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Summer Campers: DeMarre Carroll and Sam Young Edition

Pete is back for more Vegas previews, and I'll be on the Summer League game tomorrow - djturtleface

Without a doubt, the Grizzlies reached for Carroll at No. 27 in the 2009 draft, although many thought they made up for the mistake by snagging Sam Young in the second round. Turns out neither player lived up to expectations, making up about half of the worst bench in the league.

Carroll has all the intangibles that a franchise would want from a first round pick. He's tough, smart, hungry and energetic.

However, if you looked up "tweener" in the dictionary, you might see his picture. At a generous 6'8'', Carroll struggled to find his place b in the NBA last year in limited time. He will have to make strides in his game in order to be a successful pro at either small forward or power forward.

Yet there's a reason that Carroll was well-regarded, as well as the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational. He's almost 24, but although Carroll won't grow or get more athletic, he still has time to learn the NBA game and improve skills that will make him valuable.

Sam Young came out of Pittsburgh at close to 40 years old -- ok, looking 40, but actually 24. Talented, yes. High ceiling? Probably not.

However, Young was drafted for a reason. He's got a quality NBA body as well as athleticism that translates to the professional ranks. And his first season was decent, especially toward the end of the year, despite having the overwhelming expectation of playing 6th man.

With Xavier Henry around to take more minutes, expectations won't be as high this for either player season, but here's what Predator and Old Man Sam have to show in Summer League if they're going to become a reliable rotation players.

DeMarre Carroll -- Offense:

- Shooting: Carroll was an efficient scorer in college with impressive range for a 4. However, now he's got to learn to play the 3, and his jumper just hasn't translated. His 39% from the floor has got to go up. He's not athletic enough to score a ton on the inside, so for him to prove valuable, he'll have to develop a mid-range game.

If Carroll uses the summer to showcase a more consistent J, Grizzlies fans should be encouraged. But if he's putting up respectable numbers through driving and hustle buckets, don't be fooled. That stuff won't work when the regular season rolls around.

- Capitalize on offensive boards: 2.1 total rebounds per game isn't an impressive stat, even over only 11 minutes, but having almost 40% of your rebounds come on the offensive end of the ball is.

By comparison, 26% of league leader Dwight Howard's boards came on the offensive end.  That showcases DeMarre's intelligence and hustle. But the same time, he averaged less than one free throw per game. If he's getting the ball on an offensive rebound, Carroll needs to score, or at least get to the charity stripe.

- Three point shot: Does this guy even know how to pull an NBA three? He shot six last season, missing all of them. If you're trying to play power forward at 6'8" tall and aren't hitting the glass like Jason Maxiell, you better be able to stretch the floor.

This is simple. If Carroll is swishing deep balls this summer, he's expanded his offensive game big time. Yes it's the summer league, but that arc is still the same distance in July as it is in December.


- Isolation defense, especially on the perimeter: Coming out of Missouri's "40 Minutes of Hell", Carroll was known for a defensive prowess. But as mentioned before, his athleticism simply doesn't yield the same results at the NBA level.

Carroll was repeatedly burned by more agile slashers last season. Even if he does a lockdown job against summer league competition, Grizz fans still can't trust that he's improved, but it'd be an encouraging sign for his perimeter defense this season.

- Rebound: Remember that offensive rebounding I was talking about? If Carroll has the intelligence and hustle to track down boards like that on offense, he needs to average more than 2.1 total rebounds.

Carroll is going to get a reserve's minutes, so nobody expects him to pull down Rodman-like boards. But his effort doesn't seem consistent. On October 30, he grabbed 7 boards in 32 minutes. Fine. Then the next day he gets 1 board in 23 minutes. This confusing trend got a little better as the year went on, but the bottom line is DeMarre has to hit the glass harder on the defensive end.

- Continue with the energy: How will the "Junkyard Dog" react to a tough rookie campaign? A deaf man could hear Memphis complaining about Carroll's play, so will he come back and play with the same passion and energy that has made him popular in the past? If you see Carroll bouncing around like usual in the summer league, at least we'll know he's still got the same fight that, quite frankly, few NBA players have.

Carroll is limited athletically, but with intelligent practice, he can make himself a valuable asset. All DeMarre has to do is develop a midrange jumper or even a three pointer and continue the consistent rebounding he hinted at during times last season. This summer will go a long way in determining if Carroll can ever become an actual professional.

Sam Young -- Offense:

- Poor long range shooting: Sam's field goal percentage was a healthy 45% last season, but the 19.6% from beyond the arc is horrendous. You've got to be kidding me. I could step onto an NBA court and hit a better percentage.

But, there's hope. Young shot over 37% from three point land as a senior at Pittsburgh, so I'm definitely looking for him to improve. If Sam is shooting better during his time in Vegas from the added distance of the NBA three line, chances are he's fully adjusted to the NBA game, and will shoot a higher percentage in his second year as a pro.

- Over-dribbling: As I mentioned earlier, Sam has a good body, even for a pro. That means that in college, he could basically do what he wanted, and few if any were athletic enough to stop him.

Sam can't pull off that street ball type of game in the NBA ranks. If he is going to be a successful player, he's got to handle the ball sparingly, especially sincehe oftern gets matched up against uber-athletic backup swingmen who bait him into turnovers. If Sam's turnovers stay down, even though the summer league typically has an up-and-down recreational feel, Grizzlies fans should be optimistic that he'll play smarter this season.

- Court vision: You think Rudy Gay is strictly a scorer? Sam's even worse. For a wing player, more turnovers than assists should never happen and Sam Young averaged 1.62 turnovers per assist. That is just awful. That means that essentially, Sam is not letting anyone else touch the ball when he's on the court. (Hint: Hey Sam, dish to Hasheem!

Sam will be probably the best scorer on the summer league team, so he'd have an excuse to play selfish basketball. That will make it even more interesting to see if he makes a point to move the ball around and get others into the game, especially with shooters O.J. and X on the roster.. If he does, he's improving.


- Focus: We've been over it before. Sam is athletic, and he's got an NBA body that at worst, won't hinder him at the NBA level. But as we also mentioned, his physical skills are near their peak at 24 years old.

That means that if Young is going to improve, he's got to do so mentally. He's really got no excuse to not be at least an average defensive player. But his focus issues often got the best of him last year. Whether it was closing out on a defender late, or allowing a back door cut; stupid fundamental mistakes, Sam wasn't consistent enough.

- Isolation defense: Iso D pretty much takes all the small things Sam needs to work on, and balls it into one issue. Focus, giving up on plays, closing speed, playing smart - Sam has got to make sure he brings it every time when playing one-on-one D.

The biggest thing Sam can do is learn in the NBA and make adjustments. He's got the tools to be a decent player if he can hone his long distance jumper, and start to play focused defense, he'll be a decent pro.

Summer league will be about Sam demonstrating that he knows what he needs to do in the NBA. If he's scoring at near will and playing lazy defense, he's doing his usual. But if he's making a conscious effort to get others involved, burying a long range jumper, and playing passionate defense - the Grizzlies might have a good role player on their hands.