With the Kings in Las Vegas
Again: Game 1. Of summer league.
There were worthwhile developments / sightings / impressions, though, that can transcend from a Saturday afternoon against the Raptors of Coleman Collins, Deji Akindele and Hassan Adams into the potentially meaningful.
*The court presence of Sean Singletary, the rookie point guard from Virginia, will almost certainly translate.
He's still 6-0 and he's still the No. 42 pick, a strong gauge that most teams don't expect him to have much of an NBA impact, but the composure and ability to rescue possessions were obvious. That's four years in the Atlantic Coast Conference for you.
Singletary got into the lane with ease Saturday. That won't be as simple vs. the real teams he'll see come November. But even in the instances where he appeared to over-penetrate into tall traffic, he was invariably able to kick the ball out to an open man, even when that King was out of position in a typical summer-league mistake. A drive down the middle that once looked out of control became salvageable because the point guard was in total control.
*Spencer Hawes looked fluid and moved better than most any time that comes to mind from last season.
It's an important development even at this ridiculously early stage because mobility was an issue during the rookie campaign greatly hindered by preseason knee surgery. Hawes joined the lineup Nov. 10 and within two weeks played 20 minutes, but the left leg didn't really regain full strength until at least the All-Star break in mid-February and maybe even well into March. The difference between the Hawes before the operation and the Hawes of the next several months was obvious.
Now, he has swung the other way, back to the noticeably positive. Hawes said he is stronger too. He doesn't look more muscular, and the added bulk will have to come at some stage to avoid 10 years of getting pushed around by heavyweight centers, but said his body fat is way down.
*Third quarter: Jason Thompson grabbed a defensive rebound and looked to deliver the ball to a guard. None came back to meet the pass. So Thompson, 6 foot 11 and 250 pounds of lottery-pick power forward, dribbled past midcourt himself in a jog, and not in that awkward somebody-come-save-me way.
Thompson gave the background himself on draft night, how he was a guard until a late, sudden growth spurt late in high school and early in college jumped him way up in weight class. The Kings obviously had already seen the unique dimension for a big man, and loved it. Saturday was an immediate display for those of us who maybe didn't catch a lot of Rider games on TV.
He may be able to create off the dribble, a rarity for a player of his size and bulk. But Thompson does handle well enough and has enough of a mid-range game to give Reggie Theus some opportunities with so many bigs skilled with the ball. A front line of Brad Miller (center), Hawes (power forward) and Thompson (small forward), anyone?
Miller and Hawes played together on occasion last season anyway and probably would again in 2008-09 if not for the arrival of Thompson and the possible return to health of Shareef Abdur-Rahim. It's hard to imagine a frontcourt that goes 7-0, 7-0, 6-11 won't at least cross Theus' mind, just as a wrinkle. Thompson will get torched by most every small forward he tries to stop, and, in fact, has a long way to go against power forwards, but it would torture defenses for a few minutes.
*The Kings did not play today. The next game is Tuesday night against Portland. Greg Oden, recovering from knee surgery that cost him his highly anticipated rookie season, is being held out until training camp.