JaVale McGee was made for the Drew League — fast-paced pickup basketball with little defense required. The Drew League is the premier pro-am series in Los Angeles and draws a number of NBA players (Jamal Crawford was a highlight on Saturday) and McGee was there. Thriving in an environment where an athletic big who can run the floor will have his way.
Here, he gets out in transition and another player’s effort to stop him isn’t going to work.
We’ll see if Brian Shaw can get the same kind of thing out of McGee with the Nuggets next season — they are going to need him to run the floor and defend. No more Kosta Kufos in front of him, it is all on JaVale next season, for better or worse.
Last summer, John Wall was the king of the Summer League pro-am games. Well, him and Kevin Durant. But Durant went on to nearly be king of the NBA regular season, as he had a monster year that cemented his status as the best pure scorer in the game today.
Wall… he went on to look a lot like the year before. This is a big year for Wall in the NBA, his season to break out and show he can be an elite point guard, that he can lead the Wizards. He’s working on his game, but he also is back doing some summer games around. And he still just destroys those.
From the gang at BallisLife.com, here is Wall’s highlights from the Drew League out in California. Enjoy.
Flip Saunders thinks John Wall played too many summer games
The counterbalance to the suits and greed of the NBA lockout this past summer was the rise of the rec league games. The Goodman League. The Drew League. Rucker Park. More than ever NBA players were rolling into these leagues and playing, and soon the leagues were playing each other like the epic Goodman vs. Drew matchups. Then that evolved into countless charity games.
All entertaining if not exactly well played basketball.
But Flip Saunders watched his team get off to a slow start — they picked up their first win Tuesday — and wondered if all those summer games that John Wall, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, Nick Young and others played in hurt the team. Here is what he told CSNWashington.com.
“I’ve never been a proponent of all those things,” Saunders said after Monday’s practice. “I think you pick up too many bad habits and a lot of things you think are going to be very easy [are not]. I don’t think I saw a change all summer long.”
Those summer games feature very little defense — there is almost no team defensive play. With guys like Wall or Young, nobody can guard them one-on-one and so in settings like that they can get their shot and score almost at will.
The NBA is different — selfish play will cost you games. It cost the Wizards as for the first eight games there were pick-and-rolls and isolations on the strong side but no weakside movement to free or shooters or freeze defenders. Finally that changed Tuesday.
It’s too simplistic to say the rec league games led to the bad Wizards start. There are a whole lot of problems in Washington that have nothing to do with the Goodman League games. But the games followed by a condensed training camp may not have helped, either.
Video: Kevin Durant, John Wall show at Drew/Goodman rematch
John Wall and Kevin Durant put on a show at the Pyramid at Long Beach State Sunday night. The Drew League got its revenge, winning 151-144… but really, not to many people cared about that. They came to see NBA stars do their thing.
Here are the top 10 plays from the night, and frankly I can think of a few more not on this highlight package. I had a few thoughts on the night, but really it was about having fun and this was the fun stuff.
But the game that will have more passion and pride behind it is Sunday night on the other coast.
In Long Beach — the funky city pinned between Los Angeles and Orange County, where the NBA Summer League was hosted for years (and where your humber author lives) — the L.A. based Drew League will get its rematch against the Washington D.C. based Goodman League.
Scheduled to suit up for Goodman are Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, John Wall, Michael Beasley and DeMarcus Cousins. For Drew it’s James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Nick young, and Brandon Jennings. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This has been the summer of the pro-am games — NBA players have always stepped in for a few games here and there in these leagues. But this summer, locked out of their team facilities, NBA guys have showed up in larger numbers. It’s created a real grass-roots buzz. It’s been fun to watch, in part because offense dominates defense in these games that are more pickup than structure.
Both games this weekend should be entertaining. Of course, what should be happening Sunday is the first of the NBA’s official preseason games (that’s when they were scheduled). All the guys in this game should be in training camps instead. We should be gearing up for real NBA basketball.
We’re not. So we have Drew vs. Goodman rematch. Which promises to be a little ray of warm sunshine through the clouds of the lockout.