The 2013 Las Vegas Summer League is wrapping up, and will be the first time we have a Summer League Champion. Teams have now competed in three preliminary round games and they have been seeded accordingly. Seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the favorites to win the Summer League Crown and more importantly, a guaranteed NBA contract.
Hawks 2012 draft picks John Jenkins and Mike Scott led their team in the summer league averaging 18 and 17 points per game respectively. 2013 1st round draft pick Dennis Schroder has had trouble scoring the ball, but has contributed in other areas leading the team in assists and steals. It should be interesting to see the young Schroder from Germany push Jeff Teague for playing time at the PG spot.
After a shaky debut in for the Bobcats, Cody Zeller has bounced back with big games, showing everyone why Rich Cho drafted him 4th overall. He has been dominating the paint, scoring in a variety of ways and consistently getting to the charity stripe. Jeffery Taylor has also showcased his scoring ability averaging 21 points through three games, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jumper still looks shaky. Word is however, that Charlotte has hired legendary shooter Mark Price to assist him. Look for his shooting mechanics to look totally different come November.
Charlotte will play Memphis in round two later today.
With Anderson Varejao likely to return to top form after his injury, and Andrew Bynum joining the Cavalier’s frontcourt, the fight for minutes just got a whole lot harder for Tyler Zeller. However, Zeller will keep the other two honest and competitive after averaging close to 14 points and 9 rebounds throughout Cleveland’s first three games. Cleveland’s first overall pick, Canadian Anthony Bennett remains unable to play while he rehabs from shoulder surgery.
Cleveland will play San Antonio in round two later today.
Andrew Goudelock has been lighting up Vegas to the tune of 22.7 ppg while shooting a scorching 56% from the field. Fellow guard Marquis Teague has also helped power the Bulls to a 3-0 record averaging 17 points and nearly 6 dimes a game. 2013 1st round draft pick Tony Snell has all the physical tools and skills to be a very good role player. He could be Chicago’s version of Kawhi Leonard. Malcolm Thomas caught the eye of all scouts with double-doubles in consecutive games. The last one capped off with 22 rebounds – a summer league record.
Chicago will play Miami in round two later today.
Mavericks first rounder Shane Larkin is expected to miss three months after undergoing right-ankle surgery. Josh Akognon is making a case for himself to be included on the final Dallas roster with his ability to score and defend the basketball. Jae Crowded has also displayed his versatility averaging a block, steal and a trey through three games.
Dallas plays Golden State in round two later today.
With a new GM and coach, Denver is a team in transition. Their play in Vegas certainly looks it. Jordan Hamilton will try to fill the gap that Andre Iguodala has left at the wing. Quincy Miller has made the most of his minutes, averaging 2 blocks a game at the small forward position. He’s a possible candidate to make the Denver roster if they need help filling the void Iguodala has left.
Denver will play Toronto in round two later today.
D-League Select Team
Stefhon Hannah has been making a name for himself in Vegas, leading the D-League Select team to a perfect record. His flashy style of play has drawn the attention of everybody on and off the floor, and Golden State might try to find room at the end of the bench for him. Elijah Millsap has also been impressive, appearing to get to the free throw line every time he put the ball on the floor. He lived at the charity stripe, shooting 40 points from the line through three games.
The D-League Select Team will play Minnesota in round two later today.
Golden State Warriors
Nobody knew the name of the young man who almost hit the game winning layup against the San Antonio Spurs in game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-finals. Manu Ginobili would go on to hit the game winning three-pointer in double-overtime. Kent Bazemore has absolutely made his name known in Vegas, averaging close to 16 points a game and leading the Warriors to a perfect record. Although Draymond Green’s shot has not been falling, he has been getting to the line at will and has been a defensive menace, racking up three steals per game. Look for Bazemore to take the role of Jarrett Jack and for Green to gobble up any remaining minutes behind Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes.
Golden State will play Dallas in round two later today.
Los Angeles Clippers
North Carolina alum Reggie Bullock should get plenty of open looks playing with Chris Paul. He is a knock down catch-and-shoot player and will keep opposing players honest. Samardo Samuel has looked solid down low in three starts for the Clippers. They should be a very good team this year under the guidance of Doc Rivers. If they can get consistent offense from their frontcourt, an NBA championship is not out of the question.
Los Angeles Lakers
Marcus Landry has been the most consistent player out of the L.A camp, and Lester Hudson has two solid games after a mediocre debut. The Lakers are looking for cheap talent to fill out the rest of their roster spots, and these players might make the cut. The Lakers are looking to start over after Dwight Howard spurned them for the Rockets. Kobe will lead the way once again, as he has done so many times in the past.
Los Angeles will play Milwaukee in round two later today.
Tony Wroten has lived at the line, getting double-digit free throw attempts in three of four games. It is hard to stop him once he puts his head down and goes to the rim because he is so athletic and strong. That being said, he only shot 60% from the line and his free throw shooting is something he needs to improve on. You can’t leave all that meat at the line. Rookie Jack Cooley has been impressive down low, averaging close to 10 rebounds a game and dominating in the paint with his gritty style of play.
