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SummerBucks 76, SummerHornets 68: "It’s as though they’ve practiced 25 more times than us."

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So said RedHopeful in the gamethread, and so it was. SummerMilwaukee outplayed the SummerHornets for the SummerMost of this SummerGame, until a late SummerRun made it SummerClose. But alas.

- Rivers first. New Orleans let him play point guard quite a bit more than last night. I've got four primary Rivers thoughts after two games:

  1. This one is obvious about two minutes into any Rivers game - he falls down a lot. From all angles and heights, Rivers is prone to splattering himself on the court. By my count, he went down eleven times. Monty Williams mentioned during the third quarter that he doesn't mind it, but.. no. There are ways to draw fouls and contact without slamming into the floor at all opportunities, and if Rivers doesn't learn those ways quickly, he's going to be broken very soon.
  2. Two big developments tonight with the Grand Austin Rivers At point Guard Experiment (GARAGE). The first was the implementation of the drive and kick game. Rivers found shooters on seven different occasions after penetrating tonight, which should tell us two things - (a) the assist figures in these summer games aren't to be trusted; few of his teammates can shoot, and (b) there are numerous elements of point guard play that can implemented even in the absence of traditional point guard "skills" like court vision or radar imagery or whatever. Pre-set drive and kicks and pick and pops are two such elements, and two that Rivers can adopt early on.
  3. Rivers also made a couple neat cross-court finds in this game (one of my favorite characteristics of the Phoenix rookie Kendall Marshall). That's useful in transition, but it can also be very helpful in the halfcourt to swing from a defensively overloaded strong side to a free weakside. Minnesota loves doing this with Ricky Rubio swinging wing-to-wing to open up Kevin Love on the weakside, and given that the Hornets now have a very similar player to Love stylistically in Ryan Anderson (not that he's anywhere near as productive), that's a useful skill to have.
  4. One thing that troubles me even at this early stage - Rivers struggled with mild to moderate ball pressure for the second straight night. These are D-League quality defenders for the most part. In the first half, he was forced all the way to halfcourt and almost lost the ball on single coverage. Unsettling. It just goes to show that the most important PG dribbling skill isn't a crossover, spin, shoulder dip, or anything fancy (all of which Rivers can do). It's simply keeping the ball low and unexposed at all times (which, at least for now, he can't seem to).

- Denzel Bowles wasn't quite able to provide an encore of his Sunday performance, though Brian Roberts put in 11 points again on 7 shots. Those two are still my early leaders to progress to training camp.

- Darius Miller was more assertive (something Monty talked about during his interview) and had a nice step back jumper in the first half. I feel like wings and 3s are the hardest players to judge in summer league because the open, chaotic style allows them to run up and down and showcase their specific skills. And so I don't think we'll have a great read on what Miller's actually going to be until we're a lot closer to the start of the season.

- Jason Smith and Greivis Vasquez both flew to Las Vegas (Greivis from Venezuela) to be with the team, which is pretty sweet.

- Lance Thomas (22 points on 10/10 FTs) is my favorite guy on this roster. Pure energy on both ends, skilled enough offensively to make some moves, disruptive defensively, and constantly in the ears of every one of his teammates. The ceiling for him next year is stepping into Gustavo Ayon's vacated role.

- And last and least, quoth Monty Williams on the NBATV broadcast interview: "We really felt like we had to get Austin Rivers to improve his IQ, and the two best things for that are point guard and coach. But we really don't want him to go into coaching this early."