BY JAMES BARLOWE
LUKE KENNARD - DETROIT PISTONS - ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE - 17 ppg, 46.5 fg, 47.8 3pfg
Luke Kennard isn't just a shooter. He gets buckets. He was a Draft Junkies favorite all year and didn't disappoint in Orlando. Just like in college, Kennard was able to get to his sweet spots on the floor scoring off the dribble despite his lack of quickness and athleticism. He did a lot of his damage out of the floppy action, and played with the poise of a 5 year veteran. Kennard was very efficient in his scoring and knocked down 47% of his 3's which will be his bread & better on the NBA level. It does not look like he'll have any problem adjusting to the longer 3 point line.
I feel like his pace could improve in PNR action, sometimes he moved too fast which led to him shooting contested jumpers. He already has a low release so he can't afford give the defense any advantages, especially when facing long, rangy defenders. Kennard didn't turn the corner and get in the paint as much as I would have liked, which led to him only shooting 9 free throws in 5 games. He had transition opportunities but with his pedestrian athleticism, he'll need to add way more sauce (euro steps, etc) and counter moves to his offensive package.
2017 NBA DRAFT ORDER
BAM ADEBAYO - MIAMI HEAT - ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE - 17.5 ppg, 8.25 reb, 2.25 bpg.
Bam played like his namesake in Orlando. He got the majority of his points "off the muscle" with reckless dives in PNR and relentless effort on the glass. He lived at the foul line, shooting a ridiculous 42 attempts in 4 games. Adebayo played with the hunger of a second round pick with his life on the line and just out hustled whoever was matched up against him. Like we already knew, he's as physically as ready as it gets which is rare for a One and done.
Despite the numbers, Bam's performance it wasn't pretty by any means. He only shot 35% in the four games and you could tell that length really bothered him around the rim. He played a lot with his back to the basket and which is going to lead to some ugly possessions. I read he shot the ball well in workouts but I counted 4 air balls from him and 4 made jumpers. I think he needs to simplify his game, continue to play with energy, roll hard to rim and eventually make the open 15 foot shot. He reminded me a lot of Thomas Robinson when he was a rookie on Kings summer league team as he was trying to prove what he could do instead doing what he was best at. Overall, great numbers but an ugly tournament.
JONATHAN ISAAC - ORLANDO MAGIC - ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE-10 ppg, 8 reb pg, 1.6 bpg
The first thing I noticed is that it looks like Jonathan Isaac has put on weight since the NCAA tournament ended, which is a very good sign for him since he'll be expected to play a lot of power forward. Orlando played him exclusively at the 4 position and he looked solid and comfortable and I believe its his natural position. He finished well in traffic (thanks to the added muscle) and he ran the floor for layups and dunks, something we did not see a lot of at Florida State. Unlike some of his other counterparts, Isaac stayed within himself scoring on pick and pops and aggressive rolls. His jump shot looked good and he did nothing to question his draft position or his ability to play at the next level.
Isaac tried to handle the ball a few times and you can tell he's not comfortable past two dribbles. He caught the ball in the ball in the pinch post and tried to isolate which only resulted to contested jumpers. With better spacing, I'd expect for him to create more space for himself, so this is a focus point for him. Somehow he only had one assist in three games. He didn't show much from the 3 point line (4 attempts) and since he'll be playing alongside a non shooting point guard and a space eating big, stretching the floor will be important. Lastly, I absolutely wish he'd push the ball off a rebounds , for the life of me wonder why he doesn't. It's baffling.
DWAYNE BACON - CHARLOTTE HORNETS - ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE - 15.4 ppg, 4 reb ppg, 1 apg
Dwayne Bacon made the most out of his opportunity with Malik Monk sidelined for the Orlando Summer League. I jokingly called him a homeless mans post Achilles Kobe Bryant and played just like him. Bacon took and made a lot of tough mid range jumpers at about a 41% clip. He was solid in transition and used his aggressiveness to get to the line 19 times. He's got some talent and could carve a niche as a "get buckets off the bench guy."
