Summer League

Q & A With Trey Burke

Trey Burke

Trey Burke (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Trey Burke was the biggest star of the NCAA Tournament and the first point guard selected in the 2013 Draft. So he should have been one of the best players at the Orlando Summer League. Instead, Burke shot just 13-for-54 (24 percent) and made just one of his 19 3-point attempts. It was a rough start to Burke’s NBA career, at least in terms of his shooting.

Still, Burke will likely be the starting point guard when the Utah Jazz open their season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 30. With the departures of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams, the Jazz are going young. The 23-year-old Gordon Hayward should be their oldest starter.

Earlier this month, I spoke with Burke at the annual Rookie Photo Shoot, where his fellow rooks voted him as the best playmaker in the class:

NBA.com: How would you grade your summer league performance?
Burke: I’ll say D+, because I feel like I did good in all my other areas, but I just shot poorly. Why? I don’t know. I’ve never shot that poorly before. I think I lost a little bit of confidence after the first game, not shooting well and then trying to adjust to the new system, new players and stuff like that. Besides the shooting part, I think I did pretty well. But I still don’t think it was any higher than a C.

NBA.com: What kind of feedback did you get from your coaches?
Burke: The coaches felt like I did good. Honestly, my shooting percentage wasn’t what they were expecting, watching my play at Michigan. But as far as running the team, getting the team into sets, picking my spots out there on the court, they think I did a really good job at that.

NBA.com: What do they want you to do before camp starts?
Burke: Just continue to stay consistent with my shot, which, in my opinion, isn’t a problem with me … as well as making that play right when it’s there, not taking that extra dribble … getting the ball up the court with a certain amount of time on the shot clock. I think that’s a big adjustment for me, the time going from 35 seconds to 24 seconds. That’s a lot of time.

NBA.com: Do you watch a lot of film?
Burke: I watch a lot of film.

NBA.com: Yourself or other players?
Burke: I watched a lot of myself last year. This summer, I watched a lot of Tony Parker, a lot of Chris Paul and how they’re so successful in pick-and-rolls. I felt like I was really good at Michigan. Now I’m trying to take it to that next level.

NBA.com: With the moves the Jazz have made, it’s your show. You ready for that?
Burke: Absolutely. I love challenges and this is one of the biggest challenges of my life. I’ve prepared for this challenge. I’m definitely looking forward to going in there and making an impact right away.

NBA.com: Is there a lot of pressure because you’re the starting point guard or not so much because expectations are low for the team?
Burke: I think it’s both. But with my mind set, I love to win, so I plan on winning. As bold as that sounds, I just plan on winning. I think it’s only pressure if you put the pressure on yourself. If I go out there trying to please the fans, trying please the coaching staff, rather than just playing my game, that’s where the pressure comes. But I think I’ll do just fine.

D-League Select Squad: Summer League Underdogs

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LAS VEGAS
– They’re the store brand here at the Summer League, to the point that you half-expect to see a bar code on the backs of their jerseys rather than traditional numbers. The D-League Select squad participating against the 21 NBA teams that sent rosters full of young and hopeful players to the desert is the Acme soup or Brand X cereal that allegedly tastes just like the highly marketed, big-label products, only without the big-label price.

No nickname. Just a generic logo from the NBA’s minor league on their shirts. And unmistakable chips on their shoulders.

Compared to other teams’ coaches and even players who have been grumbling about the new tournament format in the Las Vegas Summer League extending their stays and messing with offseason plans, the guys on the D-League Select team are grateful. Grateful for the chance to keep on playing, to keep on winning, to keep on attracting eyeballs.

The 14 teams on Friday’s scheduled of seven games were essentially done – they had dropped into the “consolation round” in the tournament format and, once they completed their fifth and final Vegas game, they were gone. But the D-Leaguers were 4-0 and still plugging, pitted against Charlotte in a quarterfinals game Saturday evening.

So yes, on Friday morning, they were practicing. Other quarterfinals clubs may have been cheerily wishing each other “Bad luck!” – with each loss came a ticket home – but these guys were hoping to stretch their stay through Monday’s championship game.

“We’re playing to win, whereas the NBA teams, it’s more about their one or two draft picks and their young guys,” said Alex Jensen, the D-League’s Coach of the Year in 2013 with the Canton Charge who is overseeing the summer squad. “Really, you can’t blame them.

