By: Ross Geiger
Game 1: Dallas Mavericks: 73 Milwaukee Bucks: 72 OT
After watching the Milwaukee Bucks lose a tough one in a very exciting battle with the Dallas Mavericks in their Summer League opener, I came away with five players that are worthy of some points of emphasis.
1. Darnell Jackson: Leading all scorers with 17 points in the contest, Jackson’s NBA experience really paid dividends. Going 8-15 from the field while collecting 7 boards all came under composure. Many of the young players came into the game with debut butterflies but it was evident that Jackson’s adapted to the summer league experiences. He led by example in 25 minutes of play and played under control the entire time, only committing 2 fouls as well. It’s still very early in a long process but his Game 1 play definitely helps his case in grabbing one of the last few spots on the Bucks roster this season.
2. Larry Sanders: Despite what many take from Sanders’ pro debut, I actually feel I saw more positives than negatives today. Yes he struggled offensively but we knew that was his biggest weakness coming in. Having only connected on 4 of his 15 shot attempts Sanders must improve upon finishing at the basket while absorbing contact, along with better shot selection. As far as the shot selection goes, that can easily improve as the games move on, he was trying to impress as any brand new top pick would in their debut. But as I mentioned there were tons of positives from this year’s 15th overall selection. Sanders is very active on both ends of the floor, alert at all times, and always attacking the glass. Those intangibles are things that will most definitely find him earning some floor time under Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles this year. Though it’s only one game and my first look at the Bucks rookie if I were to give you an outlook on Sanders’s first year with the Bucks here’s my evaluation: He’ll play spot minutes, be a spark plug used at the end of quarters giving guys quick breathers, instant energy. A very realistic first year comparison in terms of production and play I’d say he’ll be a lot like Suns forward Lou Amundson. With that being said, he obviously carries way more potential and talent moving forward with a bright future in this league. Just be patient and give him some time to transition and adjust to the NBA level of play.
3. Sean Williams: Being a guy always high on the potential of Area 51, I definitely won’t count him out on making an NBA roster this season. If he can prove (and keep) his head on straight (which is a big if) there’s no question he’s an NBA type talent. He’s long, runs the floor like gazelle, can clean up around the rim, and of course he lives up to his nickname “Area 51” protecting the paint by swatting away shots. What I liked in his first game with the Bucks was his patience, his control, and his willingness to move the ball. On top of that he impressed me with his 15 foot look that he drilled and also threw his body around a bit and took two charges. Williams has a great sense of when and when not to attempt to block a shot, he stays grounded at the right time and tends to pick the correct times to challenge a shot attempt. That feature of knowing when to block a shot could really benefit Bucks draftee Larry Sanders who doesn’t have the slightest clue when there’s a time and a place to leave his feet. Bucks fans, it’s a long shot, but don’t count out Williams on maybe earning that last roster spot. I wouldn’t bet on it, but his talent is intriguing and if there’s any organization that can help Williams change his off court habits it’s in Milwaukee. There’s no doubt the Bucks are great situation for Sean Williams future, the question is whether or not Williams is worth risking the team’s locker room atmosphere. If Xavier Henry or Paul George would have fallen to the Bucks at 15, I think Sean Williams maybe makes the team. But with Sanders on board, along with Tiny Gallon whose close with Brandon Jennings, I see Williams unfortunately not getting his second chance with the Bucks.
4. Deron Washington: A second round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in last year’s draft, Washington’s got an idea of what summer league’s all about this year. That showed in today’s game as Washington went 4-8 from the field, hitting 1 of 2 attempts from downtown, and 2-2 from the charity stripe. His contributions helped keep the Bucks in the ballgame and he hit some big shots. Washington finished with a solid 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, to go along with 2 steals. With continued play like this, Washington should find himself a nice look overseas next season.
5. Dominic James: The former standout point guard from Marquette is entering his redemption year after suffering a summer league ending injury just a day or two before he was set to participate in summer league last year with the Bucks. James didn’t have a pretty game by any means but his hard nosed, full court pressure defense and his efforts in getting good looks for those around him gives him my nod for my 5th and final spot. His highlighted plays include a buzzer beating high fade away jumper to end the first quarter of play, a nice no look dish hitting Darnell Jackson after drawing too, and his hustle play in which he sprinted all the way down on the defensive end, ultimately sacrificing his body leaping over the media table on the baseline. James isn’t quite a NBA level talent, but this type of play will definitely help his chances overseas, giving him more better opportunites in the future. I’m sure we’ll see Mr. James on an NBA Summer League roster next year as well. In the end, it’s great to see the Milwaukee Bucks giving exposure to Wisconsin area players: Dominic James, Jerry Smith, and Franklin.
The Bucks look to bounce back from their overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow against the Memphis Grizzlies. Game time is set from 8 ET and will be televised on NBATV.
Follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: (@RossGeiger)