On draft night, I was exceptionally pleased with our 26th overall pick. We traded down, acquired another draft pick, shed salary, and still got a player whose statistics and skill set rivaled those of guys drafted in the teens. Q's play in summer league only enhanced my opinion of the selection.
On Saturday, we glimpsed Quincy's NBA potential. After the jump, a breakdown of 27 plays from Q's final Summer League game and what we can learn from them.
1st Q, 6:22- Pondexter plays the entry pass lane, anticipates the throw in, picks it, and ignites a break.
1st Q, 5:19- Ronald Dupree beats Pondexter along the baseline, but he recovers well to challenge the shot. The reaction time is very good, as is the acceleration in changing directions. His length helps him back into the play more than anything.
1st Q, 4:13- A James Mays (Toronto) shot hangs on the rim. Pondexter has good position from the beginning for the rebound, but the ball hanging up allows Ed Davis (6'10") and Cheikh Samb (7'1") to get into the picture. Pondexter holds his box out on both of them, outleaps both to get the rebound.
1st Q, 3:49- Ronald Dupree pump fakes a jumper from the left elbow. Pondexter bites on the fake, jumping in the air, but gets out of the way upon landing. Dupree leans into him anyway (a la Paul Pierce or Derek Fisher) and draws a dubious foul call.
1st Q, 0:01- Pondexter follows James Mays through traffic in the paint and two off-ball screens, eventually following him to the wing where Mays isolates. Mays spins once to his left, but this time Pondexter doesn't bite and forces a missed jumper at the buzzer.
2nd Q, 1:21- Pondexter is isolated up top against Toronto's point guard (B. Brown, I believe, but I didn't note it down). He fights through a Samb pick to track the PG to the right wing, and on a mishandled dribble by the point guard, Pondexter swipes the ball.
3rd Q, 2:59- Ronald Dupree pump fakes and again gets Pondexter in the air. This time, Pondexter can't recover nearly as well and the subsequent foul call is more legitimate. After the play, Mike Malone explains some positioning to Q.
1st Q, 5:50- Pondexter backs down Ronald Dupree (6'7, 220) easily, to gain post position. He doesn't get an entry pass though.
1st Q, 2:23- Hornets come up in semi-transition. Pondexter sets hard, legal screen, completely freeing up Josh Carter for an easy cut to the hoop. Maurice Ager doesn't see him, pulls back out, and New Orleans calls timeout.
1st Q, 2:12- Off the timeout, virtually a mirror image of the last play happens. Pondexter delayed cuts off a an off-ball screen and cuts straight to the hoop, but Ager again misses the cutter.
2nd Q, 0:37- Pondexter again has an easy backdown opportunity against Dupree. Halfway through his move, Toronto is whistled for illegal defense. Pondexter misses the technical free throw.
3rd Q, 5:48- Pondexter leads a Hornets break, dribbling the ball past half court. He finds Brackins streaking to the hoop. CB is fouled and makes both free throws.
3rd Q, 1:45- Off a Toronto miss, the Hornets start the break. Pondexter gets the ball around midcourt, running a 2 on 2, with both his teammate and his teammate's defender on the far side of the floor. Pondexter runs hard at his defender in the open floor and performs a nifty left to right crossover, drawing some oohs from the crowd. His defender schooled, Pondexter finishes the easy layup.
1st Q, 4:01- The first of many, many hard, aggressive drives by Pondexter. He anticipates the contact, but Samb commits a hard foul (on his wrists, from what I could tell). Pondexter helped up, then makes both free throws.
2nd Q, 7:27- Pondexter starts at the left wing and drives in with his right hand towards the paint. He draws contact from three players and can't finish his shot, but is fouled.
2nd Q, 3:08- Pondexter receives a pass while standing in the left corner. He gets a step on his man and accelerates towards the hoop, attempting to throw down an ambitious dunk on Samb. He's fouled hard yet again.
3rd Q, 6:39- Pondexter drives hard through the middle of the paint, but he keeps the ball down low, and has it knocked cleanly out of bounds.
3rd Q, 2:37- After receiving a pass on the elbow, Pondexter drives hard towards his right side from the left side of the floor. He finishes with a teardrop before the closest defender can rotate.
4th Q, 6:36- Pondexter charges into the lane into traffic, but there's limited contact by defenders. He tries the floater again, and this time has it swatted out into the seats by Samb.
4th Q, 4:19- Pondexter gets to his spot on the right baseline, fakes a shot, and continues with another hard drive. Again, he's fouled hard to the ground by Toronto big men.
1st Q, 2:41- Pondexter receives the ball on a clear out at the left elbow. Kyle Hines posts on the right side and runs a give and go with Q. Pondexter airballs the 12 footer from the baseline, but it's the first of many looks from that exact spot for him.
1st Q, 0:48- With the shot clock winding down, Pondexter has the ball, isolated on the left wing. He performs a couple dribbles before elevating. Toronto's Michael Roll matches his jump for a difficult contest, but Pondexter drills it.
1st Q, 0:12- Again, Pondexter gets to "his spot" on the right baseline, but can't hit the jumper. Clangs it.
2nd Q, 8:37- Pondexter executes the same give and go with Hines that they tried at 2:41 in the first quarter. He gets to literally the exact same spot from where he airballed and bricked the first two, but he buries it this time.
3rd Q, 7:45- Craig Brackins sets an elbow screen. Pondexter navigates around, gets into the lane, and hits a fallaway 7 footer.
3rd Q, 7:32- Pondexter works off a Brian Cusworth screen to get to his customary spot on the baseline. He doesn't elevate nearly enough and his shot is swatted out of bounds.
3rd Q, 6:32- New Orleans inbounds the ball on the baseline with 2 seconds on the shot clock. Brackins receives the pass on the narrow wing and immediately passes to Pondexter on the deep wing. Q drills the three at the buzzer.
Pondexter has shown great ability to mix shooting with driving. Through summer, he only shot 41% from the field, but he did convert numerous long jumpers over good contests. Defensively, he took on the other team's best player often (most notably John Wall on Friday). I'm not worried about the number of fouls he commited- (a) guys were banging on each other all week long; summer league is extremely physical, and (b) he was always one of the first guys back in transition for the team, resulting in layup-stopping fouls.
Additionally, Pondexter showed very good ball handling ability, seeing use as a point forward. If you're looking for one reason why Pondexter's not the next Julian Wright, look no further. Q is very comfortable with the ball in his hands (his 7 turns vs. Washington were more a function of the length of guys like McGee deflecting passes).
As far as potential improvements: Q could stand to become a better passer, as he didn't show too much vision over his five games. He wasn't a very active rebounder, averaging just 4 per game. And he obviously has to work defensively if he's going to become the team's perimeter stopper. But focusing on the present: all the tools are there; physically, he's ready for the NBA, and he really has a great feel for the flow of the game. Offensively, Q is a polished player, and defensively, he's certainly one of the better rookies. You never expect success from a 26th overall selection, but for now, let's just say I'm excited.