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 first team on our list?
Detroit Pistons Summer League roster
It should be noted that Andre Drummond wanted to play on the Pistons’ summer league team, but it looks like Stan Van Gundy talked him out of it. Drummond most likely would have dropped something like a 30-30 line every summer league game, so I assume that most other big men in Orlando are happy he won’t be present. What about everyone else on the Pistons’ roster?
Spencer Dinwiddie, G: Dinwiddie will not actually play in Orlando, as he’s still recovering from an ACL tear suffered on January 12th. He was the Pistons’ only draft selection after losing their lottery pick to the Hornets in the misguided Ben Gordon-Corey Maggette trade. Dinwiddie though is a nice consolation prize. He likes to have the ball in his hands a lot, but he’s a solid shooter, ball-handler, and creator for others.
Players Under Contract
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG: Caldwell-Pope struggled through his rookie year after being the 8th overall pick in 2013. After being known for his shooting/scoring ability at Georgia, he only shot 39% from the field, including 32% from three-point range and 32% from the midrange. He wasn’t particularly used well last season, but Caldwell-Pope never really showed much that said he deserved to play last season. Given that he’ll be looked upon to help space the floor under Van Gundy’s offense, these percentages must improve, and Orlando is the perfect place to start that.
Peyton Siva, PG: Siva had an even worse rookie season than Caldwell-Pope, shooting 32% from the floor and struggling to initiate offense. I think he’s a much better fit under Van Gundy than the old Pistons’ staff, but his roster spot is definitely in question depending on how the rest of the offseason goes for the Pistons (their offer to Isaiah Thomas probably interests Siva greatly). Look for him to come out with a high level of intensity in Orlando.
Tony Mitchell, PF: Mitchell is an explosive power forward that only played 79 minutes last year in the NBA. In limited minutes in both the D-League and NBA last year, Mitchell showed off a penchant for rebounding and strong athleticism that point to potential on the defensive end. My guess is that he’s not in any particular danger of missing the team, as he’s someone that you should continue to develop in order to see what you can make of him.
Former NBA Players
DeAndre Liggins, SF: Liggins is a 26-year-old potential “3 and D” player whose NBA prospects depend on his shot. He won the D-League Defensive Player of the Year award last season for his ability to lock down multiple positions. However, his three-point shooting regressed. There are also some character question marks with Liggins that can’t be ignored, but he’s probably a strong enough defender to find a way onto an NBA roster next year.
Justin Harper, PF: Harper is a stretch-4 prospect that played in 14 games for the Magic in 2012 and plied his trade in Israel last season. He’s one of those guys that’s really good in theory and useful when he’s knocking down shots, but ultimately doesn’t have any other NBA-level skills. He probably will be on a training camp roster somewhere, but probably will be in Europe again next year.
Damion James, SF: James has played a handful of games in the NBA for each of the last four seasons, but nothing more than that. It’s worth mentioning he’s played well in the D-League each of the past two seasons, but he might be one of those — to steal a major league baseball term — “AAAA” guys who are right in-between being end-of-the-bench guys in the NBA and stars in the D-League. If he could get legitimate three-point range, that would largely increase his chances of making it.
Tim Ohlbrecht, C: After getting into three games for the Rockets in 2013, Ohlbrecht has plied his trade in the D-League since. A formerly big European prospect, he’s a bruising German that has tried to extend his range out to the three point line to no avail. He’s probably not an NBA-level athlete, unfortunately, and would probably be better off going to Europe where he can make legitimate money.
Jordan Heath, C/PF: Heath averaged 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game for Canisius this season. With a 6’10, 240 lb frame with solid length, he’s more of a project and someone that you just check out to see if he’s developable. There’s probably not much here though from an NBA perspective.
Markel Starks, G: Starks is an undersized combo-guard that can shoot and score, but that’s about it. His playmaking skill probably isn’t up to snuff for the NBA as a point guard, and his size will put him at a significant disadvantage on off-guards. However, he’ll probably be able to ply his trade in the D-League for a while if he so chooses.
Ian Miller, G: Miller is another shoot-first point guard that shot 40% from three his senior season. He’s 6’2, but has a 6’7 wingspan, meaning he has some defensive potential. However, he’s not much of an offense initiator and only a shooter. Think of a less-consistent, less defensively inclined Ian Clark. He might be able to stick in the D-League for a while, though.
Tristan Spurlock, G/F: Spurlock is one of those jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type players. He scored 11 points, grabbed 5.5 rebounds, dished out 1.2 assists, and got 1 steal and 1 block per game last year for Central Florida. He just doesn’t do any one thing well though for an NBA team to be impressed with.
Non-rookie, non-NBA players
David Lighty, G/F: I’m admittedly biased here, as Lighty is the nicest human being I’ve ever talked to and I’ll never root for another player to make it in the NBA as much as I’ll root for him. But I really see potential for an NBA player here. He’s an excellent defender that knows his role on offense, is willing to move the ball, and knocks down three-pointers. I think that eventually he’ll be on a roster somewhere. Whether or not it’s the Pistons, who knows.
Christian Watford, F: Watford is most well-known for knocking down a buzzer-beater against the Anthony Davis-Kentucky Wildcats to end their undefeated season. Basically, that’s what Watford does. He’s a 6’8 stretch-forward who knocks down three-pointers. I like him and Lighty more than any of the undrafted rookies and former NBA players, outside of maybe Liggins.
Wait, is that Brian Cook? Like…THAT Brian Cook?
Brian Cook, PF: Yes, yes indeed it is that Brian Cook. The 33-year-old nine-year veteran who hasn’t played in the league since 2012 is in Orlando trying to get back with his former coach Van Gundy. If he makes the Pistons based on talent and not just as a locker room guy, they’re in serious trouble next season.