Bobcats' guard shining in summer leagues
Jason Kapono scored 40 points in five games during the Minnesota Summer League without drilling a single three.
The best thing that ever happened to Jason Kapono was shooting a whopping 47.4 percent from three-point range as a college freshman at UCLA.
However, the worst thing that ever happened to Kapono was shooting 47.4 percent from three-point range as a college freshman at UCLA and he's using this year's Rocky Mountain Revue to fix that.
Ever since teams found out Kapono could shoot the ball, they started chasing him off the three-point line and exposing him on the defensive end. As a result, he shot 45.7 percent from long range as a sophomore, 45.3 percent as a junior and 39.8 percent as a senior.
He ended his college career shooting 44.6 percent from beyond the arc, while becoming the first Bruin to lead his team in scoring four seasons in a row. Kapono left as the school's third all-time leading scorer behind Don McLean and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
All that shooting and all that scoring resulted in only a second-round draft selection.
But then came the knocks all the way from his freshman season at UCLA. Crowd him, chase him, make him play defense. He isn't very athletic. He can't run. He can't jump. If he can't shoot three-pointers, he can't do much at all.
The Cavaliers exposed him in the expansion draft and the talent-hungry Bobcats took a chance on the shooter after earmarking the small forward position for former Sacramento King high flyer Gerald Wallace.
In the Minnesota Summer League, Wallace didn't disappoint. He not only led the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game by attacking the rim time and time again, he also tallied 14 steals, seven blocks and 13 assists in five games.
What he didn't do was hit a three-pointer. In his three seasons in Sacramento, Wallace played 138 games and made only one triple in 13 attempts.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-8 Kapono scored 40 points in five games during the Minnesota Summer League without drilling a single three. In fact, he only took four shots from long range -- that's a three-point attempt every 27.7 minutes, after taking a triple every 9.7 minutes last season.
In the first game of the Rocky Mountain Revue, he scored 10 points without shooting a single three. In the second game, he scored 21 points without a single three. In the third game, he scored 14 without a single three. In the fourth game, he finally took his first three-pointer of the Revue and drilled it. He took another one his way to 14 points in 30 minutes.
So far at the Revuem, Kapono is shooting 25 of 52 for 48 percent. Of course, everybody already knew he could shoot. He's just trying to prove he can also score.
David Bluthenthal, who entered the NBA draft in 2002 and played the last two years for Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel, has become one of the most consistent performers at the Southern California Summer Pro League. After trying to catch on with the Heat and Raptors in previous years, the 6-foot-7 forward out of USC is now playing for the Kings and averaging 19 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field. Bluthenthal is also shooting 46 percent from long range and 89 percent from the free throw line.
After being picked up by the Charlotte Hornets in the expansion draft, little known Primoz Brezec was on track to become the dominant center in his division. Of course, the Miami Heat have since brought Shaquille O'Neal to the Southeast.
Brezec seemed to fit right in after never having averaged more than 2 points, 1.3 rebounds or 0.4 blocks in his three season with Indiana.
O'Neal's presence isn't stopping the 7-foot-1 Slovenian big man from posting better numbers during the summer. Brezec is catching the ball well, immediately rolling to the bucket or squaring up for the jumper and making his shots. Unlike other inexperienced big men, he isn't wasting time trying to figure out what to do with the ball while shorter men swat at it and time their jumps.
In his last two games at the Rocky Mountain Revue, Brezec totaled 40 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots.
With three of the top five picks in the 2004 NBA draft, and a total of six in the first round, being point guards, the debate often centered not on which was the better talent but which player was the most ready for the NBA.
This was amplified when high school phenom Shaun Livingston, unable to bench press 185 pounds even once, was drafted No. 4 by the Clippers while College Player of the Year Jameer Nelson fell to No. 20.
Well, after several summer league tournaments we may not have the definitive answer to that question, but we do have some stats and rankings amongst them.
3. Ben Gordon, Bulls
4. Shaun Livingston, Clippers (yet to play)
5. Devin Harris, Mavericks
13. Sebastian Telfair, Blazers
20. Jameer Nelson, Magic
28. Beno Udrih, Spurs (played only 1 game so far)
1. Harris:18.8 ppg
2. Gordon: 16 ppg
3. Nelson: 15.1 ppg
4. Telfair: 11.7 ppg
1. Nelson: 49 percent (47-96)
2. Gordon: 42 percent (16-38)
3. Telfair: 39 percent (16-41)
4. Harris: 38 percent (50-130)
1. Harris: 6.2 apg
2. Nelson: 5.7 apg
3. Telfair: 5 apg
4. Gordon: 2 apg
1. Telfair: 4 tpg
2. Nelson: 3.2 tpg
3. Harris: 2.7 tpg
4. Gordon: 1.3 tpg
1. Harris: 3.1 spg
2. Nelson: 1.1 spg
3. Telfair: 1.0 spg
4. Gordon: 0.6 spg
1. Harris: 3.8 rpg
2. Nelson: 3.1 rpg
3. Gordon: 2.6 rpg
4. Telfair: 0.5 rpg
1. Harris: 35.8 mpg (8 games)
2. Nelson: 32.6 mpg (8 games)
3. Gordon: 30.6 mpg (3 games)
4. Telfair: 22 mpg (4 games)