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Jonny Ball


OK, first things first: There aren't a whole lot of things you can take away from Summer League action.  In a league where Randy Foye and Jerryd Bayless can walk away with MVP honors, and where Anthony Randoph and Rodrigue Beaubois can dominate, you have to take everything with a grain of salt. 

That being said, the league isn't completely useless.  It is a solid forum to view player types and whether or not a guy can play on this level nor not.  On those fronts, Jonny Flynn and Wayne Ellington had decent debuts regardless of what showed up on the stat sheet.  Corey Brewer, on the other hand, may have given Wolves fans reason to squirm in their seats when thinking about how the Wolves are going to fare at the 2/3 this season.  Let's start with the rookies.

The good, bad and ugly was all on full display with Flynn's 7 assist/7 turnover performance. The good was that he has a world-class handle with top-notch quickness which allows him to get to pretty much wherever he wants to go on the floor.  On numerous occasions his defender (often the woefully overmatched Mike Green) was not even close to being able to stay in front of him.  Flynn also displayed a natural ability to run the pick and roll/pop, running several nice plays with Olesky Pecherov and Rob Kurz.  He was also able to keep his dribble deep into the lane and along the baseline--the two places on the court that are the hardest for diminutive points to navigate.  At numerous points in the game, Flynn actively sought out contact in order to better his position (and his teammates' positions) on the court.

The bad and the ugly goes to his sometimes putrid shot selection.  There is no reason on god's green earth why someone with that type of handle and quickness should be taking step-back 20 foot jumpers.  He also played a tad out of control at times, getting picked off the dribble and floating perimeter passes that we a little too casual.  All-in-all, Flynn had a solid debut and it was encouraging to see that a) he belongs at this level and b) that he's the type of guard that can run an offense in both the 1/2 court and in transition. 

Ellington had a no-good-awful-terrible shooting day, going 2-12 from the floor.  Beyond that, he rebounded well, didn't force anything, played solid defense and was surprisingly athletic.  Ellington also displayed some creativity with the ball, getting into the lane on several occasions only to short-arm a few layups.  In terms of attempts, I'd be willing to wage a large amount of money on the chance that if he were to have the same shots in the next game, he'd make over 45% of them.  He didn't force anything and he didn't turn it over while getting good looks and playing solid ball.  On a team that lacks another shooter and is beyond thin at the 2/3, Ellington may have found himself a right-guy/right-time situation.  He should get a ton of good looks this season, especially if Flynn's quickness and handle prove to be legit in regular season action.

Ellington's main competition for the starting 2 at this point in time is Corey Brewer.  Brewer, as we all know, is coming off a terrible knee injury and the game against Houston marked his first 5-on-5 action since going down with the bad ACL.  That being said, and taking into consideration his slow start in last year's Summer League, and knowing full well that Brewer will never be an on-the-ball dynamo, his performance can most charitably be described as underwhelming.  He not only was tentative but he displayed very little of the off-the-ball skills that were evident when he was at his relative best at Florida and during limited stretches with the Wolves.  Here's hoping he can regain some of his confidence and get his pacing under control because the player we saw in today's action did not look like he belonged on an NBA court anymore than someone like Rob Kurz.  That's not to say he doesn't belong at all; rather, that it's not the type of performance you want to see from a lottery pick...even coming off of an injury in a sloppy Summer League game.

Beyond the on-court performances, the game was somewhat notable for the in-game commentary.  Kevin Love joined the announcing team for some always-entertaining Love + open mic entertainment: talking about Twitter and the possibility of using Ricky Rubio for trade bait.  The announcing crew of Joel Meyers and David Aldridge both seemed to be enamored with the possibilities of the Wolves' young roster and their future assets.  While I think that their claims that the Wolves could push .500 are more than a tad over the top they did make several interesting points about the Wolves being in a better position than your average 24 win squad.  They also had an interesting 3rd quarter interview with Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who had some excellent comments about the importance of having a coach who can operate with several different systems a'la Rick Adelman.  Adelman has always been one of my favorite coaches and I am hopeful that his assistant Elston Turner will have a good interview with David Kahn, as system flexibility will be an important factor with a club that figures to see some turnover in the next year or so. 

One final point: The Wolves had an opportunity to run out a 2 point guard lineup with Flynn and Bobby Brown for a few stretches of game action.  While it didn't produce anything you'd really want to write home about, it was interesting for the promise of setting up Flynn in the corner and letting him go 1-on-1 in a way that can collapse the middle of the defense with a defender from the top of the key.  On several possessions, Flynn was able to drive into the heart of the lane while opening up a wide-open jumper for a big man on the perimeter.  In this game it was Brown and Flynn running plays for Kurz and Pecherov.  Hopefully, somewhere down the line we can see it being done with Rubio and Flynn running things for Love and Ryan Gomes

That about does it for this wrap-up.  What did you take away from the game other than that Summer League ball is often brutal?  The Wolves play again at 3pm on Monday against the D-League select team.

Until later.