Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wall, Johnson, Babbitt, Booker And Whiteside Leave Las Vegas

The final members of the Spectacular Seven completed summer league play on Sunday.

John Wall, Wesley Johnson, Luke Babbitt, Trevor Booker and Hassan Whiteside all competed in the Las Vegas Summer League.

They too had their ups and downs, but like Evan Turner, Gordon Hayward and Paul George, there wasn't anything which would cause any concern by the teams which drafted them.

Number one overall pick John Wall probably had the most spectacular performance of anybody.

He went off in his very first outing, putting up 24 points, 8 assists, 2 steals and 1 block, shooting 7-15 from the field and going 10-11 from the foul line. His shooting percentage fell to .377 through four games, but he attempted an astounding 47 free throws and made 41 (.872).

Like other players in summer league, Wall had a problem keeping his turnovers down. He had two 8-turnover games and averaged 5.2 turnovers overall.

The best thing Wall has going for him is Sam Cassell, who could be seen talking to Wall from time to time. Wall even did Cassell's patented pull-up jumper at one point and knocked down a shot just to the side of the foul line.

The Wizards went 4-0 in his games, and Wall concluded by scoring 31 points in his finale. He averaged a sizzling 23.5 points, 4 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 2.5 steals and sat out the final game.

Wesley Johnson of the Timberwolves had the most disappointing summer league of any player, not because of his play but because he didn't play. The Matrix: Reloaded pulled a hamstring in his first game and didn't play again after that.

He shot 4-7 and scored 10 points 22 minutes and recorded one block. Even though his playing time was severely limited, it would have been nice to see him get at least one defensive rebound or an assist.

In an interview with a local paper where Johnson talked about lots of things, it was interesting to read how his favorite cartoon growing up was Tom & Jerry and how he still regrets losing a game all the way back in high school.

This is a great article for those who want to get to know Wesley Johnson.

Portland Trail Blazer Luke Babbitt had an interesting summer league. He came out on fire in his first game and lit up the scoreboard for 13 points in no time flat and was also showing a well-rounded game.

After that he struggled for a few games before finding himself in the fifth and final outing. This article from The Oregonian almost perfectly summarizes Babbitt's performance through the first four games.

Babbitt went off in his final game, scoring 22 points on great shooting to go along with 3 assists, 4 steals and 1 block in a Portland win over Chicago.

There was one troubling sign for Babbitt though.

Trailing by two points against the Clippers, Babbitt had a chance to tie the game with 10.5 seconds left. All he had to do was make two free throws. He missed the first.

After making the second free throw, Babbitt got another opportunity when Portland got the ball back on a turnover.

He got a clutch offensive rebound with about 3 seconds to play but missed a shot from about eight feet away which would have won the game.

Success in sports is all about performing in the clutch, and the Trail Blazers should be concerned about Luke Babbitt missing two of three highly-makeable shots when it mattered most.

This is even more disturbing when you consider that Babbitt shot .917 from the foul line last year in college and .891 in two seasons.

For those who think too much is being made of clutch performance in a summer league game, the name Dwyane Wade should be immediately brought to the forefront.

When Dwyane Wade was a rookie in 2003, long before he was a star, back when he was merely some guy who got drafted after LeBron and Carmelo, he hit a game-winner over LeBron James in summer league in Orlando.

He has been doing it ever since--video 1, video 2.

So while it is not time to panic, it is something the Trail Blazers should be concerned about because winning and losing, especially in the playoffs, frequently comes down to plays like those Babbitt didn't make against the Clippers.

The Wizards' Trevor Booker spent summer league in the shadow of teammates John Wall and JaVale McGee.

Booker got a chance to show what he can do only in the final game when the two players didn't play. With Wall and McGee out of the way, Booker put up respectable numbers in a loss against the Knicks.

He averaged 1.4 steals and 1 block in five games and shot over 50 percent from the field.

Hassan Whiteside of the Sacramento Kings left Las Vegas with heavier pockets than he came with.

The Kings must have liked what they saw out of Whiteside because they signed the second-round pick to a four-year deal worth $3.8 million.

On the court, Whiteside talked about some of his adjustments in going from Marshall to the NBA.

He said he has to get used to not being in the paint and mentioned how teams are designing plays to put him in pick-and-rolls to keep him away from the basket to minimize his shot blocking.

The fact that opposing teams already are forced into designing game plans to adjust for Whiteside's dominant shot-blocking ability is a good thing, and the fact that he recognizes what they are doing is an even better one.

What teams did made perfect sense and was quite necessary considering that Whiteside came out in his first game and had 5 blocks, the same number he averaged in college.

The most he had in any game after that was 3. He averaged 2.8.

Like the others, Whiteside has to continue to work on his game and get better in all aspects. We'll see how things develop as the off-season moves along.

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