The first weekend of the Las Vegas Summer League is now in the books. What's more (for me, anyway), it was the first time I was there to take in the festivities in person. As one of the stronger, more settled teams in the tournament, the Raptors wrapped up the weekend with a strong 2-0 record, both lopsided wins. But they weren't the only game in town.
Here's what went on in and around the Summer League games I saw over the past three days:
- Let's start with the facility: the Thomas & Mack Centre and the adjacent Cox Pavilion offer up a quaint atmosphere for the entire Summer League experience. I was actually surprised to see how many people were there most afternoons -- peaking with the insane crowd for Saturday's Sixers/Lakers showdown.
- Oh yeah, I would be remiss in not mentioning that is very hot outside all the time, and very cold inside all the time.
- Raptors nerd out moment: Got to watch the second half of the Cavs/Bucks game with Chuck Swirsky, who audibly groaned at some of the play-making decisions in the game. He was looking ahead to his return to Chicago to welcome the newly signed Dwyane Wade -- a circumstance to which he added no comment.
- Michael Beasley looked to be enjoying his time, taking funny selfies with fans. This, after he'd played in a game with the Houston Rockets.
- The Hawks' Wilson Tavares' huge hands flail about as if independent from his body.
- Then, the first Raptors game! (20 minutes later: This was not much of a game. Final Score: 88-47 for Toronto.)
- Post-game: newest Raptor Jakob Poeltl joked that Delon Wright was smiling now not just because he had gotten his braces off but "maybe it's just 'cause I'm here."
- Jerome Williams, the Junkyard Dog was on hand to give out high-fives, hugs and fist-bumps as needed.
- At some point between the first half and the end of the Raptors game, assistant coach Jamaal Magloire (whose voice can never not be heard bellowing across the floor) needed to tape up and ice his elbow.
- Bebe sighting! He was there to take in the action, joking that he needed the energy-infusion after the relaxation inherent to a honeymoon vacation. His wife looked, uh, impressed with this assessment. He was also wearing a Balotelli Italy jersey. I asked him if he was a fan of the Azzurri and he was quick with a no, and then pointed to the name on the back. So he's a Mario fan. This feels right.
- Jama Mahlalela is the exact type of coach you'd want for a Summer League atmosphere. He's energy level is up, he's an extremely upbeat guy, and he never lets up with the encouraging and concise bits of analysis. And this was just from a five minute conversation. It's impossible not to like the guy.
- The Raptors played an early scrimmage against the Bucks on Saturday. The Raptors six "developing" players were there with all but Siakam getting in some play. (Siakam sat out with a knee sprain.)
- DeMarre Carroll was on a separate court working out with the Raptors' Director of Sports Science Alex McKechnie. Good to see.
- The game was whatever, but Lucas Nogueira was around and in fine form. Here he is interviewing new teammate Pascal (with Bruno stepping in to record him):
LOOK INTO THE FUTURE pic.twitter.com/ocODX7QwOK— Daniel Reynolds (@aka_Reynolds) July 9, 2016
- By the way, Siakam knows about Vince Carter.
- Former Raptor Ed Davis was on hand to take in the Blazers/Suns game on Saturday afternoon. The lady checking tickets was not going to let him past without a pass in hand. He looked unimpressed.
- That Blazers/Suns game also had my only recorded instance of a near fight. And it produced the awesome visual of baby-faced Devin Booker trash-talking the hell out of his opponent.
- The Saturday night main event was undoubtedly the aforementioned Lakers vs. Sixers or Ingram vs. Simmons matchup. For his part Ingram looked very much like an extremely skinny yet talented prospect. Meanwhile Simmons evinced a preternatural feel and vision for the game, lacing some beauty passes to his questionably skilled teammates. I mean, he can't shoot yet, but you can't teach that kind of talent.
Ingram in the mix. pic.twitter.com/MQ4Qsh9aaH— Daniel Reynolds (@aka_Reynolds) July 10, 2016
- Can confirm: the Warriors' Mamadou Ndiaye is a giant human.
- A second Raptors game! This time it was far more competitive with Norm Powell putting on something of a show and ruining the Wolves's Kris Dunn's day. Highlight: Powell told coach Jama Mahlelala, "don't worry coach, I got you."
- Unfortunately Siakam did not play in the game and is in fact going to Ottawa to get his Visa sorted out. This is still funny to me: Siakam has never been to Canada yet. He asked me how Ottawa was and I had to let him down easy -- it's a, uh, sleepy town. I assured him Toronto is much better.
An important thing to keep in mind while at Summer League: you can't see it all. Like a good film festival, the action is going on simultaneously in different places all day long. All you can hope to do is to pick a few things, live in the moment and enjoy.