Roberto Nelson hits an unbelievable game winning three to send the Hornets through to the quarter finals.
21 MIN – 13 PTS (FG 6-6 FT 1-4) – 5 REB – 1 AST – 6 PF – 1 STL – 3TO – 0 BLK
Zeller was plagued by foul trouble throughout the game and eventually fouled out after playing just 21 minutes. I know what you’re thinking “You can’t foul out of summer league?” Once you get into the knock out stages you can, this was bad news for Cody. Overall this was another slightly disappointing performance from Zeller, who should be working hard to make a statement for that starting power forward spot. To see Zeller struggling so much with fouling in the summer league is certainly a worry, how will he manage playing bigger minutes against more talented, stronger players?
Zeller did however show some new things on the offensive end, including two nice isolation plays. The first, Zeller faced up and drove past Bernard James finishing with a nice left handed reverse layup. The second, Zeller faked the drive and pulled up for a jumper which smoothly swished the net. Zeller also showed some great hands, he caught a couple of inside drop off passes and was able to elevate quickly and finish at the rim. There were still times when Zeller looked out of control and was called for a charge, he must improve his body control and decision making as this is becoming a regular occurrence.
Defensively Zeller was up and down. His pick and roll defense was particularly good, he managed to contain the guard, block off the paint and on one occasion managed to steal the ball off the opposing point guard and start the fast break. However, in the post Zeller got pushed around by the Mavericks bigs, particularly 240lb Bernard James. This is where Zeller was called for a lot of his fouls, he was simply out muscled and overpowered. I know some people think Zeller lacks perimeter skills and should play center similar to his Indiana days , but until he improves his core strength this isn’t a long term option.
29 MIN – 14 PTS (FG 4-11 3PFG 0-1 FT 6-8) – 10 REB – 0 AST – 5 PF – 0 STL -3 TO – 2BLK
Vonleh arguably had his best game of summer league, showing the ability to be effective on both ends of the floor. I am still amazed by Vonleh’s footwork down in the post, he regularly gets his defender out of position but has struggled to finish thus far, I am sure that will come. Due to his speed, body control and length Vonleh has successfully got to the line with a number of his post ups inlcuding had two impressive “And 1” plays. Voneh’s offensive talents were on full show against the Mavericks, he made a nice 20ft jump shot and took his man off the dribble showing his ever more impressive ball handling abilities. The shooting percentage isn’t quite there yet, but we have seen all the skills that made him such an intriguing prospect.
Defensively Vonleh had his best game by far in my opinion. Vonleh had an impressive weakside block on Rick Ledo, he also wrapped up Ivan Johnson and wrongly got called for the foul, these were both strong defensive plays. The Mavericks frontline of Bernard James and Ivan Johnson are about as big and experienced as they get in summer league. However, Vonleh held his ground particularly well against Johnson, he did a good job of not fouling and forcing Johnson to pass it out the post. Vonleh still had five fouls, but most were from him trying to protect the paint. These are not as worrying as being whistled for overplaying due to getting out muscled or being out of position. Like all rookies I expect Vonleh to be up and down during the season, he has already shown traits of inconsistency during this summer league.
32 MIN – 18 PTS (FG 4-18 3PFG 2-7 FT 8-9) 5 REB – 1AST – 5 PF – 2STL – 4 TO -0 BLK
Yes, PJ is shooting a horrendous 27% from the field so far during summer league, but there are positives to be taken. Firstly, PJ is averaging seven free throws per game, he’s shown he won’t just settle for jumpers and has done a good job getting into the lane and using his strong frame to draw contact. When Hairston isn’t getting fouled, he’s used a nice looking floater to finish. On a number of occasions in this game Hairston posted up the opposing team’s guard again in this game. Similar to the last game, PJ drew a couple of fouls and successfully got to the line with these post ups.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of PJ’s game has been his passing and vision. Hairston ran some nice pick and roll plays with Zeller. Even though he had just one assist, he willingly looked to pass the ball more than in previous games. There was one particular play where PJ had a shot, but passed it to Roberto Nelson who had an even better shot. It is these kind of unselfish plays Steve Clifford will be looking Hairston to make more of going forward.
Hairston should also get some credit for his defense on the Mavericks leading scorer Ricky Ledo. In his previous three games Ledo had scored 18, 21 & 14 points, PJ held him to just nine. Although Hairston wasn’t on Ledo all game and Ledo did miss some open shots, he deserves some credit nonetheless. Looking at the box score you might think Hairston was chucking up bad shots, but he actually had his best game in terms of shot selection. There were probably 2-3 bad choices in there, but the rest were good shots which unfortunately didn’t go down. Overall, Hairston came in pegged as a “shooter”, but has really struggled on that end. However, fans should be optimistic that PJ has found other ways to score and have a positive effect on the game.