Tag Archives: NBA Summer League

A Tale of Redemption for Tony Mitchell

Tony Mitchell Courtesy NBASerbia.com

Tony Mitchell had a dream season in 2012-13 as a rookie, earning the D League Rookie of the Year Award and helping the Mad Ants reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Courtesy NBASerbia.com

By Alec Johnson

Mad Ants’ forward Tony Mitchell had a rookie season for the ages. He was named NBA D-League Rookie of the Year, won three D-League Player of the Week Awards, a D-League Player of the Month Award for March, and All D-League First Team Honors and All D-League Rookie First Team Honors. Plus, he helped the Mad Ants reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history with a 27-23 record. He also averaged 21.9 points/game during the season, and put up two 40+ point performances.  One of them sent a game against the Austin Toros into triple overtime. Mitchell also had a stretch of nine games in which he scored over 20 points from Feb. 22-Mar. 15.

Mitchell’s efforts earned him a spot on the Boston Celtics’ Orlando Summer League roster. He excelled, averaging 11.2 points per game and putting up 14, 15, and 16 point performances during his time there. He also spent time on the New York Knicks’ Las Vegas NBA Summer League roster, but he didn’t get as much playing time as he did in Orlando. Overall, having gotten the opportunity to compete in both Summer Leagues and having a shot at playing on an NBA team shows how far along he has come in his development.

However, life wasn’t always this good for Mitchell. In his days at the University of Alabama,  he was suspended indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team” during his junior season, and he did not get to come back for his senior season. Instead, Mitchell tried to get into the NBA Draft, and failed. After going to play with the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team, Mitchell signed on as a free agent, but was cut a month later, and then found the Mad Ants through Keith Smart, the former Indiana University basketball player who coached the Kings at the time. Smart reached out to Coach Duane Ticknor, who ended up taking Mitchell in, according to an article from AL.com, the website of the Birmingham News in Birmingham, Alabama.

Assistant Coach Steve Gansey remembers the first time he saw Tony Mitchell when he came to the Mad Ants in November 2012, and saw that Mitchell had the body and athleticism to be an NBA player, but he wasn’t on an NBA roster, and that confused him.

“I figured he had all the intangibles, all the things that NBA teams look for,” Gansey said. “When he got into the player pool (for the D League), I knew exactly who he was and (I) liked him. I asked Rob Kurz, (a former Mad Ants player who played with Mitchell on the Kings Summer League team) a couple questions regarding him, and he said he’d a be great player in the D League, and he has the athleticism, everything that I saw, and I asked him ‘what his personality was like?’, ‘was he coachable?’, ‘was he a good teammate?’, and all those things, and he said, ‘Yes’.” It was kind of an easy decision on our part, with Jeff, Duane (Ticknor), and I, and we wanted to bring him in.”

It wasn’t easy between all of them at first, Gansey noted, when Mitchell first arrived in Fort Wayne.

“At first, it’s not that he struggled. He was just getting used to how he played and (he was) getting a feel for his teammates, coaches, everything like that, and for any player to jump onto a team who’s already been playing games and already had practices and all that…. It’s tough for anybody,” Gansey said.

“It took probably a month for him to gain everybody’s trust, players and coaches, and even Jeff Potter, front office. After that, he got in better shape and knew exactly what we wanted from him every day, every game and practice and all that, and played very well for us, and won us a lot of games,” he said.

Gansey said that he did know about Mitchell’s previous history at Alabama, and had made calls to people who knew Tony, and they told him that it wasn’t drastic or a huge problem.

“Guys deserve second chances, too. You can’t get along with everybody, and everything can’t be perfect in the world, so we wanted to give Tony an opportunity and a chance, and it ended up working in our favor,” Gansey said.

Mitchell ended up making a lot of progress from the time he first got to the Mad Ants to the end of the season, and Gansey attributed that to one word: confidence.

“Every week, he got more confidence in his play, in his jump shot. He got more confidence in his teammates, and in his coaches, also,” Gansey said.

It wasn’t easy, he said, as he, Tick, and Gansey got into it a few times, but Gansey says it was always positive.

“I took Tony out and just wanted to give him a breather, because we wanted him to finish the game for us, and he wanted to stay in. It was little arguments like that where, ‘Listen, I know you can play 48 minutes a game, but we want you to finish and give it your all towards the end of the game rather than right now,” Gansey said.

“It was tough for him to understand that throughout the year, but at the end of the year, he got us, we understood him.”

His conditioning also improved throughout the year, Gansey said as another reason for Mitchell’s success.

