Mike Gallagher

Offseason Beat

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Summer League Summary 5

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I’ll be the first to admit summer league isn’t the most impactful two weeks of the season and our coverage this year was a bit superfluous. Still, it’s pretty cool to learn more about some of the esoteric players in the league and it should help us understand what each player brings to the table if they get an opportunity. We put up a ton of blurbs on our Player News page and this is the fifth column breaking it down. In case you missed them you can check out the first, second, third and fourth editions here. Parts three and four are probably the only ones worth checking out as they serve as a recap of the whole event.
Follow me on Twitter @MikeSGallagher for some occasional stats that I’ll be dropping in our upcoming draft guide.
Sixers - Can you name the top 10 76ers in minutes played after the break? If you said Thaddeus Young, Michael Carter-Williams, James Anderson, Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson, Tony Wroten, Elliot Williams, Jarvis Varnado, Byron Mullens and Brandon Davies, you had too much time on your hands in April. Anyway, it’s pretty obvious we’ll have another season of random guys making contributions for Philly.
Nerlens Noel looked like a guy who should have been taken first overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Sixers did keep his playing time in check with just five games, which was the plan all along. In other words, there shouldn’t be any concern about him sitting out six games. He showed remarkable consistency and looked extremely quick in the hips, getting the ball in the high post and shaking free for tons of uncontested buckets from within eight feet. Noel also kept his eyes open on the weak side for 2.6 blocks per game. His offensive game was a lot more polished than expected, so he could get in the low teens for scoring in his rookie season.
Noel is still a little too slim to bang around in the paint and is unlikely clear eight boards per game. That’s OK, though. Even guys like Marc Gasol, Taj Gibson, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Bosh didn’t get to eight boards per game. On top of that, the 76ers led the NBA in pace and coach Brett Brown is likely to alter his strategy of getting up and down the court, especially considering how young his team is. Noel is a risky pick in the middle rounds and I’d consider drafting him.
K.J. McDaniels was really in a groove in Orlando with averages of 13.0 points, 3.7 boards, 1.0 blocks and 1.5 triples on 48.5 percent from the field. The wind was taken out of his sails with an ankle sprain on July 9 and he never got his season on track. He returned back to the court for Vegas, but had just 9.0 points, 2.0 boards, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 triples in his two games. McDaniels is a wonderful fit for his affinity to get up and down the court and above-average perimeter defense. He’s certainly in the mix for the starting gig, but he’ll have heavy competition from Jason Richardson and Vegas star Jordan McRae. The Clemson product is also big enough to play at small forward since Thaddeus would make sense at power forward. Keep an eye on him.
As mentioned, Jordan McRae was fantastic at Vegas, earning a nod to the Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team. He ranked third in points per game at 21.0 to go with averages of 2.5 boards, 1.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.5 triples on 50.0 percent from the field and 86.5 percent from the line. Yep, six-category production.
As great as he was, it’s still a little hard to get on board based on how 57 players were selected before him in the 2014 NBA Draft. If he makes the team, who knows what could happen? To be clear, he’s not worth drafting in almost any league.
Casper Ware was also not a ghost (lame, I know) in Orlando, ranking second in scoring at 19.0 points per game. He was really aggressive and even ranked fifth in assists per game at 5.2 in Orlando. As you would expect, the 5’9” guard was counting on his floater and didn’t get all the way to the basket very often. That means he’s likely going to have plenty of inconsistencies as a scorer. Ware was actually 7-of-8 at the rim last season, which explains why he shot a decent 42.9 percent from the field. Why was he such a beast around the rim? Just about all of those shots were completely uncontested with three of those seven makes coming off a cut and a few missed defensive assignments on some PNR buckets. Basically, we can’t buy his eye-catching summer-league run.
Suns - The 2013 Suns summer league team had a noteworthy impact on the 2013-14 season. Markieff Morris put up terrific numbers down the stretch, P.J. Tucker’s offense turned the corner to go with his lock-down defense, Marcus Morris had a few bright spots last year and Miles Plumlee was a summer-league stud in Indiana before moving over to the Sun via trade.
They’re not likely going to have as big of an impact this time around, though. However, I loved what I saw out of T.J Warren in Vegas. He led the NCAA Division IA in field goals and ranked second in most scoring-based statistical categories behind Doug McDermott. It was pretty clear all of those reps at North Carolina State are going to help him get minutes sooner rather than later. Warren made more than 50 percent of his shots at NC State from 4-16 feet, which is rare air in the NBA. Plus, he was great around the rim and that continued in Vegas.
If you take out his one game with an eye injury, he averaged 21.3 points per game on his way to a 54.4 field goal percentage. The 6’8” forward also had his free throw attempts increase in each of his five Vegas games and also had a double-double vs. the Sixers on July 15. His size was viewed as a big asset by the team and the Suns used him at power forward quite a bit while even lining him up at center on a handful of possessions. 