On the other side of the coin, Bacon still hasn't embraced the 3 ball and only had eight attempts in the 5 games he played in Orlando. I'm all for the mid range jumper in pick and roll situations, but Bacon overly relies on the contested pull up. His handle is still pretty loose and he's very predictable: if he goes right it's a pull up, cut him off and he'll spin. Bacon wasn't a playmaker either as he totaled just five assists in five games. I just find it hard to find success when you rely on tough mid range jump shots without elite athleticism.
TJ LEAF - ATLANTA HAWKS - ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE - 12.7 ppg, 6 reb pg,
TJ Leaf had a solid and very productive summer league for the Pacers despite only playing in 3 games. Leaf only played 3 games and ran out of gas by day 3. There really isn't much cause for concern here; he put up good scoring and rebounding numbers similar to his production at UCLA . Leaf had the opportunity to show off his polished an refined offensive skill set, there was a nice turn around jumper and an up and under another play that reminded some of a young Kevin McHale. His quickness on the perimeter looks to translate as he was able to beat his man off the dribble and get into the paint. He didn't shoot particularly well from 3 but he was able to convert his only two attempts from the corner.
Leaf and his 3 point range are still a work in progress but he should not have an issue extending his range. His attempts from the break and top of the key were well short which is expected when adjusting to a new line. The physicality of the game got to him a few times, so he's going to have to continue to get stronger. As he develops his range and he beats late close outs, Leaf needs to improve finishing in traffic. He's got excellent touch so push shot and a running floater should be a top priority.
WESLEY IWUNDU - ORLANDO MAGIC - ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE -5 ppg, 3.8 reb pg
It was a rough go for Orlando's Wesley Iwundu. The small forward from Kansas State didn't shoot well from the field (30%) and faired even worse from 3 (25%.) He was really loose with the ball in terms of passing and taking care of the ball. I feel like Iwundu doesn't have an identity as a basketball player at this point in his career. At K State, he was a primary ball handler even though he was not much of a playmaker. Iwundu was a good, but not elite scorer in college and scored a career best 13 ppg as a senior. His flaw were on full display in his first and unlikely to be his last summer league in Orlando. What was really alarming was his lack of free throw attempts and his inability to finish in the paint over borderline NBA bigs.
Conversely, he's a very good athlete and a strong ball handler for a guy that's 6'7". Although he struggle on offense, Iwundu was effective in transition and showed potential as strong ad versatile defender. I feel like he should turn himself into a Joe Ingles type army swiss knife type guard. With his solid handle and size, he should be able to see over the defenses and possibly develop into a secondary playmaker.
JAYSON TATUM - BOSTON CELTICS - UTAH SUMMER LEAGUE - 18.6 ppg, 9.7 reb ppg, 47% shooting
Jayson Tatum showed why he was number one on the Celtics 2017 draft board and as expected, he got buckets out of the gate. The Celtics catered to his strengths and allowed him the freedom to work on the left block which is his preferred sweet spot. One of the things that stands out the most about Tatum's game is his advanced footwork in the post. I'm not necessarily a fan of his shot selection but he made a lot of the tough and contested shots. He's got a high release and uses the "Dirk leg" to fend off defenders looking to alter his shot.. It's hard to argue with his output in Utah and his effort on the glass was impressive.
Tatum looks to have the corner three in his arsenal, but he really struggled shooting above the break. All of his misses were well short so he'll need to adjust to shooting behind the NBA line. Tatum got buckets for sure but passing could use a ton of improvement. He's got good length but it remains to be seen what he does against elite level athletic defenders. Donovan Mitchell was able to use his athleticism and strength frustrate him, and only time will tell if that was just coincidence. How much of chance will Tatum get to dominate a Brady Stevens offense which is predicated on everyone touching the ball? I really wish Tatum was put into more PNR situations.
MARKELLE FULTZ - PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - UTAH SUMMER LEAGUE - 20 ppg, 3 apg, 3.5 reb pg
I'm a big fan of Markelle Fultz and he did nothing change why I believed he was the best player in the 2017 draft. He scored on all three levels and had zero issues shooting the NBA 3, whether it be catching and shooting or off the dribble. He's got a lot of poise in the pick and roll and played with the pace of a 5 year veteran. Fultz has been labeled as a point guard, but he looks more like a lead guard similar to rookie year Dwyane Wade. He even looked Wade-like with some highlight blocks that are rarely seen guard. Saying the future is bright for Fultz and the city of Philly would be an understatement.
