The 2013 Las Vegas Summer League is officially in the books. Golden State has beaten Phoenix 91-77 to earn the first Summer League Championship.
The end of an era for a Hawks team that was always going to be mediocre has come. It was inevitable that Atlanta and Josh Smith would part ways. They intend to build around budding all-star Al Horford, and if their play at Vegas is any indication, Mike Scott and John Jenkins are two players that will be part of Atlanta’s future. It’s hard to replace such a versatile, accomplished player like Josh Smith, but Scott and Jenkins will certainly try and fill the void. Dennis Schroeder has continually impressed with his strong defensive play, which doesn’t usually show up on the box score. His name will be commonplace on NBA all-defensive teams very shortly.
The Charlotte Bobcats have been one of the best teams in Vegas. Yes, you read that correctly. The Bobcats and ‘best’ were used in the same sentence. They fell to the eventual Summer League champions in the conference finals. Jeffrey Taylor was one of the best pure scorers and finished with an average of 20 ppg. Bismack Biyombo had a huge impact on the defensive end and is a big reason why the Bobcats made it to the Summer League conference finals.
Cleveland ended their run in Vegas with a loss to Miami, leaving them with a 3-2 record. Despite Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller sitting the game out, they only lost by six. Waiters led the Cavaliers in scoring and looks vastly improved after his second stint in the summer league. After starting 55 games last year, Zeller’s role should be reduced with a healthy Anderson Varejao and a motivated Andrew Bynum. First overall draft pick Anthony Bennet has not played as he continues to rehab a torn labrum. It will be interesting to see how head coach Mike Brown spreads out the minutes and gets his prized rookie up to speed and playing at a high level.
The Bulls had all the makings of a Summer League championship team. Malcolm Thomas was their post presence and interior defender – setting a summer league rebounding record along the way. They had two of the ten top scorers in the summer league in Marquis Teague and Andrew Goudelock. Tony Snell was the ultimate role player, doing all the team’s dirty work and then some. Chicago eventually finished with a 4-1 record after being upset by the Miami Heat in a low-scoring game that went down to the wire.
Josh Akognon and Bernard James were waived by the Mavericks to free up cap space to sign Monta Ellis. If they clear waivers, the Mavs are interested in resigning them at the minimum, though Akognon is likely to have other suitors after averaging nearly 18 ppg in the summer league. Jae Crowder looked solider and should be much improved in his sophomore year. Despite one of the more talented summer league teams, the Mavs only went 2-4. Like this time last year, their only constant is Dirk Nowitzki and they have put a number of new faces around him.
With a new GM and coach, Denver is in transition. The loss of Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer also leaves a hole at the wing spot. Their depth was their biggest advantage and now they have lost that. Jordan Hamilton has played very well in Vegas but he is no all-star. Their record at 1-5 reflects their play and this time of transition.
D-League Select Team
After a hot start, Stefhon Hannah and Elijah Millsap cooled down in their last two games. The Select team was one of the better teams with a 4-1 record. Millsap has a great sense of where the ball is going to be, averaging five rebounds through five contests. These two will find their way on an NBA roster sooner than later.
Golden State Warriors
Kent Bazemore has been one of the headlines in the Vegas Summer League. If you don’t know who he is, you’ll be hearing a lot more of him this season. Bazemore and Draymond Green led the Warriors to the first summer league championship game, but it was Ian Clark who brought the championship home. Clark was lights out with a 33-point effort and a 12-19 showing from the field (going 7-10 from deep). He was then selected as the game’s MVP.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers should be very pleased with their selection of Reggie Bullock. He has been the focal point of the offense and has not disappointed. It will be fun for Chris Paul to be playing with all the shooters on his squad. Unfortunately for Bullock, the Clippers have a ton of depth at his position, and they are in win-now mode. Minutes will be hard to come by for the North Carolina alumni.
Los Angeles Lakers
Robert Sacre had a good summer league season, showing us that he can be more than an energetic cheerleader on the bench. The big man will have to step up with Dwight Howard out of the picture. Marcus Landry did what he could with a second-rate Lakers squad and wants to be a part of the team come opening day. He has played for Coach Mike D’Antoni in New York before and hopes to have that opportunity again with the Lakers.
