Jordan Mclaughlin – Brooklyn: This very cerebral point guard ran the Nets summer league team in a very professional way. As a four-year player at USC, Mclaughlin played with a maturity which was very becoming. His leadership intangibles connected his teammates, and his ability to score when he has to should not be scoffed at. The numbers do not tell the story. He averaged seven points and four assists per game in only 19 minutes of action. It’s the musicality and the ability to allow a random group of players to function properly is where Mclaughlin excels. Given that there were other USC players playing well in the summer league, it’s surprising their team didn’t make more of a splash last season the in NCAA. Nonetheless, Mclaughlin should be able to carve out a nice European career for himself, and perhaps could find an NBA situation down the line, if the timing is right. He seems more like a player who could contribute in the Turkish league – maybe even within the likes of a Pathotonikos or Fenerbahce size club.
Theo Pinson – Brooklyn: This guy is a top-notch person with a well-developed sense of humor and a player who has long ago succumb to the idea that basketball is about connecting to other people. Pinson has, for years, been one of my favorite college players on a team that I don’t particularly like watching, the University North Carolina. His feel for the game is just stunning, and he’s so well versed that he can get away with looking like he’s playing nonchalantly. He is always a step or two ahead of the action. He never gets sped up and is always looking to connect in his crafty ways and, like Mclaughlin, his contributions go far beyond the numbers.
In the Las Vegas summer league, Pinson led the Nets in minutes per game with 25, averaging 11 points and four rebounds and two assists per game. Numbers that won’t set the world on fire. Although Pinson is not a great shooter, he shot the ball nearly 50% from the field in summer league and made enough three-pointers to at least pose the question of whether or not he can shoot it sustainably. I am under the impression that in the right situation and with the right confidence, he is capable of producing far beyond whatever talent-ceiling he has been branded with to this point. He is a winner, who makes winning plays. If I had to compare him to anybody in the league right now, I would say he is a smaller (6’6) and less athletic Andre Iguodala. Pinson is the glue which keeps players communicating and connected. There was something in his energy during the summer league which made me feel as though he may not believe that an NBA opportunity will present itself for him, but I hope it does. He is a player I am unsure of for European basketball. His gifts are better served in an American setting, where his knowledge and feel can more easily exploit weaknesses of IQ and feel in his opponents. I’m not quite sure Europeans will appreciate his intangibles and may look to him to play an outsized scoring or raw data production role. On a very good NBA team, Pinson’s original gifts would be thrust to the forefront, as would a team’s win total.