COMMENTARY | The Golden State Warriors are champions!
Although it's just for the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League and not for the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy, the Warriors proved that even their second- and third-string lineups were dominant over the rest of the teams in Nevada over the past few weeks. Going 7-0 in summer league play, they capped off their impressive run with a decisive 91-77 win over the Phoenix Suns in the championship game.
While most of the players on the Warriors' Summer League roster will not be on the team's 15-man roster when the season starts, there were five men who made a statement during these seven games and were impressive in Las Vegas.
Summer League averages: 21.6 minutes, 12.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals
The inaugural Vegas Summer League Championship Game MVP turned heads in the title game with 33 points, including seven 3-pointers in the victory over the Suns. A combo guard who had a spectacular four-year collegiate career at Belmont, Clark, an undrafted rookie free agent, definitely garnered some attention around the league for his big-time performances throughout Summer League.
A great shooter particularly behind the arc, as seen with his 45.9% (28-for-61) on 3s, the Warriors should definitely find a way to keep him on the 15-man roster. He was more impressive than guards Scott Machado and Kevin Murphy, who both have non-guaranteed contracts. However, with teams around the league eying him, Clark will likely opt to play elsewhere with the team that pays him the most or gives him the best chance to earn playing time.
Summer League averages: 30.1 minutes, 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals
A breakout star during the Summer League last year, Bazemore came into this year's tournament as the clear-cut leader. Leading the team in points and assists, he displayed the same passion for the game as a rookie last season along with an improved offensive game.
Despite losing out on league MVP honors to Toronto Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas, Bazemore displayed that he is more than just a glorified cheerleader on the bench; he has what it takes to be a contributor on an even deeper Warriors rotation. A hard worker who led his team throughout Summer League play, he should be able to carve some backup minutes behind Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala.
Summer League averages: 30.1 minutes, 12.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 2.0 steals
Like Bazemore, Green has never lost a Summer League game. Over these past two summers, he's had a big role in the Warriors' overall success and 13-game winning streak. Contributing on both sides of the ball, Green was second-in-command alongside Bazemore. He was particularly big at drawing fouls and going to the free-throw line, going 27-for-34 from the charity strike.
While his role coming into the 2013-14 season is undefined with so many new faces on the roster like Marreese Speights and Jermaine O'Neal, Green's performance in Las Vegas showcased why he still has an important spot on the roster. Whether he comes in for his defensive presence or serves as a stretch power forward in one of the Warriors' smaller lineups, Green fits head coach Mark Jackson's system, meaning he'll continue to serve as a valuable player off the bench.
Summer League averages: 26.0 minutes, 11.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 2.0 steals
Machado struggled in the starting lineup, particularly as a scorer, giving Jones an opportunity to become a breakout contributor. Only behind Bazemore and Green in minutes played, Jones' role grew as Summer League play rolled on, as he scored in double-digits in the team's final five games. While there probably won't be room for him on the regular-season roster, he will catch on to a team's training camp roster and continue to work his way toward earning a NBA contract.
Summer League averages: 17.9 minutes, 6.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.6 blocks
Despite receiving the fewest minutes out of the five players on this list, Goulbourne, a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors last season, continued to show growth and played particularly well against the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and Suns. With his playmaking and rebounding, he created second-chance opportunities and had great chemistry with his teammates. Dwayne Jones, the last of the non-guaranteed contracts, may be his biggest competition for a roster spot.
Austin Chang is a San Francisco Bay Area-based sports writer covering the Golden State Warriors for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is the Associate Editor of Sports Out West and an intern for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.
- Sports & Recreation
- Golden State Warriors
- Las Vegas Summer League
- Kent Bazemore