While Fultz has great pace and looks like he's gliding around the court, he had issues taking care of the ball and was often out of control. He is still settling for contested mid range jumpers (and like his new rival Jayson Tatum) he proved he can still can knock them down against tougher competition. I feel like he's way too athletic to only grab 3 rebounds per game, so he'll need to improve his effort on the glass. Since he looked like the new age Dwyane Wade, Fultz is going to have to study up on how to get to the foul line more often since he's always in attack mode.
DERRICK WHITE - SAN ANTIONIO SPURS - UTAH SUMMER LEAGUE - 8.6 ppg, 2.3 apg, 2.6 apg, 31% fg
It was a rough go for the former Division 2 All American and Colorado Buffalo.
White showed craftiness and got to the basket pretty much every time he wanted with his great ability to change speeds to keep defenders guessing. Since he plated alongside Dejounte Murray he was utilized more as the shooting guard than point guard.
As for the bad, he shot awful. from the floor. Really awful. I don't know if it was nerves but he was off from everywhere which is evident by his 31% field goal percentage. When he wasn't missing shots, he was turning the ball over at a high rate. His 1:2 assist to turnover ratio surely isn't going to fly in San Antonio and could lead to him playing the majority of the season in Austin. I'll chalk up his bad play to adjusting to the NBA game, but I wasn't expecting White to look bad in the pick and roll. He needs to learn spilt traps and do a better job of probing. Hopefully, he'll make the necessary adjustments as he's been noted for having a great work ethic.
DONOVAN MITCHELL - UTAH JAZZ - UTAH SUMMER LEAGUE - 15.1 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3 spg
The early lottery guys impressed as expected but Donovan Mitchell was easily one of the best players in Utah. Mitchell proved he's an elite level NBA athlete and plays with a motor on both ends of the floor that will make him appreciated in Salt Lake City. He took pride on the defensive end and gave Jayson Tatum fits with his pressure, and forced him put the ball on the floor and contested every shot. When Mitchell wasn't locking up one on one, he was a threat the passing lanes off the ball. On top of his stellar defense, he shot the 3 ball efficiently (38.5%) and if his summer league is an indication of his play, Mitchell is going to make it difficult for Coach Quin Snyder to keep him out of the rotation..
While Mitchell has great energy and effort, the game can be too fast for him at times. His pace and decision making, especially in pick and roll, needs improvement. He did shoot well from 3, but he was less efficient off the dribble and shooting on the move. Since he's a two foot leaper, he didn't get very many clean looks at the rim which could be a problem trying to score on NBA level rim protectors. He shot a lot of floaters to off set going to the rim, but didn't make very many.
TONY BRADLEY - UTAH JAZZ - UTAH SUMMER LEAGUE - 8 ppg, 4 reb pg, 1 bpg
The 28th pick in the draft had a decent NBA debut at the Utah Summer League. He was effective shooting t the 15 ft jumper and did a good job playing off the ball in terms of cutting and rolling in pick and roll. Bradley is already a really good screener, as Dante Exum and Donovan Mitchell were beneficiaries of a few bone crushing picks. Bradley displayed good hands, solid defense but his ability to keep the floor spaced was a surprise, even though he doesn't have great range at this stage in his career.
While Bradley has excellent mitts, finishing in traffic is going to be a challenge early in his career. He's not a great athlete and his got his shot blocked often around the rim. His jumper is pretty flat so there's little room for error and he wasn't particularly accurate from the elbow. I wish he rebounded more as he was only able to pull down 4 per game.