The Suns just gave P.J. Tucker a three-year deal, so Warren’s minutes are going to be capped while Tucker is healthy. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he gets some run at the four. Fantasy owners in standard leagues can ignore him for now, but deeper and keeper leagues should watch him closely. He has star potential especially if he can start knocking down triples.
As an aside, these columns about Warren from Grantland and ESPN (Insider) are worth a look.
Tyler Ennis may have been the worst first-round pick at Vegas. He shot a putrid 21.9 percent from the field and didn’t make any of his six attempts from beyond the arc. There are almost too many weaknesses to count, so I’m not even going to go there.
Archie Goodwin made an immediate splash last year in Vegas and he was another positive for the Suns this time around. Goodwin’s stats weren’t great at 12.8 points, 3.0 boards, 1.2 steals and 2.2 turnovers on 36.4 percent from the field, but his defense continues to be his best attribute. After one a game against Milwaukee, I heard Goodwin and P.J. Tucker just talking about defense and it was pretty cool. They both were talking about how Goodwin helped keep Jabari Parker in check at 4-of-15 shooting, which was by far his worst game. Goodwin is going to need a lot of help for minutes with the addition of Isaiah Thomas.
Miles Plumlee ranked third in rebounds per game in Vegas and ended his event with back-to-back double-doubles. He’s shaping up to be the starting center again, but his minutes trended down as the year went along. Unless he solves his issues at the line, he won’t be worth drafting.
Alex Len suffered yet another injury. This time he broke his hand and should be ready for training camp. Hopefully his fortunes turn around soon. Alec Brown also suffered a dislocated shoulder and is out indefinitely.
Blazers - For the second year in a row, it was the C.J. McCollum Show for the Blazers. This time around, his efficiency was way up. Last year, he shot 20.2 attempts per game at 36.6 percent from the field, but in 2014 he made 47.9 percent of his 14.6 shots per game. Plus, his 10 triples gave him an effective field goal percentage of 54.8. Basically, this is exactly what the Blazers were hoping for. McCollum is entering this upcoming season with some added responsibility now that Mo Williams is gone. He’s a good bet to take the overwhelming majority of Mo’s 24.8 minutes per game from last season. If he can stay in the mid-20s, he’ll have some low-end value in standard leagues.
Thomas Robinson had surgery on his hand this week and should be ready for training camp. Just like last summer, he was one of the more athletic big men in Vegas and he continued to crash the boards. Obviously, he would need LaMarcus Aldridge to miss time in order to see minutes over 20 per game.
Will Barton had another solid effort with 14.4 points per game on 37.8 minutes per game. If McCollum does need another year to be a regular contributor, it’ll likely be Barton getting minutes in the teens this season.
Kings - YOUR 2014 SAMSUNG LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS! No good? Well, that’s exactly what the Kings are going to be with their horrific offseason letting Isaiah Thomas walk. But that’s an argument for another day.
Ray McCallum is your 2014 MVP of the championship game with his 29-point game in the win over the Rockets. While his previous games in Vegas were more of a whimper than anything else, he did have a 12-dime game.
The Kings rode him into the ground in his final 12 games of the regular season, playing 42.1 minutes per game with averages of 13.5 points, 3.1 boards, 6.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.9 triples on 37.9 percent from the field. He’s likely going to come off the bench behind Darren Collison. Although, McCallum is probably a better fit with the current team in place. This is likely going to be a timeshare and his upside isn't really high enough to warrant a pick in standard drafts.
Nik Stauskas started out great with three straight games in double-figure scoring, then he really started to slow down. Let’s start with the positives. He shot a pristine 47.8 percent from 3-point range and also kept his turnovers down at 1.9 per game. The U of M rookie was better off the dribble than I thought and he moved well without the ball.
On the downside, he doesn’t have a game that’s going to dominate at the NBA level. Stauskas isn’t quite as quick as some other shooting guards and he will really need to work on his defense. Considering he couldn’t even crack a double-digit scoring average in summer league, it would seem like an impossible feat to do that with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay next to him.
Ben McLemore started horribly in Vegas this year, but he actually turned it around. He finished up the event with averages of 12.6 points, 4.1 boards, 1.3 assists, 0.4 steals and 1.0 treys. Still, he was roasted on countless defensive possessions and didn’t move around much without the ball. The Kings are saying the selection of Stauskas wasn’t a knock on McLemore, but how can we not take it that way? At best, he’s only going to share time. There won’t be enough stats outside of points even in an ideal world.
Derrick Williams probably should have dominated in Vegas. He didn’t, posting averages of just 12.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 turnovers. There’s little reason to be excited about him for next season.
Sim Bhullar is a large man.

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Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.

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