The NBA Summer League isn’t exactly the main event on the NBA calendar and most of the time the analysis isn’t going to have a make-or-break impact on your season and/or draft strategy. However, last season’s leaders in the summer league turned out to have some big years in 2012-13.
Let’s take a look at the points-per-game leaders from the 2012 Las Vegas Summer League:
Damian Lillard 26.5
Kawhi Leonard 25.0
Josh Selby 24.2
Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris 20.8
Some pretty big names on there, right? Lillard had arguably the best rookie season ever, Leonard was a stud in the playoffs, Harris was one of the best players down the stretch last year and Butler was a 48-minute machine for the Bulls. Now, that type of impact isn’t expected to be the norm and those aforementioned players had some serious opportunity for minutes. In fact, I’d say there’s no way this 2013 crop of summer league studs has even half the impact of those four guys. It’s still something that deserves our attention.
This piece is going to cover each team on which players had noteworthy performances. Some of them will be positive -- like Jonas Valanciunas -- while guys like Trey Burke struggled mightily. We’ll also be focusing on guys that have high upside. If a player had a big week, but doesn’t shoot the 3 or provide much defense, he’s not going to be worth your time until there is tremendous opportunity due to injuries. These opportunities will be discussed in our draft guide, by the way.
Before we get down to business, I just wanted to say what a blast it was to go to Las Vegas and take in some games. The atmosphere was amazing with all the famous NBA players, coaches and GMs just having a good time. It was funny to see players out on the streets while seeing some of the front office guys putting down a few drinks at the bars around midnight. I loved going there. It is so choice. If you have the means, I’d highly recommend picking up some tickets.
Follow me on Twitter for analysis and random stats @MikeSGallagher.
Hawks- Dennis Schröder is shaping up to be one of the better values of the 2013 NBA Draft. The Hawks scooped him up with the 17th pick and he didn’t disappoint in Vegas this week. He ranked second in assists with 5.6 per game, while adding 10.8 points, 1.4 threes and 1.6 steals. Schröder also played some tight defense with impressive lateral quickness at both ends. He's all but assured his spot on the team and the team reportedly feels he can be Tony Parkeresque. The German will need Jeff Teague to miss time, so he’s more of a high-upside backup.
Lucas Nogueira was another rookie that put up some stats. He’s a lengthy guy and his 2.4 blocks per game ranked fourth among the Vegas contingent. He has a 7’6” wingspan, but he really looked a bit lost as he put the ball on the floor in the post. The Brazilian might be stashed overseas this year.
Celtics- Kelly Olynyk was one of the most impressive big men in Orlando, averaging 18.0 points, 7.8 boards, 1.8 steals, 0.4 blocks and 0.4 triples in his five games. The Celtics have a very thin frontcourt rotation and Olynyk has the inside track for the most minutes at center. The Gonzaga product has some range in shooting the rock, so the triples could give him a nice upside. Jared Sullinger is fully expected to be ready from his back surgery and the two could share minutes at center. Sully was too inconsistent and doesn’t really block shots, so Olynyk is worth drafting before the Ohio State product.
Nets-Tyshawn Taylor’s 16.8 points per game ranked fifth in scoring for the Orlando Summer League, shooting just 38.6 percent to go with 3.3 boards, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals in 30.0 minutes. The Nets have a little more confidence in Taylor this year and he’ll likely be able to improve on his 5.8 minutes per game. Of course, the Nets picking up Shaun Livingston moves Taylor one step down on the depth chart.
Bobcats- The Bobcats aren’t exactly the model of excellence in the NBA, but the team had a few interesting storylines last week. Jeffery Taylor was a pleasant surprise in Vegas, scoring 20.3 points per game with 1.8 steals and 1.8 triples. Taylor was getting to the rack a lot and took 7.0 free throw attempts per game. Last year, he saw 29 starts with most of his significant minutes coming in the 2012 section of the season, but his minutes dwindled down to 15.0 in April. The added aggression was nice to see from Taylor this week, but it’s not enough to warrant fantasy consideration.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist put in some extra time with coach Mark Price, but he still didn’t quite work out the kinks in his shot. MKG has a little hitch on the way up and he still doesn’t release the ball at the apex of his jumper. Last year, he shot just 27.2 percent on his jumper and was exceptionally bad from 10-16 feet, making only 14.3 percent of his attempts. This week was a bit of a success as he made 54.2 percent of his attempts. I’m still not going to draft a guy that can’t shoot, especially since he didn’t really knock our socks off in the defensive categories.
The Bobcats surprised most people with their selection of Cody Zeller at four in the draft. He got his professional career off to a good start in Vegas with averages of 16.3 points, 9.3 boards and 0.8 blocks in 32.0 minutes per game. He stayed composed in the paint and got a lot of easy buckets in halfcourt sets. Zeller has a shot to get some minutes at power forward for the Bobcats even with Josh McRoberts signing a two-year deal to remain with the team. The Indiana product will be worth a look late in drafts.
Bulls-Andrew Goudelock came out hot to start the summer league with 26 and 31 points in his first two games. Mini Mamba has a D-League MVP on his résumé and he’s been able to put up some nice numbers against the weaker competition. He can be ignored for the most part.
Some of the Bulls writers are comparing first-round pick Tony Snell to Scottie Pippen and while it’s a little premature, the player comparisons make sense. Snell has a seven-foot wingspan with a height of 6’7” and he did a solid job of perimeter defense throughout the week. His offense wasn’t really there, though, shooting 36.7 percent from the field for 11.8 points. The Bulls picking up Mike Dunleavy will put a damper on the hype for the 20th pick in the draft in his first season.