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Observations from Las Vegas Summer League: Game 2: Grizzlies vs. Cavaliers

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For the second time in two nights, the Grizzlies fell short, this time to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a low-scoring, unattractive game that the Cavs took 69-58.


Watching this Grizzlies summer league team might be worse than pulling teeth. It's summer league so there is not a lot of continuity between these players, but the Grizzlies have played an incredibly ugly style. No different than the Grizzlies regular season team, the summer leaguers struggle to score.

One thing that stuck out about tonight's game was the feeling that I was watching the first game of summer league all over again. Seeing as the Grizzlies lost that game, that's not a compliment. Tony Wroten and Janis Timma, two Grizzlies that fans and the front office alike have high expectations for, looked equally bad in Game 2. There really wasn't much improvement from any Grizzlies player tonight.

Once again, the most disappointing thing about tonight's game was the absence of Jon Leuer and Jamaal Franklin due to injury. Leuer won't play in summer league, and it seems Franklin is on a day-to-day basis, so hopefully Franklin will make an appearance at some point over the next few days.

Let's get into the game notes.

  • Same starting 5 as Game 1: Tony Wroten, Janis Timma, Donte Greene, Jack Cooley, WIllie Reed
  • Wroten showed his propensity for bad decisions again tonight. He shot a three with 6 seconds left on the shot clock. If he had better awareness, he would have utilized his strongest asset and driven into the paint.
  • Donte Greene was awful again. There's no way he makes an NBA team based on his performances in Las Vegas. He scored 5 points on 1-8 shooting, and his shot was not even close most of the time.
  • As for Cavs notes, it seems as if Waiters gets frustrated too easily. Play tough defense and force him to miss a couple shots early, and he gets off his game. He is also someone that takes *a lot* of shots and needs the ball in his hands which isn't conducive to playing with Kyrie Irving.
  • Wroten actually seemed to regress tonight. Not only did he make bad decisions too frequently, but he also had a terrible shooting game. He went 1-14 from the field, including 0-5 from deep.
  • As for Wroten's free throws, he's still awful. He shot 5-11 from the charity stripe tonight. His free throw struggles largely stem from how he releases the ball. He does way too much of a wrist-flicking motion which causes him to be short often and not get enough arch on the ball. He needs to shoot more with his legs. He pushes his shot up there rather than shooting.
  • As touted as Wroten's defensive ability is, he was downright lazy on that end tonight. He is also terrible at fighting through screens. He gets caught on nearly every one which demonstrates poor awareness.
  • Wroten had more turnovers than assists tonight. That doesn't scream future starting NBA point guard or even quality backup point guard.
  • I know I'm pummeling Wroten here, but he really had an awful game all around and doesn't seem to be showing much improvement. However, summer league performances do need to be taken with a grain of salt as I've stated previously. He still shows a lot of promise at times, just not tonight.
  • Wroten's focus was lacking all night. On his one steal, he had a breakaway layup that he missed for no reason. However, he did stick with the play and get the put back to go.
  • Timma gets almost no elevation on his jump shot, which caused two of his shots to be blocked tonight. He seems to be struggling with confidence in the early going. I would just chalk it up to jitters. At one point, he actually passed up a wide-open three and ended up taking a couple dribbles and forcing a tough two. He is thinking too much right now.
  • Timma tried hard again on defense, but he is slow-footed and quick players can beat him with ease. Waiters blew past him and made him look silly multiple times tonight.
  • Timma was flat on almost every jumper he took tonight. He finished with a measly two points on a meager 1-9 from the field and 0-6 beyond the arc.
  • One thing Timma has impressed me with is his ability to find open space and slide into it on offense. He gets a lot of good looks. He just needs to get adjusted to the pace of an NBA-type game. Also, Timma is better than I expected at finishing around the rim. That's where most, if not all, of his points have come from thus far in summer league. At one point, he flashed into the lane at the perfect time where a teammate found him, and he was able to score an easy bucket in the paint. I like his awareness.
  • One thing Wroten does that will drive any coach crazy is leave his feet when he doesn't have a shot or a clear pass. Then he is forced to make incredibly difficult passes that often lead to turnovers.
  • Vander Blue was impressive at times slashing to the basket. He has a really smooth game. However, at one point he missed a wide-open corner three. If he can't knock that down with consistency, he will never find an NBA home.
  • Jack Cooley impressed again tonight. He finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies in both departments. He has exceptionally nice touch on his jump shot for a big man, and he is not shy to shoot if given space. He seems to be confident in his ability, which is huge for young players. One thing that Cooley will never lack is effort. He brings as much effort to the floor as any player I've ever seen. Again, I will be surprised if he is not at least invited to the big boys camp for an NBA team.
  • Dave Joerger had an impressive interview during the second quarter. He is a breath of fresh air with the media compared to Hollins. He knows what he's talking about, he's intelligent, and best of all he's personable. Check out the full interview HERE. It's worth your time.
  • Willie Reed is a guy that stuck out to me tonight that I didn't notice in the first game. He had six rebounds, and his wingspan really allows him to sky for them. If he sticks on an NBA team, his rebounding ability will be why. He also doesn't force bad shots which is a nice quality in a role player.
  • Matt Howard has a knack for rebounding. He is always around the ball when it comes off the rim, and he is typically sure-handed when he goes up to grab the board.
  • Gerald Robinson and Laurence Bowers didn't really do anything that warrants talking about. They both seemed destined for play overseas.
  • RIP, Donte Greene's Grizzlies career.
For the full box score, click here. Game 3 is on Tuesday against Phoenix at 7:30pm on NBA TV. Hopefully the Grizzlies will have a much better showing.