“He always stayed after and practiced. I took him a couple times, well, many times after practice, and worked with him and did some individual stuff, and did some specific things on the court where he gets the ball during games,” Gansey said. “We wanted to make those things more accurate.”

In terms of Summer League play, Gansey said that he saw an NBA-caliber player when he played in Boston, and in Las Vegas, he didn’t get as much playing time. He told Mitchell to make the most of the time he got to play, whether for the whole game or only two minutes.

The assistant coach also talked about the things he got to see at the Summer League.

“He has the body, he has the athleticism. He didn’t shoot the ball very well in Orlando, but he played with those NBA guys. That’s the reason why they have Summer League. There’s players that play with these teams that are with those NBA teams and you get to see certain matchups, you get to see rookies, you get to see their draft picks go against guys like Tony Mitchell, and guys like Ron Howard, and see how they match up,” Gansey said.

MItchell’s defense has been a concern for Gansey and the coaching staff, as he struggles with the concept of team defense, knowing his spot on the floor and having the trust in his teammates to fulfill their role. He does feel, however, that it has improved.

“He showed what he can do on the defensive end in Orlando and Vegas,” Gansey said. “It’s tough to get certain philosophies down when you’re in Vegas Summer League with defense because you have such a short little amount of time. I felt he did very well on the defensive end. He was engaged, he was in the defensive stance.”

“From what I watched, and because of his athleticism, it makes up more if he does get driven by or if he does gamble on a pass, his athleticism can make up for it. A lot of NBA players can’t say that for themselves. That definitely helps Tony in that regard.”

As for joining the Celtics, Gansey believes Tony has a shot with them because they are looking for younger guys to help rebuild their team. He also says that people know that he’s good from watching him in the D League, and they know he can get better.

“The Boston Celtics are looking to rebuild, and looking for younger guys who they can build up, and potentially have a future with, and I think Tony is one of those guys who can help an NBA basketball team,” Gansey said.

When November rolls around, we’ll know for sure whether Tony Mitchell is in the NBA, or still with the Mad Ants. Regardless of where he ends up, Mitchell has seemed to turn the corner, and his future looks to be a bright one.

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Recap of the first two rounds of the Las Vegas Summer League tournament

By Alec Johnson

The first two rounds of the Las Vegas Summer League tournament are in the books, and surprisingly, the D-League Select Team hasn’t lost a game yet. Here’s how all the teams with Mad Ant players did on Wednesday and Thursday:

Wednesday 

  • Minnesota T-Wolves (Demetri McCamey) 92, Sacramento Kings 54

In this contest, the T-Wolves destroyed the Kings by forcing turnovers and getting rebounds, outrebounding the Kings 44-30. They also were led by a 17-pt performance from Shabazz Muhammad and a 15-pt performance from Demetri McCamey, who had 13 of those points in the first half to lead all scorers, according to the NBA.com recap. They moved on to face the NBA D-League Select Team on Thursday.

  • Dallas Mavericks 95, Los Angeles Clippers (Vernon Macklin, JaJuan Johnson) 89

The LA Clippers had a 20-10 lead after the first quarter, but a 19-6 run by the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter gave the Mavs the lead, and they gained it back for good late in the third quarter with a three from D.J. Stephens. Leading the Mavs was Josh Akognon with 24 points and was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line. Reggie Bullock again led the way for the Clippers with 20 points and 5 rebounds. JaJuan Johnson added 6 points and Vernon Macklin added 9 rebounds. The Clippers will take on the 15th seed New York Knicks this afternoon in the consolation round at 1 PM ET, while Dallas moved on to face the #1 seed Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.

  • Denver Nuggets (Luke Harangody) 87, New Orleans Pelicans 82

After almost losing a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets managed to pull away and hold off the Pelicans. Jordan Hamilton scored 23 points, going 8 of 14 from the floor and 4 of 7 from the perimeter, according to the NBA.com recap. Quincy Miller also chipped in 17 points, 12 of them coming in the third quarter. As for Harangody, he only scored 4 points the entire game, which hasn’t been like the performances he’s put on so far in this tournament. New Orleans was led by Darius Miller’s 23-point effort. The Nuggets advanced to take on the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night.

  • Miami Heat 113, New York Knicks (Tony Mitchell) 66

This game was one to forget for the New York Knicks, as Miami dominated the whole game from start to finish. Miami outscored the Knicks 22-8 in the first quarter while forcing seven turnovers and held the Knicks to just 29% from the field, according to the NBA.com recap. Travis Leslie scored 23 points for the Heat, and Jeremy Tyler scored 18 points for the Knicks and added 8 rebounds and an assist. Mitchell scored no points in this one, and played just under seven minutes. As said before, the Knicks will take on the LA Clippers in the consolation round this afternoon, while the Heat moved on to play the #2 seed Chicago Bulls Thursday.

