Orlando Summer League Day 1: Studs, Duds
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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After a two-year hiatus summer league action finally resumed in Orlando with eight teams taking the court at the Amway Center. Summer league isn’t about wins and losses. While the players always want to win, the real importance in this camp is in the exposure and experience that they get. For young players with guaranteed contracts it’s a great chance for them to get a head start on learning their system and what their coaches want for them. For unsigned veterans it’s an opportunity to play in front of front office personnel from every team in hopes of earning a roster spot. Here’s a look at who made the most of day one and who didn’t in our studs and duds series that will continue throughout the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues.
Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic, Power Forward)
Labeled as one of the most pro-ready players in the 2012 NBA Draft, Nicholson lived up to the billing with 24 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks against the Brooklyn Nets. He showcased the same low post skills that made him a star at St. Bonaventure’s. His strong showing could not have come at a better time as the Magic just opted against matching an offer sheet for New-Orleans bound Ryan Anderson, leaving a void at the power forward position. Nicholson looked ready to fill it on Monday and will have plenty of opportunities the rest of the week to make his case for a significant role his rookie season.
Carleton Scott (Brooklyn Nets, Small Forward)
The former Notre Dame product who has since played in Spain and Austria was very active on both ends of the floor. He impressed all the scouts and general managers in attendance with his three-point shooting and defensive instincts. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds and three steals, giving him an early edge to potentially earn an invite to training camp.
Jared Sullinger (Boston Celtics, Power Forward)
It took Sullinger a half to get himself going as he preferred to get his teammates involved and settle for jump shots in the first two quarters. Then in the second half he played like the player who dominated college basketball the last two years.
Sullinger was noticeably more aggressive later in the game, attacking the basket hard on several different occasions with great success. Then, when they started to play off of him, he made them pay with his jumper. He finished with 20 points and six rebounds, which isn’t too shabby for the 21st pick in the draft.
Kyle O’Quinn (Orlando Magic, Power Forward)
Nicholson wasn’t the only rookie big man who shined for the Magic. O’Quinn was almost equally impressive, shooting 8-10 from the field en route to a 16-point game. He also contributed four rebounds and two blocks. For a Magic team that is reportedly looking to stockpile young, talented players, O’Quinn earned strong consideration with his opening-day performance.
Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons, Point Guard)
Although Knight didn’t have his best shooting game (4-11 FG), he clearly stood head and shoulders above the competition, which is what you would hope for from you second-year guard. Knight’s speed and ball-handling ability were on full display. Knowing that it wasn’t his best shooting game, Knight forced his way to the free throw line 14 times. He finished with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists. He only turned it over twice and was clearly the leader out on the floor for the Pistons.
MarShon Brooks (Brooklyn Nets)
With how hot and heavy the trade talk involving him is Brooks had to think there was a chance he would have to switch jerseys at halftime when going up against the Magic. Pegged as one of the top players to watch here, Brooks struggled mightily in game one. He shot 0-10 from the field and 0-3 from deep. His three points all came at the free throw line. It was just one of those games where Brooks couldn’t buy a bucket. Considering how strong of a rookie season he had, it’s hard not to think all the rumors are weighing on Brooks and serving as a big distraction.
Fab Melo (Boston Celtics, Center)
As Sullinger stood out and put up big numbers, Melo virtually blended in. It’s not overly surprising since this was Melo’s first true 5-on-5 action since March 9th. Melo admitted that the speed and physicality of the game were tough to adjust to. He tallied a lackluster two points, two rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes, but should be better the rest of the week since he knows what to expect now.
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder, Center)
For a team like the Thunder that prides themselves in drafting well, there has to be a growing concern that they missed with Aldrich. With two years of experience under his belt, he should dominate in this setting. He played all but nine minutes against the Celtics and thoroughly underwhelmed with one point, seven rebounds, one assist and a block. With Perry Jones III and Hasheem Thabeet joining the team, Aldrich could be playing his way out of the Thunder’s plans if he doesn’t show something soon.
Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz, Center)
One of the biggest matches of the opening day was Kanter vs. Andre Drummond and while neither was spectacular, the rookie definitely had the upper hand. Kanter struggled going up against his strength and athleticism. He was just 1-7 from the field while grabbing five rebounds. The Jazz want to give Kanter a bigger role next season and have high hopes for him, but on Monday he showed that he still has a long way to go.