I’ve got a correspondent, Joey Devine, at the Las Vegas Summer League this week, giving me reports on all the basketball action. The following is a distillation of his observations from Tuesday.
Best teammate: Chuck Hayes, Houston Rockets. Despite not playing in the Summer League, Hayes sat on Houston’s bench, cheering and congratulating teammates like a modern-day Jack Haley.
Worst teammate: Morris Almond, Chicago Bulls. Not only did Almond shoot virtually every time he touched the ball in his nine minutes of action, he exhibited a Kobe Bryant-style glare when teammates didn’t pass the ball to him.
Most surprising appearance: J.R. Smith, Denver Nuggets. When asked why he, a six-year veteran, was playing in Summer League, Smith responded, “Love of the game.”
Least surprising disappearance: The Maloof Brothers, who only made it through ten minutes of Heat-Warriors before fleeing in disgust.
Most impressive player: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors. He ran the floor, shut down Chase Budinger, and connected on both sides of more than a few alley-oops with Sonny Weems. I asked Joey and his friend, “Has DeMar learned to dribble yet?” and the answer was a resounding, “Eh, sort of?”
Least impressive player: OJ Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies. Mayo is re-learning the point guard position this year after the Grizzlies acquired Tony Allen and Xavier Henry to play on the wing. While Mayo scored a bunch, he turned the ball over and didn’t get the ball to teammates. Honorable mention goes to Hasheem Thabeet of Memphis, who was only more impressive by virtue of meeting the low expectations set for him.
Best shoes: Bryan Colangelo, Toronto Raptors, for his snakeskin loafers.
Most interesting female companion: Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets.
Best quote: “I don’t see why they call LeBron a king. All kings have rings, King George, King Tut, hell even Rodney King has one.” - A Las Vegas bus driver. (Note: I don’t think Rodney King has a ring.)
Scariest moment: Australian Joe Ingles, a Warriors roster hopeful, defended Miami Heat roster hopeful Jon Scheyer at the beginning of the second quarter. His aggressive swipe at the ball drilled Scheyer in the face, and sent him to the hospital with a lacerated eyelid. The initial text message I received said, “I think that Australian guy blinded Jon Scheyer.”
Most awkward moment: When Joey’s friend shouted, “That’s how we do it in the Bay!” after Scheyer first fell. Summer League is fairly quiet anyway, with the crowd heavily made up of scouts, reporters, and team officials, so yelling anything will get you some looks. He got more looks when Scheyer stayed down on the court for five minutes, and even more when the middle-aged couple sitting near him rushed down to the court to help. Yes, it was Jon Scheyer’s parents.
It was then that Joey and friend decided to leave before halftime. As they exited, an ambulance was pulling into the Thomas & Mack Center. Inadvertently offending a gym full of basketball people, including a player’s parents? That’s how we do it in the Bay!