couple of seasons. From the Association, to the Icon’s and Statement’s made. Last year the ‘Just Do It’ swoosh even helped Basketball’s best put on a vest for the City. Adding even more to the closet collection when it came to some alternates for the teams that made the postseason push to the playoffs.
But now if you thought fo, fo, four jerseys that have at least one changing by the year was enough for your locker room or throwback budget, then just you wait. Because all these fits and drips may be iconic, but Nike are about to release an addition that really is Classic for the five man team. Over the next calendar the Classic Edition jerseys will belong to only 12 franchises in this 30 strong league. Less than half for the next year that we hope includes some storied Lakers and Celtics duds.
But what better team to introduce this new tradition than the one with more classic throwbacks than Mitchell and Ness in the Philadelphia 76ers? The City of Brotherly Love may have lost Jimmy Butler and J.J. Reddick this offseason, but they’ve gained even more threads for new team player Al Horford and mainstays Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to rock with the rock as they push it down court next season.
Open your arms to that.
The classic PHILA Philadelphia jerseys have already been brought back with a next generation twist. Whilst the 76ers seem to be the only team who could still put up those Christmas script jerseys long after other teams have gone in the New Year sales. But with the only court apparel competition being what looks in the mirror as they try these on, the Sixers have out done and stitched themselves yet again. Bringing back like 1971, Hal Greer and ‘The Kangaroo Kid’, Billy Cunningham, the iconic and creative “Seventies Sixers” jerseys. A jumping, forgotten retro relic and slept on classic until now.
Waking up the league, back to the future in a Ford Mustang the Motown era of a classic Bad Boy, Detroit Pistons would be proud…or jealous of (inch or mile, you should have got there sooner Motor City men), Embiid and Simmons in a slick photoshoot sharing an ‘S’ on the chest popped the hood and revealed all the intricate workings underneath, bringing this classic back on the road like Hall & Oates.
Hold on we’re going home.
Before the process. Before the answer. Even before “fo, fo, fo”, Cunningham and the Sixers represented Philly like steak and cheese. The 1970’s where a defining era for the city. Philadelphia soul made its mark from stereos to nightspots and some young fighter named ‘Rocky’ went the distance with some kid called Creed as some man going by the name Sly Stallone wrote a classic movie. Oh and Questlove of the legendary Roots crew was born. Along with another Philly legend you might also be familiar with.
With this thrift shop like find that celebrates the spirit and legacy of a city that reinvents itself more times than it does it’s wardrobe, this is the perfect “new” look for a team that could take inspiration from their past when it comes to their latest reinvention on court. Playing on without the services of their Butler, or top downtown gunner J.J.
And after all they’ve loved and lost over the years, even if you don’t trust it you can always try on the process now.
And its a look that could fit over seventy games this season.
Now that has the makings of a classic.
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