KYLE KUZMA - LOS ANGELES LAKERS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE - 21.8 ppg, 6.4 reb pg, 51% FG, 48% 3FG
I was high on Kyle Kuzma and he didn't disappoint in his NBA Summer League debut. As a matter of fact, Kuzma was clearly the best rookie in Vegas. He shot absolutely lights out from 3 while attempting a 7 attempts per game. He ran the floor for plenty of easy layups and looked as if he and fellow Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball were the real life version of NBA 2k17's Orange Juice feature in the MyCareer story line. When Kuzma wasn't splashing 3s, he was facing up in the mid post and beating slower guys off of the dribble for easy baskets. Kuzma's ability to roll or pop makes him a matchup nightmare for opponents to defend. Kuzma's great play in Vegas makes you wonder if Julius Randle could be in jeopardy of not being extended past his rookie deal.
There wasn't much to complain about Kuzma's play, but finishing in traffic in the half court will probably still be a challenge going forward. While he's very athletic, he's not finishing above the rim when the lane is clogged. I'm probably one of his biggest supporters from a scouting perspective, but his 48% 3 point shooting isn't sustainable. One of my knocks on him in college was his playmaking needs to improve; he turns the ball over a lot in comparison to his assists numbers.
LONZO BALL - LOS ANGELES LAKERS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE- 16 ppg, 9 apg, 7.7 reb pg
Lonzo Ball won summer league MVP and Vegas was as good as advertised by his pops, Lavar. Well maybe not, since Lavar said he was better than two time MVP Stephen Curry. Despite, not being as good as Curry, Lonzo has Lakers fans buzzing about the prospect of him leading LA back to contender status. Lonzo proved to be an excellent passer; and even better than I thought he was in college which is saying a lot. He showed great vision in transition and just has a knack for finding guys when their open. He'll get credit for being an infectious passer and the Lakers moved the ball around and played unselfishly all summer. Lonzo took full advantage of his size and put up great rebounding numbers which is a huge asset to his size and allows him to push and pass the ball ahead for easy scoring opportunities for teammates. He's more of an opportunistic defender meaning he's great at getting steals and recovering to alter shots after being screened. He also showed great quickness when he didn't dance with the ball, he can catch the defender off guard and get to the rack.
With that said, there are still areas of concern for Lonzo. Defensively, he looks like a cone at times but he does give effort. Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr got where he wanted every time and unfortunately for Lonzo, there aren't very many nights off at the point guard position at this level. Lonzo' jumper was extremely shaky and he shot a lot of bricks and air balls. On top of that, he's a forward jumper so he's not necessarily getting great looks in spot up opportunities. He still doesn't show enough creativity in the half court in isolations and he barely generated any looks in pick & rolls. His unselfishness is great but he passed up a few layups which can lead to teammates taking tougher shots than needed. Some of these weaknesses can be addressed and are just part of the college to NBA adjustment. Ball looks like a very good prospect and the perfect compliment for 2016 Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram.
DENNIS SMITH JR. - DALLAS MAVERICKS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 17.3 ppg, 4 apg, 4.8 reb pg
Dennis Smith, Jr gave Dallas Mavs fans a lot of hope for the future with his play in Las Vegas. I was high on him all season and wasn't disappointed at all by his performances. Smith, Jr. was in attack mode every game getting to the foul line a whopping 44 times. He showed great pace in pick & roll and showed the ability to score at all 3 levels. He's got NBA range from 3 and can shoot by scoring off of the catch or pulling. His athleticism lived up to all the hype and he'll provide plenty of excitement with highlight reel dunks (or dunk attempts. he tried to take someone's basketball life away with a thunderous dunk he eventually missed.) Smith basically got whatever he wanted when he wanted whether it was against Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson. He's my way too early pick for Rookie of the Year.
There's a lot to love about DSJ, but he still can get caught up pounding the ball and dribbling without a purpose. When he's not playing with players of equal or greater talent, he's prone to taking bad shots. Defensively, his effort still isn't where you'd want it to be as he gets screened a lot or he gets lazy by going under screens, resulting in 3 point attempts. I'd love to see him convert more than 70% of his 44 attempts and also limit his turnovers (2.9) but overall he had an excellent summer league.
