At the beginning of the week, avoiding major injuries and seeing even a glimmer of hope from rookies Tyler Hansbrough and A.J. Price along with some decent minutes from Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush would've passed for a successful summer league experience.
Well, all of the above have exceeded expectation and had me raising my eyebrows far more than expected. After the jump, check out what's catching my eye and what's making me nervous, along with some highlights from Orlando.
The young bigs have come up big in every game. Hansbrough and Hibbert have developed a nice little high-low game and appear to have a budding chemistry on the court. McRoberts looked great until getting dinged with an ankle. Hibbert will be collecting on some wagers with teammates about his foul per minute rate since he hasn't even sniffed foul trouble in the first three games.
Hansbrough's been getting to the line like they're playing at the Dean Dome which no one expected. He has this little half fake after his initial pump fake which gets defenders off balance in once that happens he's into them. Whatever works.
Today I was only able to catch a couple of segments of the game but both times A.J. Price was on the court and looked real good. Comfortable is how I'd describe it. He was in the flow of the game and playing his game.
We're still talking summer league, though, so let's keep our expectations in check. The consistent solid play is a good indicator that these young guys have talent that will transfer to the NBA but just when they find success in the league won't be answered quickly.
Earlier this week, I warned against allowing your emotions to sway too far one way or the other based on summer league play. So let this post serve as a little reality check. Believe me, I'm excited about the play I've seen and even more excited about the reaction we've had around here. With Hansbrough bringing plenty of national attention, there's a great buzz building about the young core of this team. That's a great thing. Honestly, on draft night I never thought I'd be tempering expectation about Hansbrough and the Pacers TWO WEEKS LATER.
So enjoy the remaining two games, just remember the context within which we're having all of this summer fun.
Speaking of fun, here are some highlights from Orlando and and interview with Hansbrough and Jim O'Brien after game 1.