LAS VEGAS – Here is who shined and struggled in NBA summer league play on Tuesday, according to various front-office personnel and scouts around the league.
1. Coby Karl, Los Angeles Lakers – Karl is perfect for the triangle offense. He can pass and make open shots, and he knows how to space the floor. He did all three things in a 98-95 overtime loss to Philadelphia as he finished with 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
2. Rodney Carney, Philadelphia 76ers – Carney is a gifted, athletic player who has a ton of potential. He showed off that talent with some nice moves to the basket and an impressive shooting stroke from the outside (where he was 3-for-3 on three-pointers). Carney, the 16th pick in the 2006 draft, finished with 30 points.
3. Renaldo Balkman, New York Knicks – The controversial 20th pick last year is proving that Isiah Thomas can at least evaluate talent. Balkman scored 10 points in a solid offensive effort that helped the Knicks beat China 88-65. Balkman's strength, however, is his endless motor while defending and rebounding. Running all over the court to make play after play, he added seven rebounds and five steals in 25 minutes. He is the type of unsung hero that is found on every NBA championship team.
4. Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets – Extremely quick, Brooks can get into the lane whenever he wants. In a 90-76 win over the Clippers, the 26th overall pick in last month's draft had solid finishes around the basket and showed nice range on his jump shot in going 3-for-6 on threes. Brooks also distributed the ball, recording eight assists to go with his 21 points, and did a good job pressuring the ball. If he continues to play like this, he could really help the Rockets.
5. Von Wafer, Denver Nuggets – Wafer shot the ball very well in scoring 19 points in an 87-83 loss to Dallas. He showed excellent range on his jump shot in making three of four three-pointers, and he was effective putting the ball on the floor and getting to the free-throw line (where he went 8-for-11). The Nuggets need help at the point guard position and they need better three-point shooting. Wafer might at least solve the shooting problem.
6. Marco Belinelli, Golden State Warriors – Belinelli continued his impressive shooting from long range. The 18th pick made two of three shots from beyond the arc and is now a combined 12-for-18 on threes in summer league. He not only has shown the ability to shoot the ball but has also shown he can put it on the floor and pass it. The Warriors have been ecstatic with Belinelli, who finished with 15 points in a 90-80 loss to San Antonio.
1. Nick Young, Washington Wizards – There is no question that Young is talented and one day will be good. But that day certainly was not Tuesday. Although Young is athletic and has a nice shot, the 16th pick struggled with his shooting, handling the ball and playing defense against the Kings. He finished with 11 points (3-for-14 from the field), seven fouls and three turnovers as his Wizards fell to Sacramento 75-64.
2. Jason Smith, Philadelphia 76ers – Smith has all the physical tools to be a good NBA player. He is tall, strong and athletic. He also has a nice jumper but unfortunately he plays with no passion. He just goes through the motions on the court and he's going to struggle against NBA big men with his current effort. The 20th pick finished with 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
3. Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee Bucks – Yi again struggled against a strong, athletic defender. The 2007 sixth overall pick did not make a field goal against the Knicks and finished with three points, nine fouls and five turnovers. Yi has looked lost on the court for most of the summer league, and the physical nature of the game is really bothering him. Yi, however, is athletic and can shoot the ball, so it should just be a small adjustment period before he becomes a solid NBA player.
4. DeSagana Diop, Dallas Mavericks – It is bad enough when anyone plays almost 20 minutes in summer league and scores zero points, but it is especially bad when that person is a starting center in the NBA. Diop, however, accomplished that feat on Tuesday. When watching Diop play offense it seems that he has never touched a basketball in his life. He has few moves and a bad touch around the basket. It is a good thing that Dallas has several good offensive players because Diop is a huge offensive liability.