JOSH JACKSON - PHOENIX SUNS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE - 17.4 ppg, 9.2 reb pg
The 4th overall pick didn't disappoint in Las Vegas as he showcased a lot of his talents that made him such a sought after prospect. Jackson's motor was on full display evidenced by his 9.2 rebounds per game. He was every and put a lot of pressure on the defense. I knew he could handle the ball but he looked extremely comfortable in pick & roll situations with a tight handle played with a great pace. Jackson used his pace to help him score in a variety of ways, including shooting a lot floaters, something most guys with his motor and energy don't develop until later in their careers. He shows a lot of promise as a playmaker and defender and distributed his intensity equally on offense and defense. The Suns have to be pleased with how Jackson took the challenge of defending Dennis Smith Jr on the ball and played the passing lanes well off the ball.
While his basic numbers look great, Jackson is really going to have to improve his shot selection. I'm not a fan of him shooting step back jumpers, especially with the hitch he has in his jumper. He's not a natural shooter so taking bad shots isn't going improve his accuracy. Jackson shot an abysmal 18% from 3 and an un-sexy 64% from the charity stripe. Shooting can be fixed but and is currently the biggest hurdle in his development. For someone as athletic as Jackson, he should be a lot better finishing plays in transition. and should work on adding euro steps, slow step layups and high gather layups (think prime D Wade.) to throw off the timing of shot blockers.
JOHN COLLINS - ATLANTA HAWKS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE - 15ppg, 9.2 reb pg, 59% fg
Draft Junkies favorite John Collins had one of the better performances in Vegas and showed off the elite level athleticism and rebounding that made him a standout in his sophomore season at Wake Forest. When Collins wasn't throwing down vicious dunks (see dunk vs Pelicans), he still finished in traffic at a high percentage. He's got great hands in the pick & roll and still has the ability to make athletic plays in limited spacing. Collins did a good job playing off his guards by varying his slips versus screening all of the time. He even made a few jumpers which is an encouraging sign for the Hawks and their floor spacing. I really think him and Dennis Schroeder are going to mesh well together and form a fun duo to watch in the future. One of Collins best attributes is that he knows who he has as player, in contrast to Bam Abedayo in Orlando who tried to do everything and play outside of his role.
Obviously, you can't dunk everything and Collins didn't always trust his jump shot, a few occasions he would dribble too deep to get to the rim instead of taking open shot. I think the Draymond Green push shot on the move would do him wonders and make him more of a threat . Again, his jump shot still needs work but mechanically, he's fine. If he ever does use his post game, Collins is better off facing up and trying to out-athlete his defender rather than to back them down.
DE'AARON FOX - SACRAMENTO KINGS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 11.8 ppg, 3 apg, 44% fg
De'Aaron Fox was about as good as advertised and cemented himself as one of the best rookies in all the NBA summer leagues combined. His speed in transition was on full display as he constantly put pressure on the defense. In the half court, he plays with a nice pace while still playing in attack mode which led to 22 free throw attempts. His best game was against Phoenix and he showed good decision making and shot making from mid range and still getting to the basket. I've always thought he was advanced in pick & rolls as he routinely puts defenders in jail when they try to fight over the top of screens.
My biggest knock on Fox is and has always been his shot selection. He still doesn't want to shoot catch and shoot threes and kills possessions with his lack of confidence in his shooting range. In one particular possession had a wide open three against Memphis at the break and instead of shooting he drove into 3 set defenders.. Fox only shot 8 threes in four games, converting only one of his attempts. He's a great athlete with great size for the position but I'd like to see him grab more than 2 per game. He'd be even more effective in transition if he were able to rebound and push like Lonzo Ball. He wasn't a shooter coming out of college and him shooting 64% from the line isn't a necessarily a good sign for his development.
JUSTIN JACKSON - SACRAMENTO KINGS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 17.6 ppg, 38% fg, 2 apg, 3 reb pg
I was surprised with Justin Jackson's output during the summer league considering he played alongside fellow rookie De'Aaron Fox and also second year guys Buddy Hield and Skal Labissiere. The Kings ran a lot of their offense through Jackson and he scored a lot of points whether it be in transition, spotting up or driving aggressively to the basket resulting in free throw attempts. Jackson had no problems shooting the NBA 3 and he knocked down his floaters when the defense closed out on him.