Thursday 

  • D League Select (Ron Howard) 83, Minnesota Timberwolves (Demetri McCamey) 75

The D League Select Team keeps on rolling, as they won their fourth game of the Summer League, and first game of the tournament round over the T-Wolves. Brian Butch lead the way for the D League, scoring 18 points and adding 11 rebounds, according to the NBA.com recap. Ron Howard was second in scoring with 14 points, 12 of them earned at the free throw line. He also added 3 assists and 2 rebounds. Two other D League players, Elijah Millsap and Stefhon Hannah, were also in double digits, scoring 13 and 10 points respectively. As for the T-Wolves, they were led by Othyus Jeffers and Jeff Holland, who each scored 11 points. Demetri McCamey added 9 points for the T-Wolves. The D League Select advances to take on Cody Zeller and the Charlotte Bobcats in the quarterfinals at 8 PM ET on Saturday night. As for the T Wolves, they move into the consolation round to play the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at 7 PM ET.

  • Golden State Warriors (Cameron Jones) 79, Dallas Mavericks 76

Led by Kent Bazemore and his 25-pt performance, the Golden State Warriors were able to fend off the Dallas Mavericks with a late 17-2 run in the fourth quarter to win by three, according to the NBA.com recap. It was a back and forth game, with the Warriors being down 14 points during one part of the fourth quarter, the recap also said. Also helping the Warriors were the efforts of Cameron Jones, who was second in scoring with 15 points, Ian Clark, who added 13 points, and Draymond Green and Lance Goulbourne, who each added 10 points to the scoring. Dallas was led by Justin Dentmont, who scored 19 points, and was helped by Gal Mekel with 13, and Jackie Carmichael and Ricky Ledo, who each had 10. The Warriors advanced to take on the 8th seeded LA Lakers at 10 PM ET on Saturday, while the Mavericks face the Chicago Bulls in the consolation bracket tonight at 10 PM ET.

  • Toronto Raptors 95, Denver Nuggets (Luke Harangody) 78

Six players scored in double digits for the Raptors as they defeated Luke Harangody and the Denver Nuggets. Leading the way for the Raptors was Dwight Buycks with 18 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds, according to the NBA.com recap. Also scoring in double digits was Terrence Ross with 17 points, Jonas Valenciunas with 15, Coby Karl with 13, Micah Downs with 12, and Quincy Acy with 10. Jordan Hamilton again led the way for the Nuggets with 25 points. Harangody and Quincy Miller added 10 points for the Nuggets. The Raptors move on to face the Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinals on Saturday night at 6 PM ET while the Nuggets fall into the consolation round, where they will play the Memphis Grizzlies tonight at 8:30 PM ET.

Tune into the games this weekend, starting tonight with the consolation round, starting at 4 PM ET with the LA Clippers taking on the New York Knicks. Saturday’s quarterfinal games start at 4 PM ET with the Miami Heat taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers. All games are on NBA TV or online at www.nba.com/summerleague.

A link to the tournament bracket can be found here.

Recap of weekend NBA Summer League action

By Alec Johnson

The first weekend of the Las Vegas Summer League Games is done, and so far, the teams with the best records are the Chicago Bulls, Mad Ant affiliate Milwaukee Bucks, and the D-League Select Team featuring one of our own, “Mr. Mad Ant” Ron Howard. All three of these teams stand at 2-0. Here’s a recap of what happened with all the current and former Mad Ants and their teams:

Courtesy NBA.com

Ron Howard  (Courtesy NBA.com)

Ron Howard and the NBA D-League Select Team:

“Mr. Mad Ant” and his crew of D-League All-Stars have surprised everyone by starting out
2-0 in the campaign, putting them in prime position for a first round bye in the league tournament. Their first game was against the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday, featuring new draft picks Shabazz Muhammad and Chris Johnson, and former Purdue star Robbie Hummel. The D-League won a close game 83-81. Starring in this game  for them was Stefhon Hannah, who led the D-League Select Team with 23 points, according to NBA.com. The D-League Defensive Player of the Year scored eight of those points in the final two minutes and drew a key charge late to preserve a two-possession advantage. Howard only played 12:15 of the game, scoring 2 points.

