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Vegas Summer League: Bargnani Debuts
by Roland Beech, Founder nbatop.com

LAS VEGAS, NV - The NBA season is long, stretching from October preseason games through the June Finals. So, what does any self-respecting NBA follower do in the offseason? Head to the summer leagues of course!

Some people may prefer Utah or Long Beach, but this season the Vegas Summer League seems to feature the prime action since they've hauled in a large number of the top rookies -- Bargnani, Aldridge, Roy, Foye, O'Bryant, Simmons, Armstrong, Douby, Novak, Balkman, Rondo, Collins...

Throw in some promising NBA "veteran" players -- Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Monta Ellis, Ike Diogu, Andris Biedrins, Kevin Martin, Francisco Garcia, Joey Graham, Martell Webster, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Chuck Hayes -- and some cameos from big names (Artest, Stoudemire, Livingston) and you have some high end games lined up!

Thursday, July 6th - Friday, July 14th
Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV, Las Vegas
Tickets: $22 Adults, $12 Kids (All day passes -- up to five games!), free parking

It's a very intimate setting, kind of like seeing a rock band in a local club before they hit the big time, and you can witness future NBA stars in their very first pro efforts sitting mere feet away. So if you're in Las Vegas definitely consider checking out this low key but entertaining event!

The buzz though on day one was the chance to see the #1 pick Andrea Bargnani in action.

Bargnani's touches
Tracking every time Andrea touched the ball helps give some perspective on what from a box score looks like a nice clean shooting night (7-11 fg, 4-4 ft, 20 points)

1st Quarter
Midrange To the Rim! 2 Foul: FT 2-2 Strong drive, draws the foul
Three-Point FGM: 3 pts Open three...swish!
Midrange FGM: 2 pts Open catch+shoot
Three-Point FGA: Miss Contested shot
Three-Point Pass
(no touch) Turnover:
Illegal Screen
Raptors used Bargnani a lot to set screens, but he was frequently moving and seemed awkward
Three-Point Turnover:
Bad pass
Quick pass aimed into the paint
Three-Point FGA: Miss Catch+shoot, open
Three-Point High Paint 2 Away from ball: 3 seconds called
Three-Point Baseline 2 3 Draws Personal Foul
Three-Point High Paint 2 Pass
Three-Point FGM: 3 Pts Quick release, late contested
  Quater Totals: 8:44 playing time, +3 plus/minus, 3-5 FG, 2-2 FT (10 Points), 1 T/O

2nd Quarter
Three-Point At the Rim 2 Foul: FT 2-2 Takes it inside again
Three-Point FGA: Miss Catch+shoot, lightly contested
Corner 3 Paused with the ball, Defensive 3 seconds called
(in paint) Pass: Assist Taps out rebound chance to open player
Three-Point Midrange 2 FGM: 2 Pts Sweet move, fakes, dribbles in to create space, hits jumper
Frontcourt Midrange 3 FGM: 2 Pts Collects loose ball, drives to free throw line, connects
  Quater Totals: 7:11 playing time, +11 plus/minus, 2-3 FG, 2-2 FT (6 Points), 1 'Ast'

3rd Quarter
Three-Point Midrange 2 pass Didn't touch the ball for the first four minutes! Joey Graham, Humphries, Barrett taking control
Corner 3 FGA: Miss Catch+Shoot
  Quater Totals: 5:51 playing time, +1 plus/minus, 0-1 FG

4th Quarter
Corner 3 Pass: "Ast" Potential Assist pass into paint
High Paint Low Paint FGM: 2 Pts On break, catches and without dribble takes it in, scores in traffic
At the Rim FGM: 2 Pts Open Dunk follow up on offensive rebound
Three-Point Midrange 1 Turnover: Travel Called for the walk before he passed
Three-Point Turnover: Travel Traveled before making the move, looking tired
Low Paint Turnover: Travel Got the ball under the rim, moved to other side, shuffled feet
  Quater Totals: 10:54 playing time, -7 plus/minus, 2-2 FG (4 Points), 1 'Ast', 3 Turnovers

So he was much more active in the first half, and whether it was being tired, having the team call less plays for him, or just his teammates controlling the ball in the scrimmage like environment, he seemed to disappear at times in the second. Certainly the comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki are understandable: both have excellent outside shots, and with their height and quick release both pose difficult challenges for their defenders. Like Dirk, Bargnani also can get to the rim from behind the three-point line with two dribbles, and showed some capability of drawing contact. Indeed Andrea was very impressive in the first half with his shots -- they were not just going in, but also going in very clean with a nice soft seeming touch, and good arc/spin. He should be able to have an immediate impact with catch+shoot situations. However, whereas Dirk has become a very strong rebounder, Bargnani showed few signs in this opener of being a factor there at the outset. His screen setting as touched upon was iffy, but it might be too much to expect him to be very smooth in the Raptors offense here with such limited time with the players on this summer league roster. On defense he picked up many fouls (his 5th at 6:08 remaining in the 3rd quarter) and wasn't very active, although he did block a shot, called a jump, and won the ensuing jump ball.

He never posted up, or seldom even got the ball initially in the midrange zones, and will probably over time get more touches from closer in to begin with. His passing was hard to evaluate since he so seldom made a pass.

23 Touches (excluding away from ball events)
13 'Shots' (includes two shooting fouls drawn)
1 Personal Foul drawn
5 Passes, two of which were potential assist types
4 Turnovers

...so a pretty high possession event rate to say the least.

20 touches outside the paint, 8 dribbles, 4 drives into the paint (20%), 2 drives to close range. These are reasonably aggressive numbers, although with the finishing he showed briefly in this game, he might be encouraged to become more of the triple threat (he only once moved into midrange from behind the line and shot, another aspect to his game that may become a positive).

The Verdict: very smooth opening appearance, and has the makings to be great, although the level of competition here is clearly below what he'll see in the regular season. Will need to improve as a rebounder, defender and 'team player' but has potential to justify being the #1 selection.

stream of consciousness comments
- appears to have "strong legs" not like some of the skinny young big men
- why no color uniforms at Summer League? Black/White gets drab fast
- Wizards summer league starters had 6'5 reported as shortest player
- too many fouls...does having the 10 fouls per qtr accentuate this? Are the refs trying to make an impression of their own (yes, as witnessed by a stopping of a fastbreak to reset the shot clock)
- did the Raptors people mind that Bargnani was left out so much in the third quarter? Are they worried about letting him show too much too soon?

Up next: Randy Foye's opening game...

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