Must have been the airplane

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Blazers Edge

Truthaboutit was much more optimistic than I and a number of you were last night, but we need to keep this in perspective.  It's certainly frustrating that our Summer League team featuring four guys with NBA experience and two recent draft picks couldn't beat a Portland team that really only had three headliners, but keep in mind that Summer League isn't about results as much as it is about the process.  So, what did we see tonight?

Some good, some bad, and maddening inconsistency.  Some quick thoughts:

Andray Blatche

On the bright side, he was aggressive and showed a renewed ability to finish around the rim.  He did have one shot blocked, but otherwise, he displayed a nice drop step and was able to put home two dunks.  He did shoot a couple long jumpers, but when he had the ball, he tried to drive to the basket instead of settling for crazy floaters.  On occasion, he was out of control, and there were a couple dribble-up-the-court moments, but overall, I thought he was the team's best offensive player. 

Defensively, though, he committed a ton of fouls as Jerryd Bayless kept jumping into him.  He lost concentration a lot on the glass and allowed his man lots of offensive rebounds.  Then, there's the last possession, where he had the ball knocked out of his hands, allowing the Blazers to rebound Bayless' missed free throw.  It encapsulated everything maddening about Blatche.  He can look so physically imposing and yet be so mentally weak.

Still, he picked it up after a bad start, so I'm mostly happy with how he played.  Summer League is a guard's game, so I think some of the criticisms of his play are unfair.  That said, he really needs to pick it up defensively.  I'm cool with him trying to make moves off the dribble, because the team isn't going to run the offense effectively with so few practices, but he needs to show better on the pick and roll and box out his man.

JaVale McGee

There actually was a bright side to McGee's game, believe it or not.  He has the potential to be a great one-on-one defender simply because of his length.  He blocked three shots and altered several more, both on penetration and while playing one-on-one defense.  Offensively, at least we can say he has a nice touch from the outside.  His game has that Brendan Haywood-like awkwardness, but he definitely bothers people defensively and can shoot the ball offensively.  I can see what Ernie and company saw in the kid.

Alas, that was about it.  The craziest stat of the night was that McGee had zero defensive rebounds in the entire game.  Zero!  He should have had one on the final possession, but he allowed the fall to fall out of his fingers.  Project or not, no seven-footers should have zero defensive rebounds in a Summer League game.

Nick Young

Of all the guys, Young probably let me down the most.  I was expecting to see him attacking the basket and showing renewed commitment defensively, but instead, he was breaking plays, shooting fadeaways all over the court and allowing Bayless to blow right by him.  His final stat line looked good, but believe me, he stunk tonight. 

The thing is, if he sticks to running off screens for mid-range jumpers, he won't have to break the offense to get scores.  He hit some contested shots off screens, but I'd rather see him do that than holding the ball and trying to make a one-on-one move.  Hopefully, we'll see more action on screens in the next game.

Lots of people are down on Blatche, but I really expected more from Young last night.

Dominic McGuire

Where was he?  As Blatche and Young took turns forcing shots, McGuire wasn't doing anything to free himself offensively.  He had one drive to the basket, but the ball was poked away.  Defensively, we only saw one Taser moment. 

He looked tired more than anything.  Hopefully, it was just the problems with the plane ride.

Dee Brown

Played well in the first half, but really struggled defensively and with turnovers down the stretch.  His inability to stop Petteri Koponen set the stage for the Blazers' comeback.  To be fair, none of the Wizards' big men were hedging much on the screen.  McGee was too slow to come out too far, and I'd rather see him in the paint anyway.  Blatche tried, but failed most of the time.  That forced Brown to go under the screens, and Koponen was hitting his shot down the stretch.

Other than a random stretch in the third quarter when he dribbled out of bounds and threw a pass away, he ran the offense fairly well.  He kind of looked like Aaron Miles, except a little taller and with a guaranteed contract. 

I'm hoping we see a little more offense from him, but otherwise, he was alright.  The turnovers will probably go away next game.

Vladimir Veremeeko

He missed a layup, then barely made a wide-open left-handed layup when everyone else stopped playing.  I don't think I need to say any more. 

On the plus side, he did show a willingness to mix it up inside and he didn't try to break the offense.  That said, I don't see how he fits into our future.  He's too slow to be a small forward, but too small to be a power forward.

Everyone else

Frank Elegar was really aggressive in his first stint, driving whenever he got the chance and somehow getting to the line eight times.  If everyone else was half as aggressive and smart as Elegar was in his first stint, we'd have won by 30.  Unfortunately, he kind of disappeared in the second half, but I'll be watching him more closely.

Gary Forbes played pretty well, though he was invisible a lot of the time.  Same for Jonathan Wallace. 

Otherwise, while this performance stunk, keep in mind that they literally arrived to the game two hours before it started.  Hopefully, they've gotten that out of their system and can show us a little more next game.

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