Memphis will play Charlotte in round two later today.
The Heat are the only team to participate in both the Orlando and Vegas Summer League. As expected, Mike Miller was let go with the amnesty provision. Players have been very inconsistent as their minutes have been sporadic. Coach Spo seems to have gone with a house-league approach, giving all his players a chance to prove themselves. James Ennis, Jarvis Varnado and James Nunnally have all been players to lookout for. Canadian Myck Kabongo had a solid game against the Knicks with 9 points and 6 boards, after a slow start in Orlando.
Miami will play Chicago in round two later today.
John Henson does not belong in this Summer League. His length and athleticism will allow him to contribute more for the Bucks in his second year in the league. Especially in this year of flux, he’ll have many opportunities to step up. His 7’4 wingspan makes him a scary player on the defensive end. His offensive game is raw, but he runs the floor hard and has a nice touch around the rim.
Milwaukee will play Los Angeles in round two later today.
Shabazz Muhammad has been unspectacular so far in the Summer League. Being picked so low could temper expectations, but it’s hard to see his game transfer to the next level. He is an excellent scorer but doesn’t seem to do anything else besides that. At one point, he racked up a grand total of one assist in two games. It seems that they have another player like him in Derrick Williams already, although his upside is unquestionably higher. Gorgui Dieng is an NBA-ready center, and his defense is much needed on a defensively challenged roster.
Minnesota will play the D-League Select team in round two later today.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans will be very entertaining to watch with Jrue Holiday at the reins. It will be interesting to see how they work in Tyreke Evans at the small forward position. Along with Eric Gordon, they have a very small backcourt. Austin Rivers has been playing very well so far, which gives us hope that he will overcome an overwhelmingly disappointing rookie year.
New York Knicks
The Knicks might be looking for a guard now that J.R Smith is confirmed to be out for at least 3-4 months following knee surgery. The son of former All-Star point guard Tim Hardaway, Hardaway Jr. is most likely to be that guy. Similar to J.R, he has a penchant for jacking up poor shots, but that should be cleaned up now that he will be playing in the NBA. His potential to catch fire should make him a fan favorite at the Garden.
The Morris twins look very comfortable playing with each other, while Alex Len wasn’t able to play in the Summer League due to ankle surgery. If healthy, Len has the potential to be the top center in this draft. Acquiring Bledsoe means that Kendall Marshall is expendable. The Suns will be bad again next year, but have a good core going forward.
Phoenix will play Portland in round two later today.
C.J McCollum’s game is very similar to last year’s Rookie of the Year, and teammate Damian Lillard. He is also a high scoring guard with unlimited range and lightning quick handles. Lillard and McCollum will be a force to be reckoned with and they will be a nightmare backcourt to defend. Thomas Robinson has been a beast on the boards. After being traded twice in a year, he is on a mission to prove that he deserves to play in this league.
Portland will play Phoenix in round two later today.
Ben McLemore is probably the best thing to happen to the Kings since Jason Williams, as they are in a complete rebuild. McLemore’s arguably the best natural talent in the draft and his upside is very high. However, he has been widely inconsistent in the summer league, putting up big numbers one game, and throwing up bricks in others. The Kings are desperately looking for some guidance and leadership in these tough times, and it remains to be seen if McLemore can give it.
San Antonio Spurs
Deshaun Thomas is an elite scorer and has demonstrated that in Vegas. At pick 58, he was the best player left on the board, and is looking like another great find for the Spurs organization. First round pick Livio Jean-Charles is a long-term prospect, and it is likely he won’t be playing in the NBA for a couple of seasons. Canada’s own Cory Joseph has played well in Vegas and after some burn in the NBA finals, his confidence and game already looks like it has grown tenfold.
San Antonio will play Cleveland in round two later today.
Chris who? Jonas Valanciunas has been dominant in the Vegas Summer League. He has arguably been the best player averaging 20 points and close to 10 rebounds a game. He looks more comfortable with each passing game, and he is noticeably bigger and stronger than in his rookie year. He started hitting his stride near the end of the last season and his momentum has evidently carried into the offseason. Good things are coming for Raptors fans. Andrew Wiggins has even stated that he would want to play for the Raptors. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending how you look at it, the Raptors are going to be playoff contenders and will have a slim chance in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes.
Toronto will play Denver in round two later today.
It is no secret that Otto Porter is struggling in his first summer league stint. He has not looked relaxed at all and is forcing a lot of shots. Sure, it’s only summer league and playing with John Wall will make the game come a lot easier to him, but he needs to play at a higher level. Porter missed the game against Memphis due to a hamstring injury. After a dismal first two years in the NBA, Jan Vesely has a lot to prove. He is playing with more confidence in Vegas and has shown flashes of the player the Wizards envisioned when they drafted him 6th overall a couple of years ago. We’ll see how that translates to the regular season.