Las Vegas Summer League Day 1: Studs, Duds
The Las Vegas Summer League is underway. Because the lockout canceled last year’s event, many first- and second-year players made their Summer League debut on Friday afternoon. Some players rose to the occasion and showed why their teams have invested money and time into them. Other players struggled and didn’t make the most of their opportunity. While Summer League games can be competitive, the wins and losses don’t matter nearly as much as the individual performances. Signed players are trying to impress coaches and earn a spot in the rotation while unsigned players are trying to display their skill set and steal someone’s job.
Here are the players who shined and who struggled on day one in Las Vegas:
Donatas Motiejunas, Houston Rockets – The 20th overall pick in last year’s draft put on a show during his Summer League debut. Motiejunas was the best player to take the court on Friday, finishing with 25 points on 11-13 shooting as well as nine rebounds, two steals and one block. Motiejunas had the highest point total of the day and good things happened when the ball was in his hands. The Houston Rockets are currently pursuing Dwight Howard and attempting to put together an attractive offer for the Orlando Magic. Motiejunas certainly improved his trade value on Friday afternoon.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors – After a successful rookie season, the Warriors wanted to see Thompson dominate the Summer League competition and solidify himself as one of the best players in Las Vegas. That’s exactly what he did on day one. Thompson did whatever he wanted on offense, finishing with 24 points on 9-13 shooting. He also contributed six rebounds and five assists. Thompson formed an excellent one-two punch with sixth overall pick Harrison Barnes, which is exactly what Golden State’s fans wanted to see. Thompson’s numbers would’ve been even better, but he only played 22 minutes since the Warriors won their game by 40 points.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats – Who said Kidd-Gilchrist can’t score the ball? On Friday, the second overall pick led the Bobcats to a 121-87 blowout win over the Sacramento Kings. Kidd-Gilchrist was all over the court, making his presence felt on both ends of the court. He filled the stat sheet, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. He looked very comfortable getting out in transition and his jump shot, which was criticized throughout the pre-draft process, looked good. When the defense gave him space, he didn’t hesitate to shoot the ball and make them pay. While some rookies were nervous or hesitant to take over in their Summer League debut, Kidd-Gilchrist looked like a man among boys.
Chris Singleton, Washington Wizards – Entering the Wizards’ first game, all eyes were on Brad Beal. While the third overall pick played well and finished with 22 points, it was Singleton who had the more efficient, productive game. The second-year player contributed 20 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks. He’s working to improve his range and he knocked down a few jump shots. However, it was his activity on defense that lands him on this list. He was getting blocks and steals left and right, creating many of Washington’s transition opportunities. Singleton looked great on day one, contributing on both ends of the court.
Ed Davis, Toronto Raptors – Terrence Ross had 21 points and several highlight-reel plays, but Davis represents the Raptors on the stud list because he filled the stat sheet and dominated down low. Davis finished with 18 points on 7-12 shooting, eight rebounds and three blocks. The third-year player also displayed leadership, offering advice and words of encouragement to rookie teammates Ross and Quincy Acy. Davis was very impressive on day one and, paired with Ross, the Raptors have a nice inside-outside game.
Keith Benson, Atlanta Hawks – Benson’s 19 points on 9-12 shooting led the Hawks to their 102-82 blowout win over the Washington Wizards. Benson was able to score in the post against Washington, making them pay every time he got position down low. John Jenkins was impressive as well, chipping in 19 points of his own. However, Benson cleaned the glass and defended well, which is why he makes the list of studs.
Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings – Fredette is one of the players who should be dominating in Las Vegas. Not only does he have a year of experience under his belt, he had the ball in his hands on many of Sacramento’s possessions and was given every opportunity to take over. Instead of lighting up the Charlotte Bobcats, Fredette struggled to get going offensively, finishing with just seven points on 2-11 shooting. He missed all eight of his three-point attempts. Fredette struggled defensively as well, picking up five fouls. The second-year guard was a big reason that Sacramento got blown out by Charlotte.
Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards – While Vesely had several exciting dunks, he could’ve been more productive on day one. He finished with just 11 points and four rebounds, and his poor decision-making hurt the Wizards. Vesely was clearly outmatched on defense, picking up 10 fouls in 30 minutes. Luckily for Vesely, players can’t foul out in the Summer League. Still, he kept sending the Hawks to the line, which allowed them to build their big lead and ultimately win the game by20 points. Vesely needs to contribute more offensively and show some restraint on the defensive end.
Jeremy Tyler, Golden State Warriors – Tyler wasn’t awful on day one, but he wasn’t a significant contributor either. He finished with six points on 2-6 shooting. The biggest issue was Tyler’s decision making. He kept settling for contested jump shots and making the wrong play on offense. Tyler was forcing shots and trying to do too much rather than making the smart play. He also picked up three fouls in 16 minutes, which is a concern. He didn’t play very much on day one because Golden State won convincingly. In game two, Tyler needs to step his game up.
Scott Machado, Houston Rockets – After Machado wasn’t selected in the 2012 NBA Draft, experts labeled the Iona point guard as the best undrafted free agent available and many teams extended Summer League invites to him. Machado, playing with the Rockets, wasn’t very impressive on day one. Machado’s camp said he went undrafted because he wasn’t able to display his point guard skills during individual workouts and insisted that he’d be fine once put into a five-on-five game. However, on Friday, Machado went 1-6 from the field and finished with just two points. While he had five assists, he also had a game-high four turnovers, which isn’t what the Rockets wanted to see from the facilitator.
Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers were embarrassed by the Golden State Warriors, losing by 40 points even after the Warriors rested their starters for much of the second half. Christian Eyenga struggled, finishing with eight points on 2-8 shooting as well as seven turnovers and four fouls. Darius Morris couldn’t find his shot, finishing 3-11 from the field. Andrew Goudelock led the team with 14 points, but he was inefficient as well, missing 10 of his 15 attempts. Darius Johnson-Odom was 0-8 from the field and struggled to contribute. It wasn’t pretty for the Lakers. They shot 27.1 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from the field while letting the Warriors do whatever they wanted on offense.