“But I told [our players], ‘The best thing that can happen for all you guys is for us to win. Because then people will take notice that ‘You’re just as good as guys on any team that we will play. Believe me, it’s the truth.’ “

Jensen is living the dream that his players still are pursuing; he has joined the Utah Jazz staff as director of player development for 2013-14. Few if any of the guys he is coaching have deals for next season anywhere.

“I just hope I get a job somewhere. Either it’s cross-seas or getting invited to training camp or hopefully be with an NBA team,” said forward Darnell Jackson, who played for the Reno Bighorns after stints with Cleveland (2008, 2009), Milwaukee (2010) and Sacramento (2012). He also has played in China and the Ukraine.

“If not, I’m just blessed to be in the situation I’m in now,” said Jackson, a second-round pick by Miami in 2008 after playing four years (with one NCAA title) at Kansas. “I just guess those guys who are saying they’re ready to go home are having a bad experience.

“With us, we’re all here trying to prove ourselves to the coaches and the NBA teams that we’re willing to be here and to keep working. And we’re having fun at the same time. We’re winning games, we’re playing hard together. We’re gonna keep pushing.”

Dominique Sutton, a 6-foot-5 wing player from North Carolina Central, averaged 10.2 points for the Tulsa 66ers last season and won the Slam Dunk contest at the D-League Showcase.

“We all had a goal at the beginning to try to surprise people, take people by storm,” Sutton said. “A lot of people look at the front of our jerseys and see ‘D-League Select’ and think we’re a bunch of guys that really don’t know the game. ‘It’s the D-League, they’re not playing for an NBA team.’ So we come in with a chip on our shoulders, man. We feel, just play harder and we’ll come up a success.”

In their four games, the D-Leaguers have outscored their foes by an average of 5.8 points, while outshooting and outrebounding them too. Stefhon Hannah, a 6-foot-1 guard from Missouri, the Santa Cruz Warriors and assorted teams in Europe, Asia and South America, was their leading scorer (14.8 ppg), and 6-foot-6 guard Elijah Millsap was next at 14.3.

Millsap is familiar – thanks to his brother Paul, the former Jazz and now Hawks forward – with what life in the NBA is like. But guard Kyle Weaver is one of the D-Leaguers who actually knows, having played 73 games in three seasons with Oklahoma City and Utah. He played in Belgium and Germany, too, and was with the D-League’s Austin Toros last season before being traded to Canton in February.

“A lot of guys are curious to try to get up there,” Weaver said after practice Friday. “That’s why you can see on the court how we’re playing. Guys are scrapping, guys just want to get that opportunity. Grinding with these guys has been good. It’s definitely worth it.”

So the D-League Select team keeps grinding toward the Summer League championship. It’s a crown mostly scoffed at by the established NBA teams but something the D-Leaguers are happy to chase, because it keeps them playing. The auditions aren’t over.

Leaders Of The Revival

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Surely, folks in Sacramento weren’t happy to learn that Tyreke Evans was one of the first four players trimmed from the USA Basketball roster for this summer’s world championships (O.J. Mayo, JaVale McGee and Gerald Wallace were the others).

Evans, the NBA’s reigning T-Mobile Rookie of the Year, couldn’t have been pleased either.

But there’s a silver lining in this for the hometown Kings. Because now Evans can get in the gym and develop some chemistry with the guy that must be his new best friend, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins (he’s the big fella in the video above).

And if the Kings are intent on escaping lottery country and returning to relevancy in a packed Western Conference, they’ll have to do it on the backs on their new inside-out combo of Evans and Cousins.

If Cousins has anywhere near the season and impact that Evans had in his first year in a Kings uniform, the franchise revival being planned in Sacramento could come much sooner than expected.

Our skepticism about this team here at the hideout was fueled by the still to be determined ability of all the new pieces to fit together (Kevin Martin‘s been on the HT fantasy team since his rookie year, so we’re still not over the Kings dumping him last season). There is also clearly a lack of backcourt depth to suit our liking (and we’re guessing this means we’re kicked out of the Beno Udrih fan club).

But the rest of the supporting cast seems to be in place. We love what Omri Casspi brings to the party. He’s a ferocious competitor with the versatility and skills to work in a variety of capacities, depending on what coach Paul Whestphal decides works best. Guys like Carl Landry, Sam Dalembert, Jason Thompson and Donte Green give Westphal a multitude of frontcourt options to play with this season.

That also means “Boogie” won’t have to deliver huge numbers right away. If he just comes along at a solid rate and does his best to avoid the some of the pitfalls that can derail a rookie season, these Kings could be on the way to making some noise after the All-Star break.

