The first day of Orlando Summer League has come and gone with some fanfare and lots of ugly basketball. Let’s take a look at some of the stand-out performances and some of the other less than stellar ones:
Orlando Summer League: Day One
Game 1: Nets 101, Pacers 81
Mason Plumlee, 23 points on 8-11 shooting, 7 rebounds
Plumlee dominated from the opening tip in Orlando against the Pacers, using his athleticism to both get out and run the floor as well as get to the free throw line. Basically, Plumlee is a man amongst boys here, and should be expected to dominate in whatever games he plays.
Marquis Teague: 14 points on 4/11 shooting, 6 assists, 3 turnovers
Teague still hasn’t quite figured out how to play under control, but this is an excellent setting for his quickness to shine. He got into the paint when he wanted, and set up three separate lay-ins or dunks with dump offs and good passes. Shooting and turnovers will continue to be a concern for him as he battles Jorge Gutierrez for the backup point guard role.
Jorge Gutierrez: 8 points on 3-6 shooting, 3 assists, 0 turnovers
Gutierrez was the more steady of the two Nets’ point guards, and the Nets excelled with him on the floor more so than with Teague. He defended the opposing Pacers’ ball-handlers well, and played a solid game by not turning the ball over. In my opinion, he looked a bit better than Teague but that’s not surprising given the age difference between the two.
Donald Sloan: 21 points on 6-15 shooting, 3 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Sloan got into the paint at will, but didn’t get any help from his Pacers’ teammates today. He looked like he was a step ahead of everyone on their team despite the poor shooting.
Everyone else on the Pacers: 16-45 from the field, 25% from three-point range, 6 assists, 16 turnovers, 24 personal fouls
Let’s just never speak of this performance again.
Game 2: Celtics 85, Heat 77
Marcus Smart: 10 points on 2-8 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals, 1 turnover
Smart did everything well but shoot the ball. He caused problems on defense for the Heat guards (especially Shabazz Napier who we’ll get to in a second), and showed off the athleticism that we expected by getting to the line eight times in 27 minutes. If he can get a game where his shot is falling, this is a perfect atmosphere for him to go off.
Kelly Olynyk: 20 points on 8-17 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 6 turnovers
I don’t know what it is about Orlando and Summer League, but it tends to bring out the best in Olynyk. He showed off an array of offensive moves, including knocking down a three-pointer and using his solid ball-handling to drive into the lane for lay-ups against the Miami bigs. The question for Olynyk is just whether or not he can translate his diverse array of offensive moves into NBA games instead of games here.
Mike Moser: 17 points on 6-11 shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Moser showed why he was one of my favorite undrafted prospects, and one that is most likely to make a roster this season. He went 3-6 from behind the three point arc, with good catch-and-shoot mechanics and NBA range. It’s also worth mentioning that he worked hard on the defensive end and forced some turnovers. Out of all of the undrafted prospects in today’s games, Moser is the one who probably helped himself most towards making the NBA.
Shabazz Napier: 12 points on 3-15 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 8 turnovers
Napier was probably the most destructive player in any game today, forcing the issue on offense and looking a bit lost on defense. The length that the Celtics put in front of him really bothered both his jump shooting and his ability to finish at the rim. It also forced him into making terrible decisions with the ball, and that caused the eight turnovers. Basically, Napier did not look like he belonged on the same floor as the Celtics did today. Look for him to try to rectify that the rest of the week.
James Ennis: 18 points on 5-11 shooting, 8 rebounds
Ennis did look solid today though, and played really well for the Heat. He knocked down both of the three-pointers he took and definitely looks the part both with this size and athleticism. Ennis’s best chance to make the NBA is as a 3 and D guy, so the key for him will be continuing to knock down open looks as they’re presented to him.
Game 3: Magic 83, 76ers 77
Aaron Gordon: 7 points on 3-11 shooting, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Gordon is a pretty good example of why you can’t only look at stat lines in Summer League. He looked every bit the part of an NBA player out there, causing tons of problems defensively and showing off a little bit of offensive versatility. He really can’t shoot, so that’s the biggest thing he’ll need to improve upon. Oh, also he did this:
Is it too soon to call this block by Aaron Gordon the best of the Summer League? https://t.co/W3DhQiSzl4
— The Traveling Crab (@crabdribbles) July 5, 2014
Victor Oladipo: 18 points on 6-11 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
I’m not entirely sure why Oladipo is here. He and Nerlens Noel were the two best players on the floor in Orlando today. He wrecked people defensively, got into the lane with his improved ball-handling skills, and knocked down three pointers with a confident stroke. My guess is that he doesn’t play every game this week.
Elfrid Payton: 2 points on 1-4 shooting, 5 assists, 4 turnovers
Payton was largely invisible today, which is a surprise given his athletic gifts. I can’t remember an example of him getting into the lane in order to break down the defense, and Aaron Craft caused a lot of problems for him on the perimeter by forcing him into turnovers. I imagine that he’ll probably try to insert himself more into the next game.
Nerlens Noel: 19 points, 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 7-7 FTs
Holy crap, Nerlens Noel didn’t lose a step from his ACL surgery. He was out there doing exactly what was expected of him. Destroying pick-and-rolls on defense with reckless abandon, attacking the rim with his quick first step, and causing problems in the paint with his length, Noel was absolutely the most impressive player on the floor in this game despite the fact that he only grabbed two rebounds. I’m excited to watch more of him.
Pierre Jackson: torn right Achilles
Jackson tore his Achilles tendon on a rather innocuous play and will now miss a majority of the 2014-15 season, if not all of it. This is doubly disappointing, because Jackson was on a non-guaranteed deal that will undoubtedly not be picked up. I can’t help but wish Pierre all but the best in his recovery, as he truly deserved a call-up last season after dominating the D-League.
