There are ten teams competing in Orlando Summer League this season with a variety of different kinds of players. As teams are filled with veterans, young prospects, and out-and-out rookies, Summer League is a time of year filled with wonder, promise, and ugly basketball.
We’ll be previewing the rosters of all ten teams that will be involved in the Orlando Summer League by giving about 30-50 words on each player and letting you know how legitimate their NBA chances are.
The next team on our list?
Houston Rockets Summer League roster
The Rockets are bringing an intriguing mix of players to Orlando under J.B. Bickerstaff. I wouldn’t expect any Rio Grande Valley-like fireworks with this team though, despite featuring many of the same players.
Nick Johnson, G: Johnson is one of those guys who will probably light up a summer league game here and get everyone excited about his potential. He can shoot from distance, is extremely athletically explosive, and there will be very little actually defense played. There will be few more fun players in Orlando, so watching Johnson should be slight appointment viewing despite the fact that he’s not exactly NBA-ready yet.
Players under contract
Robert Covington, F: Covington is a big small forward at 6’9 who throws up threes with reckless abandon. He averaged 23 points-per-game with a 57% true-shooting percentage while taking 8.5 threes per game. He’s also a good rebounder for the small forward position, averaging 9 boards per contest, although all RGV stats must be taken with a grain of salt given their insanely quick pace. His contract is non-guaranteed this season, but I imagine he’ll continue to be in the Rockets’ plans as long as he continues to shoot well from distance.
Isaiah Canaan, G: Canaan’s contract is guaranteed this season, and given that Troy Daniels is looking elsewhere in free agency and that Jeremy Lin is on the block, Canaan might see some real minutes this year with the Rockets. He averaged 22 points-per-game on a 59% true-shooting percentage in Rio Grande Valley, so given that and his contract status he’ll be with the Rockets most of the time this season.
Random International Dude
Miro Bilan, C: Bilan is a 24-year-old seven-footer that is known more for his guile and ability on offense than for his athleticism. He went undrafted a couple years ago, most likely isn’t good enough to make the NBA, and would be better-served monetarily by staying in Europe.
Jabari Brown, G: Brown is an undersized two-guard that was a surprise entrant into the NBA Draft. He’s an active defender with length that can shoot the three ball, but unfortunately he’s probably just a bit too undersized at 6’3 to play the “3 and D” role. He would absolutely destroy the D-League if he played for Rio Grande Valley next season, but probably can’t make the Rockets next season. Someone else? Possibly.
Jahii Carson, PG: Carson made a pretty big mistake by not turning pro after his freshman season, when he would have been a clear first-round pick in the 2013 draft. As such, he declared for the draft this season and went undrafted. I got to see him live this year against UCLA, and felt that while the quickness was NBA-level, he was way too out-of-control and could struggle with his jumper. If he slows down, he could make it in the NBA, but as of right now he has some growing to do.
Tarik Black, PF/C: After transferring from Memphis, Black played his senior season for Kansas, where he played 13 minutes per game. He’s can’t shoot from outside of five feet, and he’s really undersized for the center position. Unfortunately, that normally leads to it being really difficult to make it in the NBA.
Jermaine Marshall, G: Another collegiate senior transfer, Marshall scored 15 points-per-game while playing next to Carson in the Arizona State backcourt last season. He has really improved his three-point shot, but he doesn’t create his own shot or defend well enough most likely to make it in the NBA. However, he should have a nice long D-League or Euro career.
Akil Mitchell, F: Mitchell took a slight step back this year in his role at Virginia as the team improved and became potentially the most efficient team in the country. He’s an excellent rebounder and energetic defender with a near 7’0 wingspan at 6’9, which means he has a shot if he can add some strength and continue that high-motor play.
Chris Crawford, G: Crawford was a four-year contributor at Memphis, where he showed off his shooting ability in the last three seasons of that run. He was an average defender in college, but I’m not sure that’ll translate. Basically, Crawford was just an average player in college. He should be able to make it Europe with his shooting ability though.
Richard Solomon, C: At 6’11, Solomon has good enough size for the center position and was a double-double machine in college. He’s mobile, rebounds well, but isn’t strong enough to get centers off the block. He should have a solid D-League or European career, but he’s probably not quite there when it comes to his NBA potential.
Chris Udofia, F: Udofia is an intriguing wing prospect that was forced into Denver’s frontcourt throughout his career. In a lot of ways, Udofia is the Rockets’ most intriguing non-contracted rookie. He’s a good athlete, an excellent passer that excelled in the Princeton offense, and has a long wingspan. My guess is that he doesn’t have the skill level of an NBA player, but he’s smart enough to make the D-League for sure.
Non-rookie, non-NBA players
Chris Kramer, G: There is no player that I enjoyed watching annoy people more in college than Kramer. However, he’s basically a worse version of Aaron Craft. So he’s not a realistic NBA prospect. However, he’s been able to carve out a decent career in Germany so there’s nothing wrong with that.
Maarty Leunen, F: The Rockets actually still hold Leunen’s draft rights from 2008, but it’s doubtful he’ll ever come over. He’s played in Italy for Cantu since 2009, where he’s showcased an excellent outside shot since then as well as solid playmaking from the frontcourt. However, he’s not a great athlete and doesn’t rebound well, so it’s tough to envision him as a stretch-4 defensively in the NBA.