Summer league is finally over. While the Kings continue to have a head-scratching offseason, they knocked off the Rockets thanks to MVP Ray McCallum's 29 points to win the title. They also had a recently-fired head coach, Ty Corbin, call the shots on their way to the championship. The zaniness of the outcome embodies what offseason basketball is all about. Yay, summer league!
We're back with Part 4 of Summer League Summary, but we're actually going to have a fifth part and finish up on Wednesday. Apparently, I hadn't realized how many more players needed analysis in the second half of the alphabetical teams.
You can follow me on Twitter @MikeSGallagher for offseason stats and analysis.
Heat - There was some Twitter drama with Shabazz Napier not following LeBron James last week, which was probably the most noteworthy positive of his week. The UCONN product shot 27.7 percent from the field in Las Vegas and 27.3 percent in Orlando, so those nine games didn’t go well for him at all. The 6’1” guard couldn’t get many clean looks from anywhere on the court. He attempted 50 shots from beyond the arc, which is really the only saving grace he’ll have for making an offensive impact. Much like Trey Burke, the undersized Napier probably won’t be able to post a very good percentage around the rim. Now that general manager LeBron James is no longer in South Beach, Napier probably won’t be getting much action in his first season.
James Ennis continues to play well in summer league. He put up 13 points per game and filled up the stat sheet in summer league last year as arguably Miami's best player. He didn’t lose any momentum this year with 17.0 points per game in Orlando and 12.5 in Las Vegas. Ennis had averages of 2.1 triples per game and 1.6 triples per game in each event, so he definitely showed some upside from a stats standpoint.
President Pat Riley said he’s planning on using Ennis more this season, but it’s not likely to be in a featured role. We’ll likely have to see Luol Deng miss time before Ennis gets on the radar.
James Nunnally saw some minutes here and there for the Hawks and 76ers last year, but he shot just 32.6 percent from the field combined. He played for the Pacers and scored 11.3 points per game in Orlando, then he picked it up in Vegas with the Heat, averaging 13.2 points, 4.0 boards and 0.6 steals on 56.1 percent from the field. He will likely get a camp invite somewhere, but would need some injuries to make an impact.
Bucks - They were a disaster on the court last season and were one of the most annoying teams to cover during the season. Hey, they didn’t even share the status of O.J. Mayo for like 30 percent of the season, so that was cool. However, they were one of the more interesting teams in Las Vegas.
The Bucks have hinted that they will play Jabari Parker at both forward spots, which is something he showed he’s more than capable of doing. He led the ACC in rebounds last year and even pulled down 15 boards in his Vegas finale. Parker finished with averages of 15.6 points, 8.2 boards, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.4 triples on 41.9 percent from the field. He also went to the line more than 10 times in two different games.
One of the more impressive aspects of his game was how well he performed around the basket. Rookies tend not to excel around the rim. Interestingly, LeBron James shot just 57.8 percent at the rim in his rookie season — he shot a ridiculous 78.3 percent from there last year. Parker has an excellent chance to clear 65 percent from around the rim, which could get him around 47 percent overall. He’ll be stuffing stat sheets for a long time and has the upside to be a first-round guy in a couple years. He'll also be the top rookie in redraft formats because he's NBA-ready.
The Greek Freak was one of the most fun players to grow last year -- literally and figuratively. That story continued in the offseason and he’s now listed at 6’11”, which seemed legit in person. Giannis Antetokounmpo lined up all over the floor and Jason Kidd said he’s planning on giving Antetokounmpo minutes at point guard. While that sounds exciting, he has a lot of work to do as a ball handler and facilitator. There wasn’t much ball movement when he brought the ball up the court and obviously being that tall makes it a little easier to get steals off him. That said, there’s really no way the point guard factor can be spun negatively. He’s a freak.
As for his performance, it was something. His length made his first step almost unstoppable and he terrorized teams in transition. It’s easy to fall in love with him, but he didn’t improve last year and it’s possible he flops again in his second year. What's more, his season got much worse as the year went along with a 39.2 percent from the field after the break. Here's a breakdown of how he did on certain plays (per Synergy):
If he's really going to handle the ball, he has a lot of work to do in pick-and-roll, which didn't look any better in Vegas. Although, he looked outstanding in isolation and was able to beat guys baseline throughout the week. He was also much better around the rim -- another area he will really need to build off of because of his sub-par shooting. Yes, there is a lot of work to do for the Alphabet.