Casper Ware: 16 points on 4-11 shooting, 2 assists and 6 turnovers
In Jackson’s absence, Ware showed that he can score but that’s about it. He forced the issue all night and turned the ball over with regularity. As much as I love Ware and think he’s fun to watch, he did nothing to show that he’s improved enough to deserve a roster spot this season with his non-guaranteed deal.
Aaron Craft: ALL OF THE HEART AND MOTOR THAT WE LOVE AT UPSIDE AND MOTOR
Craft actually looked the part today, causing all sorts of problems defensively for Payton and Seth Curry. Offensively, he wasn’t a disaster but didn’t get much dribble penetration when he tried. Maybe bringing Craft in isn’t as ridiculous as some people thought it was.
K.J. McDaniels: 9 points on 4-8 shooting, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 1 rebound
Basically he just showed the athleticism that was expected of him defensively. I legitimately expect him to get quite a few minutes on the Sixers this season with that explosiveness.
Game 4: Pistons 95, Rockets 89
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 26 points on 8-19 shooting, 6 steals, 5 rebounds
Caldwell-Pope looked like a totally different player in summer league than he did this season. He looked really comfortable handling the ball, and consistently curled well off of screens into the midrange for jump shots. This looked like the player that the Pistons drafted 8th overall, and he looked like a potential starter for the Pistons this season.
Peyton Siva: 16 points on 4-8 shooting, 6 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers
Siva also was a lot more comfortable than he ever looked last season, consistently making plays, breaking down the defense, and getting into the paint. It’s all about the offense as far as Siva is concerned. His defensive intensity will always be there, but he has to develop into a steady, care-taking point guard on the offensive end in order to become a rotation NBA player. Today was the first step towards that.
Tim Ohlbrecht: 11 points on 4-4 shooting, 5 rebounds
Ohlbrecht asserted himself in the paint and was efficient in his scoring opportunities. He didn’t get a chance to show off his decent midrange game, however he did show improved toughness in the paint and grabbed some difficult offensive rebounds. In my opinion, he’s still someone that could probably make way more money overseas than he could in the USA, but today he did look the part of an NBA player.
Nick Johnson: 18 points on 7-14 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers
Johnson was the most impressive player on the floor in this game outside of Caldwell-Pope’s offensive onslaught. He got to show off his athleticism, made a couple of three-pointers, and did well to get into the lane. It’s also worth mentioning he did this:
Chris Crawford: 20 points on 8-13 shooting
Crawford showed a little bit more wiggle with his dribble than I ever saw from him at Memphis, getting into the lane for floaters and lay-ups on his way to 20 points. He also made three three-pointers, which was his collegiate calling card. My guess is that he regresses back to earth in their next game, but he definitely looked the part today for the Rockets.
Tarik Black: 12 points on 5-9 shooting, 7 rebounds, 1 block
Black used his energy and immense athleticism to cause some havoc in the paint offensively, getting two dunks off of drives and a couple of lay-ups. This could have been an even more impressive game had he been able to convert a couple of offensive rebounds into buckets. Overall, Black’s still an undersized center prospect with no range, but his energy shone through today.
Game 5: Grizzlies 84, Thunder 63
Jordan Adams: 22 points on 5-12 shooting, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals
Now this is one way to start a career. By far the most impressive 2014 draft pick of the day, Adams showed off his versatile offensive game by knocking down jump shots — including four three-pointers — and getting into paint and drawing fouls. He also utilized his long wingspan to force four steals, which was another one of his collegiate calling cards. I wasn’t as high on Adams as a lot of people were coming into the draft, but if any of this ends up being real — especially the ability to draw fouls, which is what most impressed me today as opposed to the shooting — when the actual games start, the Grizzlies got a steal in Adams.
Scottie Wilbekin: 0 points, 5 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal
Wilbekin was the beneficiary of Adams’ hot shooting, connecting with him for three of his five assists. Both the offense and the defense looked a bit better when Wilbekin was in the game handling the ball, although that simply may be a function of Adams’ hot game and the ability to set up their defense after made buckets. Regardless, I liked what I saw out of the undrafted Wilbekin today.
Jamaal Franklin: 10 points on 2-8 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals
Franklin was also a defensive terror for the Grizzlies today, using his length to force five turnovers and crash in for the same number of rebounds. He also knocked down two threes, which is the biggest key to his development as a perimeter player. This wasn’t a perfect game, as he did get blocked a few times, but Franklin has a lot of potential defensively if he can get that hitch-y jumper figured out.
Jeremy Lamb: 14 points on 4-12 shooting, including 1-7 from 3PT, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers
To exemplify how Adams played, let’s look at Lamb. Had Lamb knocked down two more of those three-pointers, as his shooting ability would state he’d be likely to, we’d be talking about how awesome he played as well as how Adams played. That’s how fickle these Summer League games can be, and they should be treated as such. I don’t think Lamb played great today, but in games where there is no defense, crazy things can happen.
Perry Jones III: 15 points on 5-7 shooting, 6 rebounds
Jones looked like he is ready to start contributing for the Thunder this season, knocking in both of his three point attempts, showing increased defensive skill on the perimeter, and getting to the rim twice for dunks. This was the most impressed I’ve ever been with Jones. He played within himself, let the buckets come to him, and played the role that was asked of him. With Thabo Sefolosha having left, it’s possible that Jones could see some time this season at the 3.
Rest of the Thunder: 11-32 for 34% shooting from the field, 6 assists, 22 turnovers, 44 points.
I might vomit.