NBA teams find value in Summer League
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
ORLANDO — The objective, growing in importance for NBA teams in a more restrictive financial environment, is finding value — productive players at affordable salaries — late in the first round and second round of the draft.
Teams want players who can step in quickly and contribute without the pressure of being the star. Think Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Miami’s Norris Cole — non-lottery picks selected by teams ready to win now.
The Indiana Pacers believe they have found their guy in forward Solomon Hill, the No. 23 pick from Arizona, and the Detroit Pistons may have their version in wing Tony Mitchell, selected No. 37 in the second round.
Both have been impressive during the NBA’s Orlando Summer League, which concludes Friday just as the Las Vegas Summer League begins. This is just summer league, so no need to get overly excited. But promise exists.
“I’m a guy who can do something in every category,” Hill said. “I might not go out there and get 20 points, but I’m going to try and get as many rebounds as I can and find as many open guys as I can and probe the lane, get a couple of bounce passes to teammates. Find guys in the corner. Get a couple of steals.
“I want to get everybody involved. I’m a guy who can bring a little bit of everything to the table.”
That’s exactly the mentality the Pacers want. Indiana, which took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals, has featured players who can score. It needs depth and role players.
The 6-7 Hill played at Arizona last season, which was strong at the forward spot. He averaged just 13.4 points — not eye-popping numbers. But the Pacers did their homework and found out Hill did what Arizona coach Sean Miller wanted.
The Pacers discovered he can rebound, play in transition, finish at the rim and shoot three-pointers. Synergy Sports rated Hill an excellent offensive player in transition and a very good three-point shooter based on points per possession. He made 4-of-5 threes on Tuesday, showing his ability to … [For more on NBA teams finding value in Summer League players, click here.]