Who cares, though? There's almost too much upside and that's what it's all about in the last third of your fantasy draft.
Nate Wolters played some solid ball, but obviously the addition of Kendall Marshall hurts his prospects. It’s possible we see Marshall step in as the starter and bump Brandon Knight to shooting guard. Who really knows, though?
Wolves - Zach LaVine had some ups and downs with the Wolves. He had no problem getting easy shots in UCLA because he was so much taller than the guys covering him, and he looked a lot better as the week went along in Vegas, too. One weakness is that he really couldn’t finish around the rim with his left hand. It was nice to see he had some great handles with his left, but not finishing with both hands well will lead to a lot of misses from within five feet.
The Wolves played him at both guard positions and that figures to continue in the regular season. He has enough of a ceiling to draft and stash in deep leagues in case Kevin Martin or Ricky Rubio get hurt. LaVine may actually produce decent stats sooner than fellow rookie Dante Exum. We'll be watching him closely in training camp.
Gorgui Dieng picked up where he left off, averaging 11.5 points, 10.2 boards, 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks in 29.8 minutes per game in Vegas. He looked a little quicker out there, which could help him get some minutes at power forward. As it stands right now, he’s not really going to be worth drafting in most leagues. Obviously, a Kevin Love deal would change that instantaneously.
Shabazz Muhammad likes to shoot the ball. He had a game with 24 shots and four of his five in Vegas had at least 12 shots. Of course, he only had three assists the entire time there, which is actually an improvement from his college days. His game just won’t translate to fantasy very well. It’s basically the same thing with Alexey Shved. Let’s just skip him.
Glenn Robinson III wasn’t effective either, making just 38.5 percent from the field and looked a bit out of sorts in halfcourt sets. On the bright side, his last game was his best one with a 17-point effort on July 18. The Wolverine is likely off to the D-League and will really have to work on his shot down there.
Pelicans - Russdiculous! Russ Smith was named to the Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team for his top-ranked 6.4 assists per game. He shot a very respectable 43.4 percent from the field with 1.0 triples per game to go with 16.0 points, 5.0 boards and 1.4 steals. On top of the big stat line, Russ’ athleticism was quite the sight. He was beating guys off the dribble and able to dish the ball to his teammates as he caused defensive breakdowns. The Pelicans will need some help behind Jrue Holiday now that Brian Roberts is with the Hornets… again. Smith has his weaknesses, but he’s certainly a more interesting option than Austin Rivers or Jimmer Fredette.
Patric Young was arguably the most talented player not to be drafted and he supported that claim in Las Vegas. The Florida product averaged 7.4 points, 8.0 boards and 0.8 blocks in 25.2 minutes while hustling all over the court. I’d expect him to be D-League bound unless he absolutely goes nuts at training camp.
Courtney Fells was also remarkably efficient with the Pelicans, posting an effective field goal percentage of 68.3(!), which is even more impressive with his 15.0 points per game. He probably earned himself a camp invite at worst.
Knicks - Tim Hardaway Jr. made the Vegas second team with his second-ranked scoring at 22.8 points per game, but he didn’t do much else. He averaged just 2.6 boards and 1.2 assists, so it wasn’t as impressive from a stats standpoint. THJ was doing most of his work in catch-and-shoot situations earlier in the 2013-14 season, but he put the ball on the floor a ton in Las Vegas as the focal point of the offense.
J.R. Smith said he’s going to start this year, which means Hardaway Jr. would be coming off the bench. If Derek Fisher is going to run the triangle, there probably won’t be much of a chance for him to put up big numbers. He’d need Smith or Carmelo Anthony to miss time to be a consistent factor.
Cleanthony Early was one of the more impressive second-round picks thanks to a 52.3 effective field goal percentage. The Wichita State product was all over the floor on both ends and showed enough athleticism to get minutes. Although, he really didn’t have his ball handling where it needs to be and did gamble a lot on defense. He’ll make the team, but may miss out on a rotation spot.
Cole Aldrich had a calf injury cut his trip short after leading all participants in rebounds per game at 15.0. He basically just pushed guys around in his brief time out there and seems like a safe bet for a rotation spot behind Samuel Dalembert. We’ll see if Andrea Bargnani starts at center, which seems like a really, really bad move with a sub-par perimeter defense.
