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NBA Summer League: Buyer’s Remorse?
Posted By Derek Page On July 24, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA Summer League | No Comments
The NBA Summer League is a place where unseasoned newcomers to the NBA come to hone their talents against similarly capable competition. Top picks with immense pressure to produce match up against each other and also are pitted against journeymen just looking to prove they belong in the NBA.
Some players, like Damian Lillard and Josh Selby among others, relish the opportunity and demonstrate that they can produce or even excel against a collection of their peers. For others, the proving ground is harsh and their respective teams begin to realize just how much work is going to have to go into developing these players.
The jury is still out on pedigreed players still in their early 20′s and this is not an indictment of what their NBA careers may or may not end up being. That being said, here’s a list of some notable young guys who weren’t able to distinguish themselves in the 2012 NBA Summer League:
Derrick Williams (2nd overall pick, 2011 – Minnesota Timberwolves)
Although he averaged 15.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest, Williams struggled to find his shot, making only 35 percent of his field goals. On top of that, Williams simply played sloppy basketball and turned the ball over frequently in five games with 3.4 giveaways per contest. Efficiency was not the big man’s strong suit as he also jacked up 16 three-pointers in five games, making just two at a 12.5 percent clip.
In Minnesota’s final summer league contest Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies, Williams made just 1 of 10 shots and was a non-factor, with more turnovers (2) than his lone rebound in the T-Wolves’ victory. The Timberwolves continue to have high hopes for the 6’8 forward going into his second NBA season, but this summer was not the best showing for Williams – despite what his scoring average suggested.
Dion Waiters (4th overall pick, 2012 – Cleveland Cavaliers)
Already viewed as somewhat of a reach as a top-five selection in this year’s draft by Cleveland, Waiters did little to prove his critics wrong with the Cavs’ summer league team. In three games (two starts), Waiters averaged just 12.3 points per contest on a woeful 30 percent shooting.
Waiters averaged 30 minutes per contest, yet averaged no more than three assists or rebounds per game and turned the ball over 3.2 times an outing. Of the four top-5 picks that played in the 2012 NBA Summer League, Waiters was the least effective for his new squad.
Jan Vesely (6th overall pick, 2011 – Washington Wizards)
Although he shot 50 percent from the field, the second-year player averaged just 9.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per contest this summer.
Defensively,Vesely continued to play more with his hands than by moving his feet on a consistent basis and picked up a whopping 27 fouls in four complete summer league games. Adding injury to insult, Vesely rolled his ankle just two minutes in to the Wizards’ fifth and final game of summer league play.
With Andray Blatche amnestied and out of the fold, Vesely had an opportunity to prove he could be the first big man off the bench for the Wizards and may have blown it.
Terrence Ross (8th overall, 2012 – Toronto Raptors)
A surprise to many after being taken in the top-10 of this year’s draft, Ross went into the NBA Summer League trying to prove his doubters wrong and that he was indeed worthy of the eighth overall pick. To be just, Ross did score over 21 points in two summer league contests, although it took an average of 18 shot attempts to get there in each contest.
Overall, Ross proved that he’s capable of putting up points by averaging almost 14.5 per, but efficiency in getting those totals was an issue. Ross made only 37 percent of his shots in summer league, was 6-24 behind the arc and finished by making only 2 of 8 baskets in the Raptors’ summer league finale.
Austin Rivers (10th overall pick, 2012 – New Orleans Hornets)
In two games in the NBA Summer League, Rivers showed there’s plenty of work to be done as he tries to learn the point guard position. So far, the results have not been satisfactory. In 32 minutes per outing, Rivers scored 10 points on an abysmal 21 percent shooting and averaged nearly as many turnovers (3) as assists (3.5). On the defensive end, Rivers had trouble hanging with his competition and was forced to commit a total of 11 fouls in those two contests.
In all fairness, Rivers deserves some slack here. At 19 years old, Rivers is in the process of learning to play the most difficult position on the floor and was without his biggest asset going into next season in first overall pick Anthony Davis.
Cole Aldrich (11th overall pick, 2010 – Oklahoma City Thunder)
Fighting for a role as the number two center on the Thunder roster, Aldrich might have positioned himself as the third-string center in Oklahoma City behind newly signed Hasheem Thabeet. Over four starts in the Orlando Summer League, Aldrich cracked double digits just once and finished with pedestrian averages of 5 points (40 percent shooting) and 6.5 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per.
Kendall Marshall (13th overall pick, 2012 – Phoenix Suns)
Another point guard looking to find his way, Marshall had his share of ups and downs over the last few weeks. In four contests, Marshall made just 31 percent of his shots and averaged just seven points and 6.5 assists. The first three games were even more brutal, with Marshall making just 5 of 25 shots (0-8 from deep) for a total of 13 points to go along with 10 turnovers.
The good news for Marshall is that he finished strong and proved that he was starting to get it at the point guard position. With 15 points (6-10 from the field on 3-4 from behind the three-point arc) and 10 dimes on Saturday, Marshall was able to leave Las Vegas with a more optimistic view than he would have just a few days before.
Fab Melo (21st overall pick, 2012 – Boston Celtics)
Playing in both the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, Melo proved that his game needs plenty of polish before he can compete at the NBA-level. Over his first five games, Melo averaged just 1.8 points on 29 percent shooting and grabbed 4.8 boards.
Melo played better in his final five games (three starts) in Vegas, bumping his shooting percentage up to 53 percent and scoring a few more points per contest for the C’s. Foul trouble also wasn’t an issue with Melo, racking up under 2.5 personals per in 10 total games.
There’s little doubt that Melo is a work in progress and Boston hopes the experience this summer will benefit the seven-footer when training camp rolls around in September.
Marquis Teague (29th overall pick, 2012 – Chicago Bulls)
In his first action against NBA-level competition, Teague struggled to find any type of rhythm over the course of the last few weeks. The 19-year-old point guard out of Kentucky shot just 29 percent over five summer league starts and averaged more turnovers (3.8) per game than assists (3).
Teague did average double-digits in scoring (10.6 points per) this summer, but it’s evident that the Bulls first-round pick needs plenty of seasoning before he can compete on the NBA stage.
Festus Ezeli (30th overall pick, 2012 – Golden State Warriors)
The final pick of the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, Ezeli has proven to be a project early on with Golden State. Over the course of five games, all starts, Ezeli had trouble getting into any type of rhythm offensively and was shut out in two of those five contests during summer league play.
With both Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins entrenched in front of him in the Warriors’ rotation at center, Ezeli will have quality veterans to learn from and plenty of time to ready his NBA game.
For most of these players, getting their first taste of NBA Summer League action was a humbling experience. Learning from the knowledge gained over the past few weeks is going to be the key in terms of proving themselves to their new squads.
Being ready to compete in training camp and subsequently contend for a spot in the rotation are goals that are going to depend on these players learning from their summer league mistakes.
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