While the raw numbers look great, Justin Jackson shot terribly from the floor. His specialty is his shooting but he was a paltry 24% from 3 and just 38% overall. I think he's more of a spot up guy and best (from the Otto Porter mold) and Sacramento didn't help him out by placing the ball in his hands as a scorer. He didn't look to turn the corner to get all the way to basket which is attributed to his weak handle or lack of creativity off the dribble.
CALEB SWANIGAN - PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 16 ppg, 10.6 reb pg, 44% fg, 27% 3 fg,
We were high on Caleb Swanigan at Draft Junkies and his showing in Vegas looked a lot like his sophomore season in West Lafayette where he dominated the Big Ten. Swanigan was active on the glass (3 offensive rebounds per game) and reasonably efficient on offense where he showed nice moves on the block and a soft turnaround jumper. He was able to abuse small ball 4s on the block and knocked down catch and shoot jumpers. Probably the most impressive takeaway for Swanigan was his passing ability.
As expected, Swanigan got a lot of his shots blocked (7) and will need to improve finishing in traffic. There's only so much he can do since he lacks elite level athleticism and the ability to finish above the rim. He struggled shooting 3s from the top of the key but if he can shoot 3s around the league average percentage he'll be a nice weapon and floor spacer for the Blazers. I think he rolls too close to the elbow for jump shots and should adds the David West fadeaway from around 18 feet to his arsenal.
LAURI MARKKANEN - CHICAGO BULLS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE - 14 ppg, 9 reb pg, 1.6 bpg
Lauri Markannen wasn't talked about as much as the other rookies in Las Vegas, but he quietly had a very productive summer league. He put up good basic stats and to everyone's surprise was one of the best rebounders all summer. Markannen had no problems letting the ball fly from NBA range and he's expecting to be the same kind of stretch 4 Nikola Mirotic was for Chicago.
While the scoring numbers look great, Markannen wasn't efficient and struggled putting the ball in the hole, shooting 29% from the field and 24% from 3. In college he could put the ball on the ground but in Vegas, Markannen dribbled with no purpose and had a hard time getting to his spots. He either drove into traffic or turned the ball over when he looked to put the ball on the floor. As expected, his foot speed defending on the perimeter is still going to be an issue.
DJ WILSON - MILWAUKEE BUCKS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE - 11.9 ppg, 5 reb pg,
With Jabari Parker going down in the middle of the season, it made sense for the Milwaukee Bucks to go with a forward that will allow their best player Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to be a matchup problem at the small forward position. DJ Wilson was their choice and he showed flashes of what made him an intriguing prospect out of Michigan. Wilson showed he can put the ball the floor and should be able to create some mismatches as a stretch forward. He has a reputation as a good shot blocker and almost blocked 2 per game in summer league action. It was encouraging to see him show the ability to switch pick & rolls which makes him valuable in today's NBA.
Wilson is also known for his ability to shoot the 3 ball but unfortunately he didn't have it with him in Vegas. He struggled with his stroke and shot a nasty 27% from 3 and only 38% overall from the floor. Like a lot of young players looking to impress in summer league, he took bad shots which always lowers your accuracy. Overall he didn't look like he had an identity on offense, over dribbled at times and didn't generate great looks at the rim. His role in Milwaukee will be simplified but if he can't make the 3 ball then we will see a lot of Giannis at the 4. My scorching hot take is "what if the Bucks took Kyle Kuzma?"
SINDARIUS THORNWELL - LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 14 ppg, 3.5 reb pg, 38% fg, 15% 3
Sindarius Thornwell hit the ground running in his opening night of summer league action. He lit up the Lakers for 32 points and did a good job on Brandon Ingram late in the game after he destroyed his match up early on. Thornwell puts a lot of pressure on defenses as he lived at the foul line all tournament.
After the Laker game, Thornwell struggled. He didn't shoot well at all and couldn't find his 3 ball. His jumper is shaky to say the least and he doesn't have that elite NBA athleticism to draw fouls consistently. I don't know what his role is in the NBA as he's a volume scorer.