Shane Larkin did an admirable job with his line of 12.2 points, 4.2 boards, 3.4 assists, 3.0 steals, 1.4 turnovers and 1.2 triples. He has a chance to beat out Pablo Prigioni for the backup point guard job and would really help the Knicks create a much-needed up-tempo second unit.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo was all over the place and probably will have to cool it with the fouling in order to ever make it in the league. He had a ludicrous 4.8 fouls per game in just 14.0 minutes. Yes, that’s 16.5 fouls per 48 minutes. He has serious hops and can defend, but he needs a lot of work with respect to his offense, too. He’ll be overseas next year.
Jeremy Tyler going overseas instead of going to college may have been a mistake, but he’s starting to come around. He had three double-digit games in the last three months of the season and wasn’t a disaster on defense. His summer league was decent with averages of 9.8 points, 5.8 boards and 0.4 blocks, so he has a chance to make the team. He’d likely need Amare Stoudemire to miss time to get on the fantasy map.
Thunder - Jeremy Lamb was a big reason why the Thunder won the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League crown, but he didn’t fare quite as well this time around. Lamb shot an underwhelming 32.0 percent from the field for 17.3 points per game. Last season was a disappointment due to poor shot selection and porous defense, so his chances of having a significant role do not increase much despite the loss of Thabo Sefolosha.
Andre Roberson seems to be gaining ground on Lamb and ranked third among Orlando participants with his 8.0 rebounds per game. He shot 48.3 percent from the field with averages of 9.5 points, 2.0 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and 0.5 triples. Anthony Morrow is still a better fit and will likely get more minutes on the wing than these other two fellows.
Mitch McGary exceeded most expectations with his line of 14.8 points, 5.8 boards, 1.3 assists and 1.8 blocks. His offensive post game was a lot better than expected and he had a solid mid-range game. The U of M product is a nice complement to Steven Adams, but certainly has a higher upside for fantasy due to the fact he has some sort of an offensive arsenal. Still, he's nowhere close to being worth drafted in most fantasy leagues.
Speaking of Adams, he averaged 9.7 points, 4.7 boards and 1.0 blocks in 27.0 minutes. The points came due to his offensive rebounds outnumbering his defensive ones. Kendrick Perkins is still around, so there’s not a lot of potential to be had here.
Magic - Before Vegas, it was all about Elfrid Payton. He still had a glaring weakness with his lack of a perimeter game, but that still didn’t stop him from handing out a summer league-leading 7.0 assists per game to go with his averages of 9.2 points, 5.2 boards, 1.4 steals and 0.6 blocks.
Payton shot an ugly 25.9 percent from 3-point land last year, but he made a sterling 54.1 percent from the two-point range. He showed he can get to the rim at summer league, which is something quite a few rookie guards couldn’t do. Among guards playing at least 17 minutes per game in summer league, the Ragin’ Cajun ranked first with his 59.3 percent from the field, which is even more impressive considering he started out 1-of-4 in his first summer league game.
The Magic did pick up Luke Ridnour, but there’s little reason for them to let Luke get in Payton’s way. He’s a low-end PG2 in standard formats. I'd currently slot him in at No. 2 for rookies behind Jabari Parker.
Aaron Gordon is an absolute freak and his ceiling is sky high. However, he is arguably the rawest forward to be selected in the lottery. I’m sure you’ve heard about his 42 percent from the free throw line at Arizona by now, and he shot just 47.8 percent on his 23 attempts in summer league. His stats weren’t inspiring in the other departments either, averaging 7.8 points, 5.0 boards, 1.2 assists and 0.4 blocks on 35.0 percent from the field. He’ll really have to fill out and play more power forward because he doesn’t have the skill to be a wing guy yet.
Victor Oladipo is looking at a heavy dose of minutes at shooting guard. His turnovers were inexcusable and he led all non-centers (minimum=30 minutes) in turnover ratio last season, so coach Jacque Vaughn probably won’t put him at the point next season. He shouldn’t anyway.
His summer league was an encouraging endeavor with 17.0 points per game while getting good looks at the basket and playing within himself. He shot a respectable 42.5 percent from the field and 35.7 percent on his 14 attempts from downtown in his three games.
Oladipo’s season finished strong with an April field goal percentage of 46.8 percent (52.6 eFG%). He made 63.0 percent his shots at the rim in April, which is well above his 53.2 percent before that stretch. If he can get his 3-point shooting to around 35 percent, he could be in for a big season. He’s worth a look in the late middle rounds with his high upside.
We'll wrap this puppy up tomorrow!
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