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Bucks vs. Cavs Summer League Thoughts and Tidbits

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There’s plenty of meh to go around!

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty as Milwaukee fell to the Cavaliers in their first Summer League game, but we tried to pull something from today’s performance. Here are some thoughts and tidbits:

  • Reggie Upshaw started the game alongside Gary Payton II, Vaughn, Maker and Wilson.
  • Rashad Vaughn had his shot blocked to start the game. It felt very, very Vaughn. Vaughn’s second shot then was blocked as well. Some things never change.
  • Wilson looked a little herky-jerky going off the dribble to start, but was able to recover and hit a nice shot. A few possessions later, he stayed with one of the Cavs’ guards on a drive and helped combine with Thon for a block. It was a nice display of shifty defensive feet that the Bucks have to hope will translate.
  • Gary Payton II started his game off with a steal on an inbounds and a dunk, basically relaying the skills he’s supposed to have. He then airballed a three a few plays later, once more illustrating the skills he’s supposed to have.
  • Rashad Vaughn dunked the ball at one point!
  • D.J. Wilson may’ve been able to pull up for his shot several times, but he also didn’t quite have the quickness to get past the lackluster Cavs forwards that were guarding him. It would’ve been optimistic to see him blow by someone for a dunk, but settling for jumpers won’t exactly be a key for his success, particularly the in-between ones he was looking for tonight.
  • Sterling Brown played in today’s game despite reports that he wouldn’t play until a contract was in place. Perhaps that mean the contract was ironed out this morning then, or they decided to let him play anyway. He looked physically ready to body up against guards, and had a nose for snagging rebounds, but was largely absent from the proceedings.
  • Thon Maker picked up right where his summer league fouling propensity left off last year. He had three fouls before the first quarter even concluded and ended with six overall.
  • Gary Payton II had a nice pass off a pick-and-roll to Wilson on his plunge to the hoop, which is exactly what Wilson is supposed to be adding to this team this season.
  • Bronson Koenig looked like he lacked the speed to get past most guards, which isn’t unexpected, but he also did a fine job stopping on a dime in transition to open a passing lane and find Thon Maker right beneath the hoop to draw a foul. Otherwise he looked largely pedestrian, and his shot from deep was quite off the mark.
  • Wilson’s lack of strength was pretty noticeable, from a crazy dunk attempt over him to failing to block out a put-back at the end of the first half. His defensive rebounding, finishing and ability to deter shots at the rim will be obvious problems until he bulks up.
  • Thon got bodied out by Edy Tavares to start the second half, sealed away from the rim for an easy trip to the free throw line. He’s clearly bulkier, but there’s plenty more food (and muscle) to pack on those limbs going forward.
  • Gary Payton II was a terror up front defensively, absolutely harassing the Cavaliers backcourt into some pretty poor steals and looking like an annoying pest at the top of some 1-3-1 zone. Travis Trice got in on the action too with several steals in the third quarter during their massive run to at least make it a game for a few minutes.
  • Gary Payton II probably played the best game for Milwaukee, garnering plenty of steals and looking rather calm operating out of the pick-and-roll and finding Bucks in opportunistic spots with his passing.
  • Thon’s entire performance has to be pretty disappointing for fans who left the season quite optimistic about his opportunity for improvement. He was beaten down and battered under the hoop too many times by the massive Edy Tavares, his rebounding looked weak, he didn’t hit too many shots and his fouling issues returned. Let’s cross our fingers for something better come Sunday.
  • Rashad Vaughn finished with 12 points, with most of that inexplicably coming on finishes at the rim. The fact he can’t even show one bit of domination in his third SL is pretty embarrassing though, and it’s feeling a lot more difficult to consider him ever becoming even a serviceable NBA player.

Jason Kidd joined the broadcast booth for a bit, here are a few notable items from the conversation:

  • Kidd mentioned that they’re hoping for a February return from Jabari, which is about in line with what we presumed.
  • Kidd also mentioned that there hasn’t been a decision made on whether Giannis will play for Greece in Eurobasket this year.
  • Kidd discussed Thon’s dribbling ability, and how he clearly wants to handle the ball more. He even discussed letting him handle the ball like Giannis once he starts to rebound the ball. All of this is to say I really don’t think Thon should be handling the ball almost ever in that regard, but I’m happy to watch him try to stretch his game in this meaningless setting. I’m chalking it up to having a coach placate a young player in hopes of encouraging growth.