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Bucks/Cavs: Last chance to impress in Vegas

Time: 3 pm Central

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The funny part about Vegas is how it forces you to adapt the way you watch a game. Yes, you may be a Bucks fan, and there may be guys running around on the court wearing Bucks' practice jerseys. But it's never really about winning so much as getting a first look at young players, over-analyzing everything they do, and then trying to figure out what (if anything) it all means for the future. Winning is great, but you'd much rather lose and have your rookies look great than win because you had the best non-roster free agents in town. And while it may not be "good basketball," it's the closest thing we'll get to real basketball for another three months, which tends to make everything seem a bit more important, particularly as we contemplate the futures of young players getting their first taste of NBA competition.

So what have we learned from  the 2010 edition of the Vegas Bucks? We knew going in that only three players on the roster seemed safe to make the roster--rookies Larry Sanders, Darington Hobson and Tiny Gallon--and Hobson was unfortunately KO'ed from the tournament last week with a groin injury. Darnell Jackson and his unguaranteed contract seemed more of a longshot to make the team, and indeed he's barely played since a nice first game last Monday.  

That pretty much leaves Sanders and Gallon, who get one last chance to impress today against J.J. Hickson, former Buck Jared Reiner, and the rest of the post-LeBron Vegas Cavs. After dominating earlier in the week, Hickson looked fairly disinterested yesterday, which is understandable for a guy already in his third summer league. I'd be a bit surprised if he even suited up today--what does he have to prove?--but then again I wouldn't have expected him to be here in the first place.

I'll be hoping to see a better effort from Sanders, who for better or worse has been fairly consistent with his performances all week. Plenty of energetic, havoc-inducing defense with here and there flashes of offensive skill. He might not be ready for the starting PF spot next to Andrew Bogut, but everything we've seen this week suggests he could immediately make an impact on the defensive end at the 4 or against less imposing centers. It was also encouraging to hear other writers excited about Sanders as I made my way around press row yesterday. 

Aside from John Wall, it doesn't seem like any rookies have really wowed us consistently for the past week. DeMarcus Cousins looked on his way a few days ago, but then looked utterly terrible yesterday against a physical Bulls frontline of Samardo Samuels and Chris Richards and has shot poorly overall. Greg Monroe dropped a great line in his last game (27/14) but had been fairly anonymous up until that point.