The Grizzlies Vegas Summer League squad moved to 2-0 yesterday with a 90-86 win over a Knicks team featuring first-round picks Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas.
Despite racking up another win, however, yesterday's performance was less promising for most players on the Griz team. My player-by-player notes:
Darrell Arthur: After a decent performance in Game 1, Arthur stepped up his production even more in Game 2, finishing with a game-high 22 points (on 8-15 shooting), 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 28 minutes. Arthur was the best player on the floor and impressed with his energy and effort on both ends of the floor. (Example: After turning over the ball at the top of the key, Arthur raced back to disrupt a 2-on-1 break, blocking the shot, then saving the ball to a teammate while falling out of bounds.) For Arthur to become the kind of pro he's capable of, he needs to do two things in particular: Bring consistent energy defensively and on the boards and shoot effectively from mid-range. Yesterday was a good performance on both counts.
DeMarre Carroll: The so-called "Junkyard Dog" continues to impress me more than anyone else on the summer squad relative to my expectations. Carroll's stat line was modest — 9 points (4-7 shooting), 4 boards, and 2 assists in 24 minutes — but he showed the same positive attributes from the first game. He really is an extremely active player — getting deflections, tracking down loose balls, breaking up plays. He didn't take any three-pointers (the entire team was 0-3 from downtown), but hit a couple of contested mid-range shots, range the floor well, and continued to show a better than expected handle. The more I watch Carroll the less I worry about him making the move from a college "four" to a pro "three".
Hasheem Thabeet: Okay. Here's where the happy talk ends. Thabeet finished with 6 points (3-6 shooting), 6 boards, and 1 block in 24 minutes and, frankly, didn't look much better than Hamed Haddadi. Thabeet again showed that his lack of upper-body strength is a problem, having trouble controlling the ball in the post against defensive pressure. While he did visibly alter some shots, there were plenty of baskets made right over him by marginal players: Joe Crawford went right at him for the hoop and harm; Blake Ahern sank a mid-range jumper with Thabeet coming out to contest; Morris Almond connected on a teardrop just over Thabeet's out-stretched arm. If he's going to be a game-altering defensive force at the pro level, he's yet to show it.
Thabeet's lack of palpable defensive impact is more troubling because he doesn't have much else to justify his high draft slot right now. As a rebounder, he corrals his share out of size, but doesn't seem to be a good rebounder. Too often yesterday, Thabeet was batting at balls rather than snaring them. And offensively, he just doesn't have much of a game right now. The team seemed to be running more post players for Thabeet in the second game, but even when he scored it was labored. A made lefty jump hook was pretty mechanical. And the less said about his pull-up six-footer on the break the better. More than anything, you'd like to see more energy out of Thabeet.
Sam Young: After his strong debut in Game 1, Young pulled a little bit of a disappearing act in Game 2. Young scored 7 points (3-10 shooting) and grabbed 5 rebounds in 24 minutes. He'll bounce back, I'm sure, but he certainly didn't do anything in this game to establish the long-range shooting or ball-handling that would be helpful it he's going to play primarily in the backcourt.
Hamed Haddadi: Haddadi had 4 points (2-6 shooting), 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 12 minutes. He was bothering Jordan Hill, altering many of his shots and cleanly blocking one of them. And he had another nice interior pass, though it didn't net an assist. Offensively, though, Haddadi was again a mess.
Marcus Williams: After his fluky 17-assist debut, Williams came back to earth. His stat line looked pretty good — 16 points (though only 5-15 shooting), 5 boards, 5 assists, and 1 turnover in 30 minutes. And he made some big scores down the stretch to help win the game. He forced his shot too much though. Williams still looks like a viable option as a back-up point guard. But I also still think he'd be the easiest and cheapest solution rather than the best one.