Giving in to Summer League Hype

nba summer league

The other day I found myself legitimately excited for an NBA summer league game. Wait, what?

This time a few years ago, I could have cared less. But I am starting to realize how relevant these contests are becoming with the summer league in full swing.

This NBA off-season has been arguably better than the entire 2016-2017 NBA regular season. In a time of “super teams” basketball fans alike are eager to see new talent … to see what newbies are going to take so-called mid-major teams to the next level.

It’s not far off from the NFL preseason. Think about it. Who cares if the team wins or loses? If I cared so much about winning, I wouldn’t be an Eagles fan, let’s face it. But preseason for me is about so much more. What draft picks are going to make the most waves? How are players in their sophomore year going to adjust? Are 6 and 7 year veterans worth a damn plugged into a new system?

If anything else, the NBA is that in a heightened sense.

No other sport has such a low starter to roster ratio. Teams more or less put all their stock in first-round picks, pricey trades and flashy acquirements. Does it matter if a team loses by 10 in a summer league game? No. Who cares. We all know that the five players on the floor will not be the five players in the starting lineup come mid-October. But boy do we eat up sideline chatter and over-speculate personnel changes and free agency moves.

And it’s not just about young guns making a name for themselves in the big boy league. “B-rated” players are auditioning for their future. The veteran-but-not-so-seasoned ballers are at a crossroads, trying to prove themselves worthy of a spot on a roster with 13 other heads while D-league standouts try to make a name for themselves.

Basketball fans are dying for something to change in a league of great disparity. While college basketball seems to be growing into a level playing ground with mid-major teams on the up-and-up, the age of the super team in the NBA is becoming less and less desirable to watch, unless you’re a Warriors or Cleveland fan.

So we hang out to whatever basketball we can watch. Fans are eagerly consuming these glorified exhibition games. We are over-analyzing and over thinking stat and story lines. We can’t get enough.

For now, it will do.

Lonzo Ball Entertains Against Sixers, Cavs

Lonzo Ball stole the show and shut down the doubters in his standout showing for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday.

It’s been one of the few times Ball has made headlines without help from his mouthy father, LaVar.

Shocking.

Nothing seemed to phase the former UCLA Bruin. And that was with LeBron James sitting court-side, eyes glued to the most talked about second overall pick.

Dropping 36 points, eight boards and 11 assists, Ball showed up in the clutch. The rookie gave his Lakers the go-ahead bucket that landed his team with a 103-102 win … the biggest and-1, three-point play of the summer league.

Most importantly, Ball did it with unselfish play. And he did it with poise, looking more like a seasoned veteran on the big stage than a rookie.

Ball wowed watchers with his well-rounded play. And that’s with his ugly jumper. I’m just being honest.

He silenced the media with his studded performance. Despite it being an exhibition match, Ball played up to speed in the league playoff contest, bringing his Lakers back from a 14-point deficit. He went off in the second half after having a mediocre first-half performance.

This kid is something to watch. He’s playing beyond expectations and making waves without LaVar behind it all.
Thank God.

Ball’s performance Wednesday proves his ability to progress. In his first pair of games, Ball seemed hesitant to shoot, attempting to score with long (ugly) jumpers. He wasn’t afraid, however, to get dirty in the paint, all while making the right team-first decisions. He worked wonders off the dribble.

His ability to score isn’t his strength, but he showed he’s still a threat to shoot. It’s all signs of good things to come. While we are still talking about summer league, he’s not going to have much of a problem fitting in to the Lakers scheme. We can expect even more good things to come, only making the summer league even more hyped up.


12:42:33 AM

Lonzo Ball records triple-double as Lakers drop Cavs

Ball followed up Wednesday’s performance with another stellar stat line, leading the Lakers over the Cleveland Cavaliers, 94-83, to advance on to the quarterfinals round Thursday night. He racked up 16 points, a dozen rebounds and 10 assists en route to his triple-double.

Ball continues to show his worth on both ends of the court in a full team effort. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 20 points while Vander Blue tallied 18 for the victors.

Though he continues to impress, Ball was just 2-for-10 from beyond the arc. He’ll have to improve his long-range ball, but his progress in the paint continues to give him upside on the floor.

More than competent shooters around him makes his style a good fit. Blue and Kuzma were 7-of-11 and 7-of-14 from the field, respectively.

The Lakers face the Brooklyn Nets in quarterfinal action, Saturday.

