Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. On today’s episode of The Old Man and the Three Things, our exclusive podcast with Amazon Music, Tommy and I discuss some standout players in Summer League, our thoughts on Chris Paul to the Warriors, and how we feel about the in-season tournament. And if you missed it, last week’s episode of The Old Man and the Three with Brian Windhorst was a fun one.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we’re giving you:
Steve Jones Jr. of The Dunker Spot on Summer League
Tommy on two standout players in Summer League
The Best Thing Tommy Ate Last Week (in Vegas)
Thanks for reading! —JJ
Take note of the little things at Summer League
Summer League in Vegas has come a long way, folks. And I love every second of it.
When I played at UNLV (yes I did, yes it was a long time ago, leave me alone) you could walk through Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavillion unbothered. Now you see the change as the basketball world descends into Las Vegas. From the Sphere, to the sellouts, to the buzz in the arena, you can feel the energy. The polos, the notebooks, the (increasingly bigger) credentials, the shuffle as people try to move between arenas, the in-game interviews. It’s always had its charm, but each year feels bigger than the year before.
It’s a time for opportunity, not just for the headlining rookies. Returning players get an opportunity to work on different aspects of their game in a different role. Remember when Desmond Bane had a ton of on-ball reps in Summer League and then …. doubled his scoring average in the regular season? Summer League laid a base. New coaches, acquisitions, and staff have an opportunity to come together. Staff members get a chance to elevate into a different role and find their voice. Everyone is playing for a chance to be seen.
The real fun of Summer League is taking notes of the little things. Every team would love for their young players to put up the type of numbers you can Quote Tweet, but take note of what you see. This is the first opportunity to get an idea of what skills may translate, what skills may have been slept on. Use it as a bookmark for later down the line.
And most importantly, never forget when the Los Angeles Clippers started a Summer League game in zone. One of the ruder things I’ve seen on a basketball court. —Steve
ESPN legend Brian Windhorst joined the show last week for a free agency edition of The Old Man and the Three. He shares his thoughts on the free agency moves and strategies around the league, gives a stellar lesson on the business of the modern NBA, reveals a career regret, opens up about his experience covering LeBron James, and much more.
Summer League Players of the Week: Keyonte George and Jabari Smith Jr.
NBA Summer League is a lot of things. It's a high school reunion in 115 degree heat. It's a marketing tool for any new products the league wants to soft launch. It's a content filler for the month of July, one of the slowest sports months of the year. What it isn't is representative of future NBA success. The highest scoring summer league games of all time are:
Anthony Morrow (Warriors): 47 points in 2009
Anthony Randolph (also 2009 Warriors randomly): 42 points
Von Wafer (Nuggets): 42 points
Marcus Banks (Suns): 42 points
A good sports trivia question for sure. So no, somebody going off at Thomas & Mack on a random Tuesday in July does not mean they will do it come October. With that being said, Wemby aside, the two guys this weekend that were most impressive:
Keyonte George: Going 16th to the Jazz last month, I'm not sure a ton of people were keying on Keyonte as guy to watch right away. He was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and could certainly fill a stat sheet, but looked to be a bit of a work in progress from an efficiency standpoint. He definitely opened some eyes on Saturday. His 33 points, 5/8 from 3, 10-2 assist/turnover ratio were made more impressive by the fact that he never had more than 7 assists in a game at Baylor. Elite shotmaking across the board. Scoring 17 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, perhaps the most impressive thing about George was his pace and control the entire game. He never forced or rushed anything. He will have growing pains for sure, but for a 19-year-old, this was about as promising a start as the Jazz could have hoped.
Jabari Smith Jr.: This one feels a little like cheating because we're talking about the 3rd overall pick from last year who had a great NBA run in his second half of the season. But Jabari absolutely hooped this weekend. 35.5 points on 64% true shooting. 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game. A crazy buzzer beater, solid shit talking and alertness defensively. The Rockets tried out a few small ball lineups with Smith at the 5 which is when their defense was most successful. Something to remember for the fall. If Jabari's dribble pull up is falling this guy is going to be really hard to guard, a really promising weekend for a team that suddenly has an insane amount of young talent. —Tommy
Best Thing Tommy Ate Last Week: Cumin Beef Wrap at Bāng Bar
Located on the 2nd floor of the Cosmo in the food court, David Chang's Bāng Bar by Momofuku is unassuming from the outside. Looks like any other food court takeout wrap spot. Think again. Their wraps are made with fluffy, light griddled flatbread, the perfect texture for any wrap or chickpea dip. The cumin beef is lightly seasoned and shredded, and was in one of the best wraps I've had recently, but everything looked pretty good. Would definitely check it out if you're in Vegas this week. —Tommy
Bāng Bar | Instagram | Block 16 Urban Food Hall, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Level 2, Boulevard Tower, Las Vegas, NV 89109
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