Summer League is a chance for first impressions and to get a modicum of an idea of what you have with your young players. And that’s exactly what we get with the Kings after 40 minutes of play against Detroit’s rookies and Summer League roster fillers.
Here are some quick-hitter impressions from what I saw on the floor from the Kings players:
- Donte Greene is noticeably bigger and fitter. He’s not lying when he says that he added 10 to 15 pounds of muscle and it showed in his defense and rebounding.
– Talked to David Thorpe after the game and he was impressed with the playmaking ability that Omri Casspi showed. Casspi was much quicker than advertised and blew by his defender a few times. He also did a great job of setting up a couple of baskets. One play was Omri driving straight down the middle past his man and setting up Robert Battle for a dunk. The other nice one was a pick and roll with Thompson. Omri threw a great pass to Thompson that got the defense out of position and Thompson whipped the pass from the baseline to under the hoop for a Donte Greene score. It’s what David Thorpe called a “Gretzky play.”
- Jon Brockman is a very good rebounder. Reread that sentence a couple more time. I mean, he’s a REALLY good rebounder, especially on the offensive end. He finished with eight rebounds in 21 minutes and five of them were on offense. He is really instinctual in the way he attacks the rebound. And he definitely ATTACKS the rebound. He never really let them come to him. He’s going to be a nice fourth big man in the rotation.
– Jason Thompson was absolutely terrible. He seemed timid and lethargic on the floor. He was a little out of position having to guard DaJuan Summer who is a definite small forward but he didn’t move well in defending the post either when Summers wasn’t in the game. JT only grabbed three rebounds in 27 minutes of play. Part of that was because of how well Greene (7) and Brockman rebounded. But also part of the reason they rebounded so well was because he wasn’t very active. He scored fairly nicely with 15 points on nine shots. He got to the line a lot thanks to Tyreke Evans and Jerel McNeal setting him up. But he also seems completely uncomfortable posting up. He’s definitely always going to be a face-up type of offensive player.
– Robert Battle was very impressive. He looks like he’s been doing nothing but weight training for 10 years. He was powerful inside and the most active player the Kings frontcourt had. But he’s also 28 years old. As Thorpe put it, he’s a man playing against young guys. He should do that. Not to mention the fact that everybody seemed terrified of him.
– Marcus Landry had a nice stretch in which he made back-to-back threes. He was kind of sloppy defensively and committed six fouls in 23 minutes. He could actually be a nice player overseas.
And now to Tyreke Evans:
First play of the game, the Kings ran a set to post him up against the much smaller Sean Singletary. It resulted in a foul. Get used to that. He’s going to live at the free throw line. He won’t lead the team in free throw attempts as a rookie but I guess by his second year, he will pretty much need a molding of his shoes at the free throw line so he feels as comfortable as possible there.
He can definitely play the point but he isn’t a traditional point that sets up other guys first. He was too imposing for Singletary after the first play of the game and they immediately switched the much taller but thinner Deron Washington out to defend him. All that took away was the Kings idea of posting up Evans. Instead, they ran pick and rolls with him and Thompson and let him blow by whoever was desperately trying to stay in front of him.
He’s really quick and something that I can only describe as composed chaos with the ball (think Gerald Wallace with an angel on his shoulder reminding him to slow down when he gets in the lane). He teeters on the fine line of being aggressive and being reckless with attacking the basket. He pushes to the hoop and slows up at the last possible moment to make whatever play needs to be made. His turnovers are going to be high because that will be something defenses can exploit. But he’ll eventually figure out how to adjust to the flying hands, swiping down at him as he gets to the rack.
His defense wasn’t as good as advertised but it was still pretty solid. He could eventually be an annual All-Defensive 2nd Team kind of player.
Any doubts should have been erased after seeing what he can do. It’s only a first impression but it’s a step towards knowing what the Kings have in store for next season.