Summer Lovin' 2: Mavs 85, Raptors 75

Summer Lovin' 2: Mavs 85, Raptors 75

Day-by-day in Vegas we learn some things. For instance: Well, the Mavericks' Summer League roster is considerably better than the Raptors' Summer League roster. At least that's the way it looked Monday night as Dallas defeated Toronto 85-75. And what else did we - and observer Rick Carlisle - learn?

In Game 2, the Mavericks seemed to be doing all the things that a basketball junkie likes to see: They were playing hard on defense, running the floor, taking it to the rim, sharing the ball and moving well without the ball. These are the kind of things that you like to see from young players trying to find their place in the NBA (or find a place in the NBA).

On the other hand I hope that some of the people begging the Dallas Mavericks to trade up in the draft in order to take shooting guard Terrence Ross watched this game. I hate to be too critical of a young player who hasn't played an NBA game yet, but I wasn't sold on Ross before the draft and I am less convinced after this game as he finished with 11 points off of 5-of-12 shooting.

Scouts praised Ross for his 6'7 frame and his ability to shoot and flat-out score. But I saw a very one-dimensional player with a number of bad habits on Monday night. Ross was a black hole who shot nearly every time he touched the ball. He took plenty of contested jumpers off the dribble and he was a liability on defense. If you don't have the talent of Tracy McGrady in his prime then you can't afford to play like him. I don't think former Mavs' assistant coach Duane Casey - now the Raps' boss -- will put up with poor defensive efforts even if they come from a number seven overall pick.

So while the Mavericks chose not to trade up to get Ross (who I'll admit still has quite a ceiling), we all know they traded down to get a number of players. I realize that I'm perhaps being a prisoner of the moment (in a summer league game!), but I have a feeling that one of those players, Jae Crowder, might be one of the steals of the draft.
As advertised, Crowder "does everything." He can shoot, get to the basket, pass, rebound, and defend. He has a constant motor. As I've watched him the past two games I see the 6'6 forward showing a knack for moving without the ball and scoring on the quick catch. He finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds and seemed to often be at the right place at the right time.

If I squint, I can also see Crowder being considered for real minutes this season at small forward. He will bring it defensively.

For all the experience that Bernard James has in life, we forget that he will need to gain a lot of experience as a big man in the NBA. He seems to have the strength and the size, but he will need to learn how to use it against players with the same kind of strength and size. Ed Davis seemed to have the upper hand on him most of the game, but Bernard still managed an impressive 13 points and 11 rebounds. James will need some time in the NBA before he becomes a serious contributor, but I'm excited to see where he'll be after plenty of coaching and experience.

Observer Rick Carlisle (who spent much of the game in injured Jared Cunningham's ear) seems to label Drew Gordon as the guy that probably won't make the Mavs' roster but will make it in the NBA somewhere. I might say to that, don't count out Tu Holloway, either. The point guard out of Xavier hasn't gotten much playing time, but he has supreme confidence in himself and can shoot the ball and can get where he wants on the court.
And of course, there's Dominique Jones. Another very solid game for DoJo, who finished with 21 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds but as Kevin Brolan pointed out after DoJo's wonderful Game 1 showing with 32 points, it's tough to assess how that will translate to the regular season. But it's clear that Jones has been taking over both games because he knows he has the largest combination of talent and experience on the roster, which will never be the case during the regular season. Jones will have to show a better ability to pass the ball if he wants to get many minutes at the point guard this season, but it's hard to criticize him when he is scoring with such ease.

Two games in DoJo's play has been described as "relentless" and his attitude as "refusing to settle." That's what the Mavericks are looking for. Similar positives can be said about Jae Crowder thus far. And these are also the attributes that first-round pick Cunningham has been praised with. These three players will almost certainly have the chance to be on the roster come November. Their level of aggression will determine how much playing time they get.

Well, that and a decision from Rick to get out of their ear and get them onto the floor.

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