The playoffs might be too ambitious … but what’s wrong with a little ambition this time of year?

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 18)

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Summer League is over and the free agent frenzy has slowed to a crawl.

Someone even had the nerve to utter the word “offseason” here at the hideout, a taboo topic around these parts where we go hard, 365 days a year.

The Hang Time Podcast, however, is still going strong. Episode 18 is ready for your ears and filled with information.

LISTEN HERE:


Michael Lee of the Washington Post joined us to talk about John Wall‘s sensational summer league debut and what’s in store for Wall, Gilbert Arenas and the rest of a Wizards team bent on resurrecting itself after a tumultuous 2009-10 season.

NBA.com’s very own Art Garcia also joined us from Las Vegas to discuss the summer’s most intriguing rookie lightning rod, Wall’s former Kentucky teammate DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins, and much, much more.

We’ve also added a new wrinkle to the show. The HTP Skype Call of the Week made it’s debut. We’re taking at least one call a week from the listeners. Make sure to stay tuned to the show on Twitter so you can weigh in on whatever topics we are discussing every week.

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast and your host, on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Breakdown of the Banter:

0:00- Intro

4:25- Michael Lee of the Washington Post breaks down John Wall’s performance in Summer League

-  Leadership on the court with Wall and Gilbert Arenas

-  Growing popularity of Wizards in D.C.

-  Comparing Wall’s play to other NBA players

-  Where will the Wizard’s fall in the 2010-11 season?

20:49- Art Garcia for NBA.com discusses DeMarcus Cousins‘ ups and downs in Summer League

-  Criticism on Cousins by media

-  “Other guys” who performed big at SL

-  Chatter about the Heat at SL

37:43- Skype Call of The Week, question about free agents the Chicago Bulls could still pick up

39:09- Wrap-up

Record Summer League wraps

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGAS — NBA Summer League began with a record number teams and finished with record attendance. Not a bad 10 days in the desert.

“We’re always coming in with some trepidation,” Summer League founder and executive director Warren LeGarie said. “We weren’t sure we were going to get the amount of teams, there was some talk that some of them were looking to go elsewhere. When it was all said and done, it was the biggest participation we’ve had.”
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The even attracted 23 teams — 22 from the NBA and a D-League Select squad — for 58 games played at COX Pavilion and Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV. Final attendance numbers weren’t immediately available, but LeGarie said it outdrew last year earlier this week and the average per day was well in excess of 4,000.

First overall pick John Wall of Washington dazzled crowds and earned the MVP award. The league also showcased the majority of last month’s first-round picks, including Rookie of the Month DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento.

“It was quite a show here,” LeGarie said.

He’s already started planning for next year, hoping to continue the growth and momentum of 2010.

“Vegas really stepped up this year and they really came out to support us,” LeGarie said. “We’re always hopeful that things work out, so the dreaded lockout doesn’t affect us.”

Mission helps shape Carroll

Posted by Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — Getting rejected by NBA teams is nothing for Jaycee Carroll.

Carroll, a 27-year-old guard who has spent the last two seasons overseas, has a little experience in rejection.

As a 19-year-old, Carroll spent two years as a Mormon missionary in the streets of Santiago Chile.
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“Honestly, I’ve learned how to deal with rejection,” Carroll said after finishing his stint with the Knicks in Las Vegas. “Walking through the streets, you get a ton of people saying, ‘Leave me alone.’ Here, you can get discouraged easily when you sit on the bench an entire game or when you’re trying to get a deal done with a team and they say, ‘We’re just not interested.’

“It can really get you down if you don’t see things in a positive light, and I really learned that on my mission,” Carroll said.

Carroll was impressive in Orlando, averaging 14.8 points in four games for the Celtics, showing off a nice jump shot with an ability to get into the lane for the floater. In Vegas, Carroll’s playing time was limited and he averaged just 6.5 points in 11.3 minutes per game.

Carroll has spent the last two seasons in Europe, first with Teramo of the Italian league, where he averaged 16.4 points. This past season, Carroll averaged 19.1 points while playing for Gran Canarias in the Spanish league.

The 27-year-old — who claims his “basketball age” is actually 25 if you consider his two years off — has enjoyed life on the European circuit with the help of his wife and 1-year-old daughter.

“They like it,” said Carroll, who played collegiately at Utah State. “They’re troopers and really they like everywhere we end up. We were on an island by the beach in the Canaries, so you can’t beat that.”