Markelle Fultz Lives up to Hype in Summer Hoops Debut

Summer hoops season is just a teaser of sorts, but Monday’s preview of the 76ers gives off the sense that Philadelphia is on the up-and-up. All of the pieces are coming together, and Philadelphia has a lot to look forward to with Markelle Fultz proving worthy of the No. 1 pick overall to the City of Brotherly Love.

The stars of the game were Jalen Brown and Jason Tatum on paper for the Celtics, but Fultz, who saw less playing time for the Sixers, gave us a glimpse of what’s to come for his career. He finished with 17 points and three blocks in his 22 minutes of play.

Handling both sides of the court in his debut showing, Fultz has the potential to round out a Philadelphia team that is screaming “it’s about time.”

Redick to play key leadership role in Philly

With most of their offense on the court being young, the Sixers’ addition of J.J. Redick will add a veteran in the mix, giving players like Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid space to see the floor. Not to mention Redick is a multidimensional player offensively, having a knack for nailing the ball in from beyond the arc – anything like that will surely improve an offense that has been ranked 30th for not one, but the last four seasons. I don’t need to remind you that there are 32 teams in the league.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

Redick was enthusiastic about the one-year, $23 million dollar deal having turned down several offers to be in Philly. He will play a big mentoring role in developing the team’s youthful roster.

Fultz and Redick won’t be the icing on top of the cake, however. The Sixers won’t be vying for the title next season. But be sure to expect to see a gradual improvement in Philadelphia overall.

The team’s level of play also hangs heavy on injury. The Sixers will need to have a healthy Simmons, who missed the entirety of his rookie season, and Embiid, who has played just a total of 31 games in three season, to both be healthy.

Trust the process, right?

Love Lost with Carmelo Anthony to Cavs

It seems Carmelo Anthony is still sitting second fiddle in New York, and the Knicks forward came out Monday saying he would drop his no-trade clause to play in the right city. Cleveland has all the appeal in the world to Anthony. All the Cavaliers need to do is trade away one superstar for another. Bye, Kevin Love.

It’s something we’ve heard before when Frank Isola, beat reporter for the Knicks, forecasted the possibility of an Anthony and Love trade. While James called the piece “trash,” it turns out Isola wasn’t far off and wrote the gospel for the free agency move with Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love – Superstar for Superstar

What needs to happen for Carmelo Anthony to stitch the No. 7 on a Cavs jersey?
Anthony brings a price of $26 million, and Cleveland would ultimately need to rid of that before adding the superstar to its tab.
Carmelo Anthony is owed $54.2 over the next two seasons. It goes without saying that the appeal to waive his trade clause, which is 15 percent, is playing with James. The two have a notable friendship off the court. But room must be made to bring in the notable forward. It won’t be James, and you can bet the bank Kyrie Irving isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Cue the Love breakup.

Ridding of Love’s $22.6 million price tag would have Cleveland welcoming Anthony with open arms. The Anthony and Love trade is a simple solution for Cleveland … But not simple for New York.

One major complication to this hypothetical deal is the fit for Love. The Knicks are looking to build around Kristaps Porzingis. The future face of the Garden is going to be best complimented with youth. Love isn’t cheap and won’t necessarily fit with the young guns.

Look for a third-team option moving forward if the Anthony and Love trade moves forward. A three-team trade is complicated in itself. Don’t forget that Cleveland and New York don’t necessarily have their front of the house operations running smoothly.

If we know anything it’s that James calls the shots up there in Cleveland. He often gets what he wants.

NBA Draft Lottery Predictions: Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets – #11 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

The Pick: Donovan Mitchell – Louisville

Other Possible Picks: Luke Kennard – Duke

A disappointing, less than .500 season for the Charlotte Hornets comes after a surprising one playoff one in 2015. The franchise was mostly riddled by injuries, going without Roy Hibbert and Miles Plumlee for large periods of time. The Hornets have some large vacancies including a secondary point guard, bigs and perimeter shooters; someone that is reliable to score. It’s why Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell will help to make an immediate impact in Charlotte.
The 6-foot-3 prospect excels as both a shooting guard and point guard, and it’s what gives him upside at the No. 11 overall pick. The sophomore Cardinal has shown consistence and commitment with that extra season of experience. That’s appealing to a team that may look to start its draft pick. What Mitchell lacks in size at his position he makes up for in athleticism. He would pair nicely with Charlotte’s Kemba Walker.