Let the dog days of summer commence.
The Bucks ran out of gas in the second half of their Vegas Summer League finale against the Houston Rockets on Friday, and that feels like a fitting summary of their week as well. After an opening night win last Friday, the Bucks dropped four straight in very Vegas fashion, as Thon Maker, Rashad Vaughn and Malcolm Brogdon mostly bricked their way through the remainder of their schedule. Not that the losing really matters, or for that matter any of this really matters, but it's the only NBA-ish basketball we're going to get until October, so at least it's something, eh?
The Bucks' trio of roster guys struggled from the field again on Friday, combining to shoot 10/37 from the field before a late surge from the bench (namely sharp-shooting everyman Steve Sir) helped the Bucks make it close in the final minute. On the plus side, Maker hit 2/3 from deep to finish with 12 points and nine rebounds, but he also missed six of his seven shots inside the paint including a bunch of rather forced jumpers.
An early and inadvertent shot from Maker to Montrezl Harrell's face also seemed to spark something in the former Lousiville bruiser, who appeared intent on attacking Maker at every turn thereafter. When he wasn't chucking up threes (1/5), Harrell was bullying Maker and the Bucks inside, hitting 8/10 from two-point range to finish with a game-high 20 points, eight boards and four assists. While the results weren't ideal, Harrell certainly provided a good physical test for the skinnier Maker, offering a sneak peek at the kind of physicality he's likely to face later this fall.
Meanwhile, Vaughn and Brogdon remained consistent in their inconsistency: Brogdon once again struggled from the field (2/12, 1/5 threes) while looking composed on the ball, dishing out five more assists and committing only one turnover to finish with a 22-3 ratio for the week. He will play this season, though I'm not sure if he'll be able to shoot. Speaking of which, Vaughn missed 10 of his 15 attempts en route to 13 points, though a second half drive and dunk out of a halfcourt set flashed the kind of explosion that we've seen far too little of over the past year. I'm not expecting it to become a regular occurrence, but it's the summer and optimism is free, right?
RASHAD VAUGHN CAN DUNK. pic.twitter.com/MNsqDENNLI— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) July 15, 2016
Next up for the Bucks: Brogdon and Jabari Parker (also in the house today) will take part in the Team USA minicamp this week in Vegas, while Maker, Vaughn and company have a couple months to work on their game and their bodies back in Milwaukee.
Other thoughts from Vegas:
Thon. I'm really not sure how good Thon will be, but I definitely feel better about him despite a very up-and-down week. His averages of 14.2 points and 9.6 rebounds offer some nice reassurance that yes, he can play basketball, even if his horrendous shot selection and 39% shooting from the field were all extremely Vegas. I have to imagine he'll be far more judicious once the regular season rolls around, though his 6/19 shooting from three (31.5%) suggests that he does indeed have some perimeter touch. Note that a couple of those were also step-back threes that you'd never want to see in a real game, and he figures to get much better looks when defenses are focusing on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker instead of him. Could he provide some pick-and-pop value as soon as this season? We'll see.
Brogdon with the ball. His inability to get a shot over the rim was hardly encouraging -- he was 4/27 from the field over the last two games -- but Brogdon's 22 assists and three turnovers this week suggest that he's hardly out of his depth as a primary ballhandler. He'll need to hit open threes in order to become a good NBA player, but he at least has a chance.
King James. It's generally safe to assume non-roster guys have no chance of making the Bucks roster -- if memory serves me correctly, they've never brought a summer league guy into the regular season during John Hammond's tenure -- but Ra'Shad James was probably the most interesting guy among the free agent types playing on the summer Bucks. He scored 19 on 12 shots today and -- despite standing just over 6'1" -- threw down a number of monster dunks this week.
MALCOLM BROGDON DROPPIN DIMES DROPPIN DIMES. pic.twitter.com/sp85a5TNst— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) July 15, 2016
Dekker. Former Badger Sam Dekker looked great today, hitting 5/7 threes en route to 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists to cap off a nice week. It's easy to forget about him after he missed all of last season with injuries, but hopefully he gets a chance to win some minutes under Mike D'Antoni.
In case you missed it, Eric Nehm and I talked about Thon, Malcolm and Rashad in a couple of podcasts the last two days: