There are twenty-four teams competing in Las Vegas Summer League, 23 NBA teams and the always wonderful D-League Select team. The rosters filled with lottery picks, journeymen, the occasional hanger-on (Chris Smith anybody?) and blasts from the past, 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 Las Vegas by giving about 30-50 words on each player and letting you know how legitimate their NBA chances are.
Milwaukee Bucks Summer League roster
Jabari Parker, F: The number 2 overall pick out of Duke, Parker is billed as the most “NBA-ready” of the top picks in this years draft. As such, Summer League is an opportunity for him to show this readiness, especially offensively. Pace of play, often the downfall of rookies in this environment, is one of Parker’s strengths, so his ability to stay composed and unhurried with the ball will be something to look for. On the other end, many of the questions surrounding Parker relate to his conditioning and overall aestheticism especially as it relates to his defensive ability. And no pressure since his first appearance will likely see him match up extensively with Andrew Wiggins. Johnny O’Bryant, F: O’Bryant is an athletic power forward with both he size and skill to make it in the NBA, despite being a second rounder. He sometimes commits cheap fouls and his basketball sense tends to leave something to be desired, but it will be interesting to see him matched up against the longer front lines that he rarely got to face at LSU in the SEC.
Players Under Contract
Giannis Antetokunmpo, Everything: Let’s be honest, there probably isn’t a player at LVSL that people are more excited to see show out than “the Greek Freak.” His marvelous physical skills and seemingly limitless potential have sort of obscured the fact that his rookie production was quite spotty across multiple areas. So while wowing the crowd will certainly be welcomed, Bucks fans should hope to see discernible improvements in ball-handling, shooting and defense from year 1. Basically, has he started to develop something like a defined game or NBA skill set? Nate Wolters, G: Is he a point? Is he a two? Perhaps if the Bucks plan for him to share the court with similarly tweenerish Brandon Knight it doesn’t really matter. Wolters clearly proved he belong in the league, with his surprising defense and playmaking. One of his main drawbacks was poor shooting (not unsurprising, considering he was much more of a scorer than a shooter entering the league to begin with.) While Summer League isn’t always the greatest showcase of true shooting ability, displaying a confident stroke with some improvement in results would be a nice result for Wolters. Chris Wright, G: Wright, a small forward out of Dayton, is entering his 4th pro season. He’s had a few cups of coffee in the NBA, first with the Warriors in 11/12 and then last year in with the Bucks. Though he’s only played 312 minutes of NBA action, he’s performed reasonably well putting up a 17.7 PER on .589 TS% in those minutes. He has a non-guaranteed contract with the Bucks for just over $900k this season, so he’s hoping to demonstrate he’s worthy of a roster spot in the suddenly very crowded wing spot. One area where he could help himself is by improving his rebounding. A double digit rebounder in the D-league, Wright was sub-par on this front last year for the Bucks.
Former NBA Players
JaJuan Johnson, PF: A former first round pick (#27 in 2011) out of Purdue, Johnson showed little in his one NBA season. Undersized to be a 5 at only around 220 pounds on his 6’10 frame and not quick or skilled-enough to play away from the basket, Johnson’s main selling point is a pogo stick-like ability to protect the rim, which he showed in blocking 1.5 shots per game in his one season in Serie A with Pistoia. Still Johnson has bounced from the D-League to Italy, to China and on to Turkey. He might demonstrate enough to get a camp invite as a tall, athletic body, but making it far in camp or even sticking with the main roster is the longest of long shots.
Ben Brust SG: A hometown addition for the Bucks from the University of Wisconsin, Brust averaged 12 ppg on 39% 3 point-shooting over his two years as a mainstay for the Badgers. That kind of shooting stroke always gives a player an outside chance, but at only 6’1 with no real point guard skills or off the bounce game to speak of, Brust is realistically looking to impress European scouts where his pure shooting ability will serve him in better stead.
Non-rookie, non-NBA players
Jordan Taylor: Another former Badger, Taylor has plied his trade in Italy with Roma for the last two seasons after graduating from UW. At only 6’0 and with a questionable outside shot, Taylor is here to make up the numbers rather than possess any realistic hope of an NBA spot. C.J. Williams, G: A classic tweener out of N.C. State (finishing his career there in 2012), Williams shot the heck out of the ball for Los Angeles in the D-League last year. But his overall production was greatly outstripped by players like Manny Harris and Shawne Williams, themselves unable to stick in the NBA. Kenny Kadji, PF: Kadji is a stretch-4/5 prospect that can knock down three pointers and defend, but unfortunately doesn’t do much else. However, given the way that the NBA is going, that could be enough. His age is a hindrance given that he went undrafted in the 2013 draft (he’s already 26), but there is potential for him to make an impact. Gilbert Brown G/F: Another tweener (summer league, where tweeners get their moments in the sun) out of Pitt, Brown is the type of player who might bullyball his way to decent numbers in summer league against younger and less phyically mature opposition, while never really showing any true NBA skill level. Kenny Frease, C: A big load (7’0, 275) out of Xavier, Frease has been playing the German league, without enough distinction to really threaten an NBA camp invite, let alone roster spot. Still he’s a big body who can set screens for the rest of the Bucks and provide a useful test for opponents in terms of playing against legit size. He’s probably best known at this point for being the guy that Yancy Gates nearly ended.