NBA summer league: Winners & losers
John Wall(notes) sat comfortably on the bench in a white T-shirt and pants during the Washington Wizards’ summer league finale Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas. The Wizards gave Wall the game off because they already had seen enough from their rookie guard – almost all of it good.
Other than a slow start in his first game, Wall dazzled Las Vegas, making him – and the Wizards – the big winners of summer league. Here’s a look at who did well and not so well during the NBA’s two summer sessions in Orlando and Las Vegas.
WINNER: John Wall
Wall dominated the Las Vegas summer league, averaging 23.5 points and 7.8 assists – both highs for the league – in four games. The Wizards rookie needs to work on his jump shot (he missed all but one of his eight 3-point attempts) and he also committed an average of 5.2 turnovers. Even so, Wall showed off not only his own scoring prowess, but also the ability to make his teammates better.
[Photos: See more of the Wizards’ John Wall]
He displayed leadership and accepted coaching – both important traits for someone who will be the centerpiece of the Wizards’ rebuilding.
While Wall lived up to expectations as the top pick of the draft, the No. 2 selection had a much more difficult time.
Turner was the biggest disappointment of the Orlando summer league, averaging just 9.4 points on 33.3 percent shooting. He also averaged more turnovers (3.4) than assists (2.8). The Philadelphia 76ers rookie didn’t appear to be in great shape. He rebounded well, but never scored more than 13 points in five games.
WINNER: Sacramento Kings
The No. 5 overall pick also quieted questions about his maturity. He accepted constructive criticism and showed some leadership on Sacramento’s summer league team.
The third pick in the draft averaged just seven shots in the New Jersey Nets’ first four summer league games in Orlando because teammate Terrence Williams(notes) was busy hoisting away. Williams, the Nets’ second-year guard, averaged 19 shots a game.
When the Nets limited Williams to just four minutes in their finale, Favors went for 23 points and 11 rebounds while making 10 of his 17 shots. If the Nets could do it over, they might want to feature Favors a little more prominently.
The Sixers’ second-year point guard built a strong case in front of new coach Doug Collins for why he should be starting. Holiday, 20, averaged 19.3 points, six assists and 1.7 steals in three games.
LOSER: Minnesota Timberwolves
Wesley Johnson(notes), the third overall pick for the T’wolves, played in just one game in Las Vegas because of a hamstring injury. Second-year Wolves guard Jonny Flynn(notes) also didn’t play in the summer league because of a hip injury.
WINNER: New York Knicks
The Knicks didn’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but did display three second-rounders in Vegas who might be able to make an impact as reserves: forward Landry Fields(notes), sharpshooter Andy Rautins(notes) and 7-foot center Jerome Jordan(notes). Swingman Bill Walker(notes), just 22 years old, also showed promise that he might be ready to become a rotation player.
The Golden State Warriors’ first-round pick missed the Las Vegas summer league after undergoing surgery on his injured left wrist that will keep him out six months. The absence of Udoh certainly has Warriors fans wondering if the franchise should have instead selected Greg Monroe(notes) with the No. 6 pick.
WINNER: Indiana Pacers
The Pacers gambled when they drafted Fresno State guard Paul George(notes) with the 11th overall pick, but George didn’t disappoint in Orlando. He not only scored well, averaging 15.2 points, but also grabbed 7.8 rebounds and was a better-than-expected defender with 2.4 steals per game.
WINNER: Toronto Raptors
Chris Bosh(notes) is gone, but the Raptors might have found a younger version of him in first-round pick Ed Davis(notes). Expect the skilled Davis to be a force for the Raptors once he adds muscle to his slender 6-10, 227-pound frame.
LOSER: Former Jayhawks
The University of Kansas had two lottery picks in center Cole Aldrich(notes) and Xavier Henry(notes), but neither played in summer league. Aldrich didn’t play for the Oklahoma City Thunder because league rules prevented his trade from New Orleans from being finalized until July 8 – too late for him to jump onto the Thunder’s entry in Orlando.
Henry didn’t play for the Memphis Grizzlies in Las Vegas because his rookie contract had yet to be finalized.
WINNER: The unheralded
Forwards Devin Ebanks(notes) and Derrick Caracter(notes), taken by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, both showed promise. The Boston Celtics landed a power forward in the second round who could help them immediately off the bench: Luke Harangody(notes) averaged 16.6 points and made nine of his 18 3-pointers.
Other intriguing lesser-known summer league players included Utah forward Jeremy Evans(notes), sharpshooting Dallas guard Jeremy Lin, Cleveland point guard Pooh Jeter and Boston guard Jaycee Carroll. Lin went undrafted and Jeter and Carroll have both been playing overseas.
LOSER: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers received solid play from their two first-round picks, forward Al-Farouq Aminu(notes) and guard Eric Bledsoe(notes). Forward Blake Griffin(notes), the No. 1 pick of the 2009 draft, participated in practice, but was held out of summer league games after missing all of last season with a broken left kneecap.
Still, one of the most memorable scenes in Las Vegas came when Clippers president Andy Roeser scolded the franchise’s most passionate fan for heckling John Wall during a summer league game.
Darrell Bailey, more commonly known as “Clipper Darrell,” has attended 385 consecutive Clippers games and even has his BMW painted in the team’s red and blue colors. Still, that didn’t keep Roeser from admonishing Bailey and asking him to stop heckling Wall.
Bailey, who has been a Clippers’ season-ticket holder for nine seasons, has loyally supported the woeful franchise, even once turning down a job offer from the Dallas Mavericks.