In the D-League’s second game on Sunday, they took on the Los Angeles Clippers, and won again, defeating them 83-77. Elijah Millsap led the team in scoring this time with 21 points and ended up making the free throw line his home. He shot 20 free throws, making 15 of them. His attempted free throws were more than the Clippers took as an entire team, according to the NBA.com recap. Howard played 12:31 of the game, and again registered 2 points.

The final game of the preliminary round for the D-League Select Team will be against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, with tipoff scheduled for 10:30 PM ET, broadcasted live on NBA TV and online at NBA.com/summerleague.

Luke Harangody (Courtesy thesportsfanjournal.com)

Luke Harangody (Courtesy thesportsfanjournal.com)

Luke Harangody and the Denver Nuggets

In the first game of NBA Summer League action for the Nuggets and Harangody, the team struggled and shot poorly, losing 88-74 to Mad Ant affiliate Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. The Nuggets were led in scoring by Harangody and Ben Uzoh who both came off of the bench and finished with 11 points apiece.  Part of the reason for the loss was Denver’s inability to score in the paint, as the Bucks outscored the Nuggets 44-26, according to the NBA.com recap.

The Nuggets’ next preliminary round game will be tonight versus the Chicago Bulls at 10:30 PM ET on NBA TV and online at NBA.com/summerleague.

JaJuan Johnson (Courtesy Bleacher Report.com)

JaJuan Johnson (Courtesy Bleacher Report.com)

JaJuan Johnson, Vernon Macklin and the Los Angeles Clippers

Vernon Macklin (Courtesy NBA.com)

Vernon Macklin (Courtesy NBA.com)

The former Mad Ants’ players and the LA Clippers have had mixed results so far in the league. In their first game Friday, the Clippers were led by Reggie Bullock’s 18-pt effort and defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 90-83, according to the NBA.com recap. JaJuan Johnson only played 2:49 and scored 4 points and added a steal to his totals. As for Vernon Macklin, he contributed 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.

In their second game Sunday, the Clippers lost to the NBA D-League Select Team, 83-77, as stated before. Bullock again led the team with an 18-point effort, Macklin played 13:38 of the game, scoring 8 points and adding 3 rebounds. Johnson only played 3:26 of the game and didn’t score any points.

Demetri McCamey (Courtesy Gabe Hernandez, NBA)

Demetri McCamey (Courtesy Gabe Hernandez, NBA)

Demetri McCamey and the Minnesota Timberwolves

The current Mad Ant and the T-Wolves started out their campaign in Vegas Saturday with a close loss to the D-League Select Team, 83-81, as stated earlier in the article. McCamey did not play in this game.

Minnesota will play their next preliminary round game versus the Phoenix Suns tonight at 6;30 PM ET on NBA TV and online at nba.com/summerleague.

Tony Mitchell (Courtesy AL.com)

Tony Mitchell (Courtesy AL.com)

Tony Mitchell and the New York Knicks

In the Knicks first game of Summer League play, they took on the New Orleans Pelicans in the first game of the league on Friday and lost, 77-72. Austin Rivers of the Pelicans had 24 points to lead New Orleans, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. led the Knicks with 13 points, according to the NBA.com recap. Mitchell did not play, as he was still with the Boston Celtics’ team in Orlando wrapping up their summer league.

The second game was better for the Knicks, as they defeated the Washington Wizards 82-69 on Sunday. Leading the Knicks was Terrence Jennings, who scored 16 points shooting 7 of 11 from the floor and had 8 rebounds and 3 steals as well, according to the NBA.com recap. As for Mitchell, he played 13:12 of the game and scored 3 points and added an offensive rebound.

The Knicks wrap up preliminary round play today versus the Charlotte Bobcats at 4 PM ET to start the day’s action. It’s also live on NBA TV and online at nba.com/summerleague.

Cameron Jones (Courtesy USA Today)

Cameron Jones (Courtesy USA Today)

Cameron Jones and the Golden State Warriors

The former Mad Ant player and his team started their league campaign with a close 56-52 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday. Leading the way for the Warriors was Kent Bazemore, who scored 21 points and added 5 rebounds to help them overcome a six-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, according to the NBA.com recap. Jones started the game, and managed 2 points, 4 rebounds and a steal.

The next game for the Warriors will be tonight versus the Sacramento Kings at 8:30 PM ET live on NBA TV and online at nba.com/summerleague.

I’ll be keeping you updated throughout the week on all the Summer League action involving the Mad Ants’ players.

P.S. Listed here are links to the schedule of Summer League games and rules:

http://www.nba.com/news/las-vegas-summer-league-2013-schedule/index.html

http://www.nba.com/news/2013-las-vegas-summer-league-game-rules/index.html