While Carroll’s ultimate goal is to get a guaranteed contract with an NBA team, he has a few offers on the table from European teams. If the call from the NBA doesn’t come, though, you can bet he’ll be just fine, thanks to his mission experience.

“[The mission] helped me have a good positive outlook on things,” Carroll said. “I’ve been through a lot more difficult times than playing basketball.”

Wall leads All-Tournament Team

Posted by Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — Washington point guard John Wall took home top honors as Most Outstanding Player in Las Vegas after leading all players in scoring (23.5 ppg) and assists (7.8 apg). Fellow rookie DeMarcus Cousins was honored as T-Mobile Rookie of the Month for his impressive Summer League showing. Below are the rest of the players named to the All-Tournament team.
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T-Mobile Rookie of the Month
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento)

Most Outstanding Player
John Wall (Washington)

All-Tournament Team
Sam Young (Memphis)
JaVale McGee (Washington)
Reggie Williams (Golden State)
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto)
JJ Hickson (Cleveland)
Ty Lawson (Denver)
Dominique Jones (Dallas)
Derrick Caracter (LA Lakers)
Larry Sanders (Milwaukee)
Gani Lawal (Phoenix)
Jermaine Taylor (Houston)
Alonzo Gee (San Antonio)

Cousins named top SL rookie

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGASJohn Wall who?

The top pick apparently wasn’t Summer League’s best rookie despite leading the circuit in assists (7.8) and being tied for the scoring lead (23.5) going into Sunday. That honor goes to DeMarcus Cousins.

The fifth selection by Sacramento was awarded the T-Mobile Rookie of the Month award for July, receiving the glass trophy before the Kings played Dallas in the last game at COX Pavilion.
Complete Summer League coverage on NBA.com
Prior to Sacrament’s finals, Cousins led the league in rebounding at 10.6 and was averaging 16.2 points in five games. He’s been a force through Summer League, giving Sacramento an intimidating presence in the paint.

Wall, though, easily made the biggest impact of any of the rookie. Washington’s also prized playmaker played under the brightest spotlight.

Cousins’ selection as top rookie over Wall comes off as somewhat curious. Perhaps the fact that the Wizards left yesterday tipped the scales in Cousins’ favor. Can’t have a trophy presentation without someone to present it to.

Jennings liking Sanders’ game


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Posted by Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — Before the Bucks drafted Larry Sanders with the 15th pick, Brandon Jennings was clueless about his new teammate.

Complete Summer League coverage on NBA.com
“I knew nothing,” Jennings said. “When they said they were gonna pick him I didn’t know who he was at all. But when they said he could run the floor and block shots, it was exactly what we need.”

Jennings was in Las Vegas to watch his new teammates, hoping to get some run in with Sanders, the future recipient of his passes.

“The coaches weren’t having it,” Jennings said with a laugh. “I’m really excited to get to play with him, though.”

And why shouldn’t he be after watching Sanders in Las Vegas?

Sanders, a long, athletic, 6-foot-11 big man ouf of VCU who can play either the 4 or 5, averaged 14.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in the Bucks’ five games.

“I give myself a C+,” Sanders said. “My defense was where I think I did the best, just blocking shots, going hard. I was just tring to keep up the intensity. I had a lot of fun out here in Vegas.”

Lieberman goes to Summer school

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGASNancy Lieberman has seen and done just about everything there is to do in basketball. The Hall of Famer and groundbreaking head coach of the new D-League Texas Legends went back to school somewhat during Summer League.

Lieberman talked technique and teaching philosophy with coaches and executives from around the NBA. She scouted players, keeping an out potential fits for the Legends. The experience proved enlightening.
Complete Summer League coverage on NBA.com
“It’s amazing the fraternity of coaches, and how willing and wanting they are for you to be successful,” said Lieberman, the first female coach of men’s professional basketball team. “I have rolodex of cards in front of me. Mitch Kupchak: ‘What do you need?’ Ronnie Rothstein: ‘What do you need?’

“It’s been great.”

Lieberman has been impressed by the level of talent and can’t wait to start working with it in a few months. The Legends don’t have any players yet.

“I need to be familiar with what they do well,” she said. “It’s the Summer League; guys are working on their games. Some are trying to prove they can play. Some are trying to get guaranteed money. Some are trying to establish themselves in Europe.

“No matter what happens, in November we’ll have a group of players and we will coach them with our philosophy and how we create our culture.”

The Legends, co-owned by Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson, begin play this fall in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. The franchise is already off to a good start, having sold more than 13,000 tickets for its inaugural season.