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Bucks vs. Suns Summer League Analysis: Uneven nights for Jabari, Giannis

Parker took a step back in his second game, but Antetokounmpo showed more positives.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucks fell to 0-2 in Las Vegas on Sunday night, dropping a back-and-forth contest against the Phoenix Suns by the final score of 93-82. All the hallmarks of Summer League play were there: frantic pace, sloppy offense, lots of one-on-one battles. The story remained mostly the same for Milwaukee, which turned the ball over 16 times and hit 33% of its three-point attempts. Meanwhile the Suns drained 11 triples and almost doubled Milwaukee's assist total. It's largely pointless worrying about team performance in SL, especially for a team with as little talent at guard as the Bucks' Vegas squad. It is what it is. So we turn our attention to the trio of notable individuals on the roster: Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nate Wolters. Here's a quick roundup of reactions and analysis to their second game of the Summer session.

Las Vegas Summer League, Day 3 grades - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN

Jabari Parker | Grade: D
Dreadful shot selection, bad decision-making, mental lapses defensively and selfish play marred Parker’s night, as he seemed uncomfortable with the idea of letting anyone else make a play with the ball. There’s pretty much no reason for someone with Parker’s speed and strength to draw just one shooting foul, especially against this level of competition. This was a troubling performance for the second overall pick.

Giannis Antetokounmpo | Grade: B
A timed pump-and-go from the 3-point line to the rim should be the NBA’s version of the 40-yard dash. It sounds obvious, but it really is absurd how much ground he can cover in just a few short steps. Defensively, open shots become contested, and once he’s by you with his first step? He’s by you. There were mistakes and blown finishes, but he’s getting where he wants to be on the floor seemingly at will.

Each of those blurbs might be a bit of overreaction in opposite directions, most notably the phrase "troubling performance." It was the second game of Summer League! It's hard to view anything as troubling short of Giannis putting the ball on the floor and trying to kick it through the bottom of the hoop.

But the points are still valid, and Parker's performance definitely made him look every bit a go-to scorer with a lot of adjusting left to do. It's just not troubling because of course he was going to have to adjust and he's got plenty of time to do it. I'm sure there are plenty of folks who would praise him for continuing to be aggressive despite the shooting struggles, even if the aggression was misapplied.

As for Giannis, the last line is what really jumped out to me, and it's really encouraging to see. Giannis spent a lot of his court time last season just running around wildly with no apparent plan, contributing mostly though a combination of luck and physical ability. His mind and body seemed to get their wires crossed at times as he'd try to make a play that wasn't there. Last night, Giannis absolutely knew what he was trying to do, even if he couldn't always pull it off. He set defenders up with pump fakes a handful of times, and when defenders bite, it's almost alarming how quickly he can get to the rim.

Giannis seems to have one more level of development to go before he can be a true half-court scoring threat.

Still, as exciting as that development was to watch, it's pointless if Giannis can't finish those plays with actual made baskets. Often times he seemed to rely on his length around the hoop more than he can get away with (which is saying something). There were layups that came up just short or came off the glass a bit too hard, as though his body and arms just weren't quite where he expected they'd be as ball left his hand. Finishing ability isn't something we can really evaluate from a single game or two (and in fairness, Miles Plumlee was an imposing presence around the rim), but Giannis seems to have one more level of development to go before he can be a true half-court scoring threat. His ballhandling is making great progress, he's figuring out how to set up and shake defenders--now he just needs to string it all together and tie it off with a made basket.

Summer Suns 93 – Summer Bucks 82: Parker the power forward | Bucksketball
Jeremy goes more in depth on Jabari Parker and his outlook as an NBA power forward, and right now the outlook is good:

His post game seems very strong. In two games I’ve seen him demonstrate more assertiveness in the post with more speed than any of the Bucks big men. I know John Henson has shown a lot of finesse and touch with his left hand in the past two seasons, but it typically takes him a few seconds to really get his move going. And after that, everyone knows he’s always going left. Parker was showing off some fakes and decisiveness en route to quick attacks often when he was catching with his back to the basket.

Parker’s play in the pick and roll game with Nate Wolters was another bright spot. They only ran a handful together, but in most cases the Suns defenders were very cognizant of Parker, which opened up a little bit of space for Nate. In the one situation that Suns defenders ambushed Wolters and attempted a trap as he dribbled away from Parker, he did a great job of finding Parker in the paint. A rotating Suns defender got to Parker quickly and forced a turnover, but the recognition by Wolters was impressive.

And here's a pair of quick links to post-game reaction from the players themselves and general LVSL Day 3 analysis from SB Nation's Suns blog, Bright Side of the Sun.