LAS VEGAS — There’s so much constant action going on at NBA Summer League you can’t take it all in (sort of like Vegas itself). Let me dump my notebook from my first day watching games at UNLV.
• Thon Maker had a double-double Monday: 10 points and 10 fouls.
He’s far from the first guy to foul out of a Summer League game — Andrew Bogut and Larry Sanders both did it, for example — but it’s a continuation of a rough week for the Bucks first rounder.
The reasons the Bucks like Maker have been seen in flashes in Las Vegas: The length, the athleticism, the motor, the shooting stroke. However, you can’t understate how much he needs to work on his game awareness. And to get stronger. Bucks Summer League coach Sean Sweeney said it was a good thing for Maker to go against the physical Grizzlies because they also put him in multiple pick-and-rolls and forced him to defend multiple actions.
Maker just needs time on the court. A lot of it. Right now he floats through offensive sets with little intuitive feel, he’s slow to recognize his defensive rotations, and he’s just raw. He needs a long stint in the D-League, where he can get real run. We’re at least a year away from knowing if he can work out. I didn’t like the Bucks taking him this high in the draft, and after watching him, this pick feels more like a reach than I thought it was draft night.
• Toronto’s big man Jakob Poeltl has plenty to like — nice touch around the rim, good footwork — but he needs to get stronger. He clearly is still adjusting to the physicality of Summer League/NBA play.
“I think he has a really good feel for the game,” Raptors coach Jamal Mashburn said. “I had a conscious effort coming into this game, I wanted to post him up more today, not only can he score out of the post I think he can be a playmaker for us out of the post. As this tournament goes on we’re going to try to utilize him more on the block and let him be more of a playmaker.
“He has a great feel. Obviously, he can block shots, he’s in the right place defensively.”
• Memphis may have a rotation player in Wade Baldwin (17th pick out of Vanderbilt). He showed poise and played well. Plus he did this.
• One of the most fun battles of the day, Sacramento’s Malachi Richardson guarding the Pelicans’ Buddy Hield. Give Richardson credit — someone coming out of Syracuse can defend man. He did a good job closing out space and preventing Hield getting the ball where he wanted. But in the second half Hield did a better job using screens to get open, finding space, and using his step back to knock down shots.
• I don’t know if D. J. Stephens can play in the NBA, but the man can dunk.
• I could see Bucks’ second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon developing into a “3&D” wing off the bench.
• Remember when the Raptors took a first-round gamble on Bruno Caboclo? Watching him here, not sold he’s going to become an NBA player. Maybe I’m wrong, but just not that impressed. Doesn’t make the swing for the fences the wrong move, but sometimes those swings lead to strikeouts.
• “This is a learning experience for him as well,” Mavs summer-league head coach Jamahl Mosley said of second-year player Justin Anderson. “He’s got to learn when to push through fatigue, when to make the right pass, the right decision. It’s part of it. He did make some very good decisions passing the basketball, and there also were times he could have made one more pass, or made the easy pass. But again, this is part of his learning curve.”