LAS VEGAS – Here's who shined and struggled on the first day of the NBA summer league Friday, according to various front-office personnel and scouts around the league.
1. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers – Aldridge played extremely well and showed a great deal of promise for his upcoming second year. He hit turnaround baseline jumpers and showed good range from 20 feet. He finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds in a 74-66 loss to Boston.
2. Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies – Conley showed great court presence in an 86-77 victory over Team China. He is very smooth and calm on the court and knows how to play the point guard position. He can finish with both hands around the basket and should really help Memphis. He finished with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists.
3. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies – Gay was more assertive than he has ever been. He took the ball to the basket aggressively and had two impressive dunks over Yi Jianlian. He also hit a couple of threes and finished with 21 points and six rebounds. He should be a bigger contributor in his second season.
4. Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee Bucks – Yi is not playing summer league with the Bucks but instead with Team China. He is athletic enough to get his shot off with ease against NBA players, as evidenced by his 23 points on 7-for-15 shooting from the field. However, Yi struggled with defense and turnovers (seven). He will need to get better in both categories in order to live up to his full potential.
5. Kevin Durant, Seattle SuperSonics – Durant struggled to make shots in a 77-66 defeat to Dallas, but he proved he can easily get good looks at the next level. He showed good moves around the basket and was difficult for anyone to guard in finishing with 18 points on 5-for-17 shooting. Durant will be a star sooner rather than later.
1. Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers – Young did not do anything to warrant being drafted 12th overall in a 65-61 win over San Antonio. He seemed out of place on the court and finished with a mere five points and two rebounds in 25 minutes.
2. Jason Smith, Philadelphia 76ers – Smith really struggled with the speed of the game and only finished 1-for-6 from the floor with two points. The 7-footer is athletic enough to do well in the NBA but just needs an adjustment period.
3. Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers – The No. 1 overall pick of last month's draft really struggled. He finished with more fouls (10) than rebounds and points combined (eight). He needs a great deal of work on the offensive end. For the most part, the Celtics guarded him one-on-one in the post and he only managed six points to go along with his two rebounds.
4. Jeff Green, Seattle SuperSonics – Green started off scoring five points in the first three minutes but managed only two points the rest of the way. He needs to learn to be more assertive offensively or he will continue to struggle. The No. 5 overall pick has a good all-around game, but it will be wasted if he does not look to score more frequently.
- Yi Jianlian