PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 11: (L-R) Kris Joseph #32 and Fab Melo #51 of the Syracuse Orange talk as they walk on the court against the Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center on January 11, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Some first impressions from Game 1 of the Orlando Summer League:
Jared Sullinger is proving his doubters wrong. He's a load to handle in the paint (going 7-7 from the free throw line) and his jumper looks good and he can put it on the floor (shooting 6-12), but he needs to continue to lose weight and become more agile laterally. There were several times when he showed hard on a pick-and-roll and backpedaled out of control in recovery. Offensively though, he's a stud. The kid just knows how to play. He's got four months to trim down and knowing how he's played the disrespect card after falling in the draft to #21, we can hopefully expect Sullinger to find meaningful minutes when the season starts.
E'Twaun Moore has an uphill climb. He's the Jeff Green of the summer league team right now: he's good at everything, but not great. If he can find a way back to the Boston bench next season, I doubt he'll be the back up point guard. Unlike Avery Bradley, he's not a game changer. He might be better playing off of Garnett or Rondo, but he's just not cutting it as a point guard. He played a little better when he was allowed to play off the ball and spot up. As a shooting guard, he served as the closer in the waning minutes of the game and hit a dagger three to seal the game. It's only the first game of the summer league, but he's got a lot of work to do.
Consider this JaJuan Johnson's rookie year. It's unfair to expect JJJ to have improved over the last year; with a team loaded with veterans and training camp erased by the lockout, he didn't get a chance to find a groove with the Celtics last season. With that said, let's take some stock with what we have in JaJuan. Despite what Rick Kamla and Dennis Scott said during the broadcast, JJJ has added weight and did well grabbing defensive rebounds. Here's the thing about JuJaun: not unlike his Purdue teammate, they're better right now as complimentary players. JJJ will be able to hit open jumpers with his slow release or run with Rondo on the break, but he's not the kind of player right now that you can throw the ball into deep into a shot clock for him to create his own shot.
Fab Melo is picking up the defense. As Flannery and D'Amico point out, you could hear the Brazilian calling out defensive assignments and anchoring the back line of the defense. I'm sure it's a role he's familiar with having played in Syracuse's vaunted zone, but the true test will be if he can hold his ground 1-on-1 against some of the game's premiere post players.
Kris Joseph will make the team and could contribute. I like this kid's size and pace. He reminds me of The Captain. He's not a freak athlete, but he's got a confident shot and knows his spots.
Sean Williams is a wildcard. He'll fill in nicely in the Ryan Hollins role if Ryan chooses to sign with the Clippers. He's a real active body with some good hops and length, but the basketball IQ isn't there. Early in the second half, he shot an Andrew Bynum three pointer. That kind of shot selection will put you on the bench right away.