Basketball Insiders caught up with a number of Phoenix Suns players at the Las Vegas Summer League. Check out all of the video interviews below:
PODCAST: Recapping Summer League Stars
Joel Brigham and Spencer Davies discuss the best of Las Vegas Summer League, including everything from Lonzo Ball to Dennis Smith, Jr.
Deyonta Davis Looks to Crack the Rotation
Deyonta Davis could be in position to break out in his second year, writes David Yapkowitz.
The Memphis Grizzlies have already lost Zach Randolph and Vince Carter to free agency, and Tony Allen might be on the way out, but there may be enough talent left on the roster to remain competitive in an even stronger Western Conference. One player on the team who looks to be a key part of the Grizzlies potential success is Deyonta Davis.
Now entering his second year out of Michigan State, Davis played sparingly as a rookie for a veteran team with playoff aspirations. He appeared in only 36 games while averaging 6.6 minutes per game, 1.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks. Davis is hoping to take what he’s learned from the Grizzlies vets and apply that on the court next season.
“I learned a lot more than I did when I first started playing with Memphis,” Davis told reporters at the Las Vegas Summer League. “Just learning from Marc Gasol, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, they just showed me the way to play.”
Prior to the 2016 NBA Draft, multiple mock drafts had Davis being selected in the first round and he was viewed as being first round talent. He ended slipping to the second round, where he was drafted with the 31st overall pick by the Boston Celtics before being acquired by the Grizzlies in a draft night trade.
Although he may have felt disappointment at the time, he’s used it as an opportunity to get better and showcase his game.
“I wouldn’t call it a disappointment, I just got to show people what I’m made of,” Davis said. “Now I’m just trying to move forward and just play my game.”
Gasol is penciled in as the team’s starting center, with Brandan Wright as his backup. That still leaves a hole at the power forward spot. With Randolph gone to the Sacramento Kings, and the status of restricted free agent JaMychal Green still up in the air, there may be minutes available in the Grizzlies frontcourt.
Davis is more of a center and most minutes he receives will probably be at the five, but he did learn a thing or two from Randolph in terms of playing in the post.
“The way he moves his body in the post, the second effort that he be putting in, all-around game pretty much,” Davis said.
In addition to learning from the Grizzlies veterans, former NBA and NCAA head coach Larry Brown has been in attendance helping the team’s young guys in Las Vegas. Davis was a young child during Brown’s days as head coach of the Detroit Pistons and didn’t really pay much attention to basketball at that point.
But now that he’s able to understand Brown’s importance to the game, he’s welcomed the tutelage from the Hall of Fame coach.
“Now just knowing who he is and looking up on him, and seeing what he was doing in his career, it’s helpful,” Davis said. “They’re really just telling me if it’s a screen, stay up on it, or keep the ball in the post more, or just keep snagging rebounds.”
Through four games in Las Vegas so far, Davis has put up 6.5 points per game on 57.1 percent shooting from the field, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 1 steal in 24.3 minutes of play. In his most recent outing against the Phoenix Suns, he shot 7-for-8 from the field, which included a few mid-range jump shots.
Developing more of an outside jumper is something that might get him more minutes at power forward. His main competition for minutes at that spot figure to be third-year forward Jarell Martin and rookie Ivan Rabb. Martin has not been very impressive in summer league to this point and Rabb has missed the entire summer with an ankle sprain. Davis has been without question the Grizzlies’ most impressive big man this summer.
“I’m just giving Memphis what I got,” Davis said. “Same thing you see during the season. I’m not just gonna space out parts of my game, I’m just trying to give all of it.”
Davis feels like his shot is coming, and the time he spent riding the bench last season is all worth it.
“Just patience, that’s all it is,” Davis said. “Just being smart about playing basketball.”
If the Grizzlies hope to keep pace in the West, Davis is one guy that will help make sure of that.
Forbes Simplifying The Game And Having Fun
Hard work and dedication has led to huge success this summer for Bryn Forbes. Spencer Davies writes.
As the NBA Summer League enters the third round of tournament play in Las Vegas, the San Antonio Spurs hold the eighth overall seed with a 3-1 record. With most eyes focused on Dejounte Murray, as well as rookies Derrick White and Jaron Blossomgame, a different name has been the talk of the town.
Bryn Forbes, a second-year guard who went undrafted one year ago out of Michigan State, is making waves as his skills continue to develop.
Coming out of Salt Lake City as the Utah Summer League’s leading scorer, the 23-year-old has been one of the most consistent offensive threats in July. Averaging 29.3 points per game as the league leader in Las Vegas, has Forbes exceeded his own expectations?
“In some ways, yeah,” Forbes told reporters on Wednesday night. “I just didn’t really know what to expect from myself, but I knew I put in a lot of work, so I expected good things. But I didn’t know how our team was going to be.
“I knew our coaching staff pretty well and what they had been telling me for all summer, the things I need to do out here, but I think once I got to play with the team a little bit I was like, ‘Okay.’ I started to feel it a little more. I love playing with these guys.”
Having only played in 36 games in his rookie year, Forbes has “worked his ass off” over a busy summer to improve his game and earn some more minutes. Predominantly a pure scorer, the 6-foot-3 guard has made it a priority to add more to his repertoire.
“I think that’s the weight room,” Forbes said of his newfound versatility. ”Ball handling. Everything I put in this summer. Conditioning. Everything I put in, I think it’s starting to be able to control it more. Control the things I’m doing more than I was able to years past.”
Being a part of a perennial winning organization such as San Antonio doesn’t hurt his case, either, and Forbes is a big believer that he’s headed down the best path possible.
“I trust our staff and our coaches with my life, so it’s like, whatever they think the right thing is to do, I’mma do exactly that,” he said.
Will Hardy, an assistant alongside Gregg Popovich, is the head coach of the Spurs summer league team. Through seven games between Utah and Las Vegas, he’s already seen Forbes’ confidence growing with each night.
“He’s a very skilled offensive player,” Hardy said. “I’ve said before, it’s not just catch and shoot. He’s got a nice game off the bounce. He’s really good off the ball. He’s tough to guard because he can get in a lot of different ways.
“I think our big guys have done a really nice job of screening for him and getting him free. When he gets it going, everybody’s looking for him.”
Simplifying the game helps a ton when you’re trying to find a flow. When asked about why things have slowed down for him, Forbes agreed with his coach.
“My teammates are doing great too—on the defensive end, on the offensive end, setting picks, rebounding,” he said. “Everything they’re doing is making everything for me a lot easier.”
Three times, once in Utah and twice this past week in Las Vegas, Forbes has eclipsed the 30-point mark. This includes back-to-back games with 35 to lead the Spurs to victory in each. He’s averaged four assists and a little over three rebounds to go along with 1.3 steals per game as well.
As San Antonio continues to move on in the tournament, he doesn’t see much of that changing for him.
“I don’t think there’s a fall-off,” Forbes said. “This is all of the work I’ve been putting in and I think when you put a lot of work in, you get out of it what you get out of it. You get what you give to the game.”
Hardy doesn’t see any signs of slowing down, either.
“He’s continued to stay aggressive and he’s in a good rhythm right now,” he said. “His mindset’s really good on that end.”
Forbes’ dedication off the floor has definitely played a factor in his success, but nothing can substitute being on the hardwood like live action. It’s something he missed dearly before summer league started up, and now he’s got the chance to showcase his talents in front of everybody.
“It was fun just being back out here,” Forbes said. “I hadn’t got to play all summer, five-on-five or anything like that, not even one-on-one. It was just like workouts and lifting and all different types of stuff. It’s just fun to be back out playing.”
It’s been a pleasure to watch, Bryn.