This is a young man in need of a nickname. Is it possible to call him The Duke (as in Ellington)? Yesterday during introductions, the PA guy tried saying he was from Duke. Look at that giddy look on Gerald Henderson's face. You know he enjoyed. it.
Yesterday the Wolves Summer League team lost to the D-League select team 96-91. During the first half Our Beloved Puppies actually looked like a functional SL team, with Jonny Flynn and Wayne Ellington displaying the types of games that will get fans excited about the regular season no matter how meaningless the summer action is. Flynn was solid on the ball while showing a knack for pick and roll and Ellington, after a couple of minutes looking like he was thinking too damn hard about his shot, hit an easy layup and a couple of free throws before getting in rhythm and knocking down 8 of his 14 shots for the game (4-7 from 3).
Flynn was especially impressive throughout the game. On one occasion early in the game he was trailing on a transition opportunity and caught the ball with an opportunity to hit a wide-open 3. He paused, let the defense react to him, and then kicked it across the court to a wide open Olesky Pecherov who drained the 3 himself. A few plays later, Flynn had a similar opportunity with Pecherov open on the opposite wing and instead of making the cross court pass (which the defense was in a bit better position to react to) he called Pecherov over for a pick. As soon as he saw some lax defense on the screen, he split the defenders, got into the lane, sought out contact and picked up the and-1. Flynn ended the game with 4-9 shooting, 5 trips to the line, 14 assists and 6 turnovers. He easily could have had 16-18 assists had some of his passes been directed at someone more along the lines of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love rather than the guy without a name on his jersey and big Garett Siler.
Ellington continued to show a bit more craftiness than expected with the ball in his hands. He's not completely devoid of being able to put the ball on the deck while out on the perimeter and while he will likely never be able to get to the line with any sort of frequency, his athleticism and handle have been able to get him into the heart of the defense far more than I expected from a guy I thought of primarily as a long-range jump shooter. Flynn and Ellington displayed some chemistry out there against the D-League team and while we can't really read a whole lot into it, here's hoping it is something that they can build on throughout the year. They really look like a natural pairing at the 1/2. How funny would it be if the Wolves found their 2 guard combo with Flynn and Ellington rather than Flynn and Ricky Rubio?
Speaking of Rubio, there were numerous reports that his agent Dan Fegan met with David Kahn in Vegas to discuss the situation. One item mentioned that an NBA Deputy Commissioner was at the proceedings. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, will come out of this.
Getting back to the game, once again we were treated to another questionable performance from Corey Brewer. Was it better than his first outing? Yes. However, the improvement between game 1 to game 2, despite the injury, is a fairly solid analogy to the difference between Brewer's first and second years with the club. His first year was soooooooo putrid that it was pretty hard not to come out not smelling like roses even with a modest improvement in year 2. Here's the problem with Brew: He's going to be a perimeter player. No matter how quick of a pace the Wolves are going to play at, and no matter how much time he spends off the ball (which should be a lot), he still needs to a) be able to handle the rock when it comes his way and b) hit the corner 3. He looks like a serviceable player moving at 100 mph and in transition but in the 1/2 court setting, he belonged on the other team yesterday. I get that this is Summer League and he's coming back from an injury but that should have nothing to do with his complete inability to handle the damn ball. You can't have a 2 guard without even a modest handle. This is the last I'll write about Brewer during the SL because I do agree with the notion that if he is going to be an effective player it will be through effort, rebounding, transition play and, most importantly, defense. I also subscribe to the idea that he's something of a glue guy and he's one of those players that thrives while doing the cliched "little things". I'm holding out hope that he can get back to his relative form before the beginning of the season and we can finally see what he can do at a higher level. Perhaps he's just one of those guys that is dependent on the level of his competition. However, and with all of that being said, he has to be somewhat effective in the situations where the ball does come his way in the 1/2 court and that isn't looking too promising at the moment...injury or not. And that is something to be worried about.
Unfortunately, the most disappointing story of the day was the end of any hope or thought that Ben Woodside had a shot at this level. As a 24 year old point with zero size and athleticism I was really hoping that at the very least his offensive shiftiness would translate just a little to the SL setting. It didn't. On top of that, his defense was beyond exposed. The guy was a college monster but at the end of the day he'll end up being more Eric Crouch than Peyton Manning. Here's hoping he gets a shot in Europe.
Well, that about does it for this wrap-up. Remember that Wyn will be covering the remaining games from Vegas so if there is anything that you would like us to follow up on or cover, please leave a message in the comments or shoot one of us a line.