I really missed NBA summer league in Las Vegas. I didn’t miss the oppressive heat of Vegas in July. I didn’t miss what is passed off as food at the Thomas and Mack.
But I missed finding players you didn’t know much about before and falling in love with their games. Finding good guys worth rooting for to do well.
Guys like Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz. He was at the Impact Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas the last couple weeks, which had the feel of Summer League in a lot of ways (including the lack of defense). Evans athleticism stood out — the man is a human pogo stick. He can leap out of the building and I don’t know many guys who can get a second jump off as quick or as high as him.
He was putting on a show (see the video below). The best part is, he is just a humble guy from Kentucky playing with a huge smile on his face the whole time.
“That’s just me, I’m always smiling,” Evans said. “I think it just comes from my game.”
He didn’t see a lot of time in Utah last season, but it’s a difficult fit. He is a natural athlete who ideally should be showcased in transition, but the Jazz are a very system oriented team. Plus, he should be a natural four and the Jazz have Paul Millsap eating up most of the minutes at that spot.
But man, is Evans fun to watch. What does he need to do to get more run in Slat Lake?
“Probably just my confidence, shooting the ball,” Evans said. “I can shoot the ball and I just don’t shoot, other guys are out there. I just try to do what I can to help the team.”
Seeing if Evans can break through is just one of the many reasons I want the NBA season to start. On time. Like now. But alas….
Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL
That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.
Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.
Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.
His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.
A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.
But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.
If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.
Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.
PBT Extra: Can Boston hang on to the No. 1 seed in East?
In an unexpected twist as the season winds down, the Cavaliers have stumbled — 8-11 since the All-Star break — while the Celtics have just kept on winning. Suddenly the Boston Celtics are on top of the East with the best record.
Can they stay on top through the rest of the season?
Does it matter to the Cavaliers?
I cover all this ground in the latest PBT Extra.
Draymond Green on Raiders move to Las Vegas: I won’t attend another game
“And I’m not a diehard Raiders fan, but I support the city of Oakland. It ain’t for me and I feel like all fans should feel that way. You just don’t do that. Come on man, that’s ridiculous.”
“If I were the fans, I wouldn’t attend a game for the next two years. But that’s just me. That’s ridiculous. No way I’d pay my money to attend a game.”
Um, does Green realize the Warriors are also moving from Oakland (to a new arena in San Francisco)?
“It’s one thing if you’re moving them from Oakland to Fremont or something,” Green said of the Raiders. “To Las Vegas?
OK, that’s Fair. I am just being pedantic. I don’t actually see moving across the bay as similar to the Raiders moving hundreds of miles away.
“That’s like moving the Dallas Cowboys or moving the Packers,” he said. “Moving the Raiders? You can move a lot of teams. Ain’t many fan bases like the Raiders fan base. That’s like moving the Boston Celtics from Boston or the Lakers from LA.
“You just don’t move certain franchises with the fan base they have.”
But seriously this time: Someone tell Green that the Raiders have already moved from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland — hundreds of miles each way and a ridiculous drive in traffic.
I get that Green — who grew up in Detroit Lions territory, roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is pictured above in a San Francisco 49ers jersey — just wants to connect with Oakland fans, but this argument is just intellectually dishonest.