The way former Georgetown center Henry Sims views it, it’s not how long he plays, it’s how well he plays.
He can’t afford to see it any other way. He’s trying to earn an invitation to Charlotte Bobcats training camp by playing well on their summer league team. The Bobcats like him, but the priority here through the first three games has been to develop the players already under contract.
Sims hasn’t played more than 141/2 minutes in any of those games, and generally in three-minute spurts. He could gripe about that, or he could keep reminding himself of the following:
“In those three minutes, in basketball, a lot happens,” Sims said Monday, after the Bobcats’ 84-71 victory over the New York Knicks.
For the Bobcats, the first three games in Las Vegas were almost entirely about developing chemistry between contract players Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeffery Taylor, Bismack Biyombo and rookie Cody Zeller. Since Biyombo and Zeller are both big men, there’s limited time left over for the 6-foot-10 Sims.
But the Bobcats know he has potential, probably as much as any of the 10 tryout players on this roster. He went undrafted in 2012, but he improved while playing for the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League. He got a brief call-up, playing two games during a 10-day contract last March with the now-New Orleans Pelicans.
“He did really well practicing (in Charlotte), and he’s a good player,” said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford.
“It’s hard to get him enough minutes. It’s hard for guys to not play as many minutes as they’re used to and still play well.”
Sims hasn’t done anything spectacular, totaling 11 points and 11 rebounds in just under 41 minutes. But his athleticism for his size is obvious, and he had options this summer. The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Pelicans all offered him summer-league spots.
Sims said he chose the Bobcats because they had a scout frequently attending his D-League games. The Bobcats have plenty of centers in Biyombo, Brendan Haywood and recently-signed free agent Al Jefferson. But size is hard to find, so bringing him to preseason camp at Asheville in October makes some sense.
“They’re looking for a big, they want a big, and it’s my job to give them a reason to think that may be me,” Sims said. “I know I’m not going to get 20-25-30 minutes a game. So when I do get in there, it’s my job to box out, to get rebounds, to set screens, hit open shots.”
Sims developed skills as a passer while at Georgetown. It’s incumbent on big men to be superior ballhandlers in the Princeton-style offense the Hoyas run.
“Georgetown enhances your basketball IQ, as far as what pass is perfect for a given situation,” Sims said. “As a big, you’re like a point guard on the floor. Pretty much the whole offense runs through you.”
The Bobcats, 2-1 this summer, have at least two additional games in Las Vegas, more if they advance in the tournament-style draw. Clifford said he has accomplished what he set out to do with the contract players, and will give the tryout guys more minutes in the remaining games.
“We haven’t had the chance to give him the minutes he really deserves,” Clifford said of Sims. “He’s very smart, he’s a good worker and he’s very skilled. I would think he has a great chance to be on an NBA roster.”
The camp on UNLV’s campus is a chance for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his national-team staff to evaluate a number of young players as candidates for the next Olympics cycle.
Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker was included as part of initial invitations. Kidd-Gilchrist, Indiana Pacers guard George Hill and Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart were added Tuesday.