After Jack Cooley went undrafted in the 2013 draft class, he has definitely made a statement that he deserves to be in the NBA. The star at Notre Dame came up big in Vegas averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds a game. Tony Wroten has displayed his scoring and passing abilities, but his game wont translate as well to the next level because he relies so much on his size and strength.
The Miami Heat’s Cinderella story came to an end as they fell by two to Phoenix in the conference semi-finals. Led by James Ennis and James Nunnally, Miami was so close to reaching the finals but a forced jump ball sealed their fate. Those two players deserve contracts, but the Heat only have one spot left on their roster after using the amnesty provision on Mike Miller.
After his play in Vegas, John Henson will have many chances to contribute as a key piece in Milwaukee’s rotation. This should be his last summer league showing as it is obvious that he does not belong here. Dominique Jones’ hot start has since cooled down, but his defensive numbers have not. The man was good for two steals a game. His offense will come and go but his meal ticket is his lockdown defense.
Shabazz Muhammad’s first stint in the summer league has been disappointing to say the least. Once rumored as a first round pick, Muhammad fell to the Timberwolves because of ongoing controversies about his age, and concerns about every other aspect of his game outside of scoring. He has never defended or rebounded well, and despite reports about wanting to be a game changer, it will be difficult for him unless he expands his game.
New Orleans Pelicans
Austin Rivers’ play in Vegas reminds us of when he was dominating at Duke. Pelican fans can only hope that his play will translate to the next season after a disappointing overhyped rookie year. It remains to be seen how he will fit in with newly minted point guard Jrue Holiday and former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans.
New York Knicks
Jeremy Tyler is looking to get back in the NBA after getting waived by the Hawks last year. He might get his opportunity with the Knicks after playing so well for them in the Summer League. Terrence Jennings made the most of his limited minutes averaging 10 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Knicks. Tim Hardaway Jr left the league with a bruised wrist against New Orleans.
The Morris twins look like they’re playing together in Kansas again. Although they lost to the Warriors in the Summer League championship game, they had a fantastic run together. Along with P.J Tucker and Archie Goodwin, Phoenix looks like they can turn things around this year.
Portland Trail Blazers
Rookie of the Year honors might go to a player in Portland for the second year in a row. C.J. McCollum has been fantastic in his first summer league stint, averaging 21 points and scoring at will. Will Barton and Meyers Leonard have been solid for Portland as well. This young team will creep up on some teams this year.
Ben McLemore is the perfect prototypical shooting guard with his size, length and scoring ability. That being said, it was his mental toughness that impressed us the most. He showed that he will have bad shooting nights but he will bounce back. However, it’s troubling to note that he did not record a single assist through four games. With a quick first step and a 40” vertical, Ray McCallum’s physical tools should help him make the transition to the NBA while the rest of his game develops.
San Antonio Spurs
Spurs fans should be happy to see that Ryan Richards finally had a chance to showcase his talent. In 18 minutes he went off for 18 points on 8-11 shooting. He’s been stashed overseas to develop and is one of the many young assets this organization has. Aron Baynes quietly averaged a double-double and had can provide some relief for an aging Tim Duncan.
Jonas Valuncianas has simply dominated the Vegas Summer League. Toronto officials decided they had seen enough and shut him down after averaging close to 19 points per game and 10 rebounds through four games. The Raptors are hoping this type of play translates to the regular season. Quincy Acy also impressed when the opportunity arose, playing bigger than his height suggests. He reminds me of Reggie Evans with a jump shot.
Otto Porter injured his hamstring against Denver and didn’t return. He would then sit out the remaining games although his injury was only considered day-to-day. Jan Vesely demonstrated his versatility and athleticism, collecting at least a steal and block in every game. Washington brass still has confidence that he can become a player similar to Andrei Kirilenko in his prime. In addition to John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards have an excellent young core that is similar to Oklahoma City’s young core a few years back.