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Observations from Las Vegas Summer League: Game 5: Grizzlies vs. Bobcats

The Grizzlies fought valiantly but came up just short to the Charlotte Bobcats, 92-84. With the loss, the Grizzlies are now eliminated from the first ever NBA Summer League tournament. They will play one more consolation game of sorts on Friday against the Denver Nuggets to cap off what has been an underwhelming summer league performance.

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After losing their second game of the inaugural NBA Las Vegas Summer League tournament, the Grizzlies have been eliminated. The team flamed out of summer league play in underwhelming fashion, winning only one game in five tries. The team's performance was disappointing on multiple fronts. First, obviously Jamaal Franklin and Jon Leuer didn't play a single minute due to injury. Next, Tony Wroten didn't really show a whole lot of improvement from last year. He has proven that he has a longer way to go in terms of his development than people originally thought. But, it is just summer league, and everything should be taken with a grain of salt, for better or worse. I don't really have a lot more to say about the team's stint in Vegas. It was kind of miserable.

Game Notes

  • Wroten, has he done multiple times during summer league, drove right and got to the rim only to shoot a left-handed layup that got blocked. He has to work on that. For a player that's main asset is his ability to drive, he has to learn to finish with his off hand.
  • Jeff Taylor was the most polished player I've seen in summer league so far. He is clearly a level above most of the guys their.
  • Wroten drew the assignment of guarding Taylor at times, and Taylor made him look bad. Taylor is just too crafty and smart with the ball in his hands. He has NBA moves whereas most of these guys are stuck with good/elite college moves.
  • It was nice to see Janis Timma regain a little bit of confidence tonight. Another thing of note is that he put more arc on his three-point shots, and his attempts looked noticeably better. He hit just his second three of summer league when he picked off an outlet pass and let it fly from just to the right of the top of the arc as the buzzer expired.
  • Timma has a nice free throw stroke. He looks like a guy that could shoot 80-85% from the line. He's 3-3 from the line in summer league.
  • Timma was able to do things tonight that we didn't see in the previous four games. On one play, he got trapped on the baseline, so he pivoted and kicked the ball out to Bowers for a wide open three. He hasn't shown that kind of awareness often, and he definitely has not dealt well with the speed of NBA defenders thus far. Nevertheless, maybe he could catch up to the NBA's pace. He's shown good things during his brief stint in America.
  • It's really nice to see Bob Weiss back coaching in the NBA again after a brief stint coaching in China. For hardcore basketball fans, I recommend reading Brave Dragons, which is a story about the team Weiss coached in China. It fuses culture, humor, and most importantly, basketball in one book. It's worth a read.
  • Vander Blue only knows one speed, which is fast. That causes him to be reckless at times. If he can learn to slow the game down, he could be a nice player offensively.
  • One thing that Blue exhibited in college that he put on display tonight is his ability to get hot. He came out of seemingly nowhere in the second half and ended the game with 24 points on 9-17 from the field and 5-8 from deep. Blue is a player I liked coming out of college for his ability to stretch the floor. However, as quick as he can get hot he can just as quickly go ice cold. He has always been a streaky shooter.
  • Gerald Robinson is excellent at utilizing the screen from a big man on the pick-and-roll. He is so good at turning the corner after going over the screen and heading to the basket. Robinson has demonstrated a propensity to shoot the floater once he gets to the lane, and it looks good when it leaves his hand but it still needs some work for him to gain consistency with the shot.
  • Robinson has pretty good handles and good moves in iso situations that enable him to create for himself. He also has an excellent sense for the pace of the game. He can speed it up or slow it down on a dime, and he looks just as comfortable running the fast break as he does in half court sets. Since the Grizzlies need a backup point guard but have limited funds, I would highly recommend the Grizzlies take a hard look at him.
  • Cooley lives on second-chance points. He has a knack for grabbing the board and putting the ball right back up. This is a valuable skill in the NBA, and he could make a living off of it.
  • Cooley is a poor rotator on defense. He is not great at sliding over for help defense, and he often gets confused with his assignment. This might be because the lack of cohesiveness amongst the team though.
  • Wroten struggles to fight through screens on defense. That's not great for a guy that will be primarily guarding guys that can shoot. He will be eaten alive if he doesn't work on that.
  • Wroten is 5/29 from deep in summer league, which is 17%. He does not have three-point range on his jumper. At all. Give it up.
  • Although the loss was disappointing after the Grizzlies fought so hard to come back in the second half, it's hard to be too disappointed. The Bobcats had a distinct advantage as a lot of their players are guys that will be on their NBA roster come this fall.
  • Wroten drove to the lane a lot tonight, but he was not getting the foul calls he has been getting. The refs were kind of poor tonight honestly. However, he does have a tendency to drive and take too many difficult off balance runners.
  • Cooley's best area to shoot a jumper is from the elbow or free throw line extended. He is basically money from that spot. He could be valuable as a pick-and-pop man with that skill set, although he is a little cumbersome.
  • Wroten doesn't push the ball well at all, which will likely hurt his chances to win the backup point guard job. The Grizzlies have made it clear they want their second unit to be one that can get out and run, and Wroten likes to take things slow. At one point tonight, there was a three on two fast break and rather than drive, he decided to back the ball out and reset. He just doesn't look comfortable moving that fast with the ball.
  • Donte Greene continues to impress with his savvy offensive game. He had 15 points tonight. He has more than made up for his poor start to summer league.
  • Wroten was 2-15 from the field tonight. Wow.
  • Willie Reed did not play tonight, and I'm not sure why. He could have been injured but the box score says coaches decision.
  • Cody Zeller was really impressive. He looks a lot more aggressive than he was in college already. He was scrappy on the boards, and he showed he is not soft. After everyone laughed at that pick, I expect Zeller to go on to do really nice things in the NBA. One thing about him that's different from a lot of the picks in this year's draft is that he is ready to contribute right away. His game is very polished, although his decision-making could use some improvement. On one play, he had a wide open jumper from the elbow, which he can hit, but he chose to drive instead, which resulted in him charging. He'll learn quickly though.
For the full box score, click here. The Grizzlies will play one last game in Las Vegas against the Denver Nuggets on Friday at 5:30pm CT.