MONTE MORRIS - DENVER NUGGETS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 9.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 40% fg, 12.5% 3 fg
Monte Morris did Monte Morris things: he made the right plays, took advantage of his scoring opportunities, and he didn't turn the ball over. I expected his 4:1 assist to turnover ratio and also he'd be able to run a team and play under control. Morris already has a good feel for when to pull up for the mid range jumper or when to shoot the floater. He took advantage of the bigs when they switched and got to the basket when he recognized the mismatch. Morris as usual was solid, steady and unspectacular guy and also proved he's definitely an NBA caliber player.
What makes Morris probably a career backup is his lack of burst on offense. He doesn't have the kind of quickness needed to get by guys consistently and is also a below the rim finisher. His lack of athleticism and explosiveness will lead to struggles finishing in traffic. Morris must improve his 3 shooting to crack the Nuggets rotation this season. He only made one 3 pointer (catch and shoot) and teams went under his screens. His lack of shooting led to him often calling for re screens to get a favorable matchup.
JAWUN EVANS - LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE - 8 ppg, 4 apg
I've been a fan of Jawun Evans for some time and was greatly surprised he fell to 38th in the second round. What I saw from him in Vegas reaffirmed my initial thoughts: he can play at this level. He got off to a slow start due to signing his contract late but Evans showcased many skills needed from an NBA point guard. He can make every pass in the pick & roll and showed great vision finding open guys when the defense tagged the roll man. Evans also did a good job taking care of the ball and posted a a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio. He utilized his floater which is going to have to be automatic due to his lack of explosiveness at the rim.
Since Evans is not strong finishing at the rim in traffic, he'll need to improve his mid range game a la Chris Paul. He had a lot of his layup attempts blocked and this isn't going to change anytime soon even though he is pretty crafty around the basket. Unless the Clippers blow it up, we likely won't see a lot of Jawun in the NBA with their crowded backcourt consisting of Patrick Beverly, Austin Rivers, and Milos Teodosic.
JORDAN BELL - GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 5 ppg, 2 spg, 2.6 bpg, 9 reb pg
I was high on Jordan Bell pre draft and was even adamant on him being a late first round pick. Not many agreed with my evaluation and like many predicted he fell into the second round into the lap of the Golden State Warriors. Bell is the best defensive rookie in the draft by a wide margin. He just has a nose for the ball on and makes game changing plays on the defensive end of the floor. Bell produced two steals and 2.6 blocks while changing numerous shots at the rim. What's really impressive is that he blocked all of those shots left handed. He blocked shots from the weak side and one on one when he was chest to chest with the offensive player. He is surprisingly a good passer at times.
Offensively, Bell just doesn't have it unless he's rolling for dunks, but he is surprisingly a good passer at times. He doesn't have a jump shot and limited shooting range and will need to spend time adding a 15 ft jump shot. While he does make the occasional great pass, he turns the ball over way too much for anyone to trust right now.
FRANK MASON - SACRAMENTO KINGS - LAS VEGAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 8.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 39% fg, 37% 3 fg
Frank Mason III had a pretty solid summer league for the Sacramento Kings before going down with a lower leg injury. The National Player of the Year in college basketball looks like he's going to carve his role in the NBA as a Patty Mills type of microwave scoring guard off the bench. His quick scoring capability was on display against the Lakers and he was the catalyst in a comeback loss scoring 24 points in just 24 minutes. His jumper from college seems to have translated well to the NBA 3 point line. Though undersized, he's athletic enough to finish at a decent rate at the rim. He's got a good floater and is generally hard to keep in front of.
Just like his time at Kansas, Mason is still pretty vanilla in pick & roll situations. He'd be even more deadly of a scorer if he split hedges or put defenders in jail when they fight over the screens. Mason could should add a counter when he drives to the basket full speed; maybe even a step back jumper similar to CJ McCollum. I don't know what kind of playmaker he is if he isn't driving downhill, very rarely does he make pick and roll passes. Sometimes he can be sped up which usually results in tough layup attempts. He comes off as a Trey Burke with more quickness.
JOHNATHAN MOTLEY - DALLAS MAVERICKS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 7.6 ppg, 4.3 reb pg, 59% fg, 41% ft
After going undrafted due to a reported knee injury, Johnathan Motley had a lot to prove to every team that passed on him. Physically, Motley looked the part. He's long and a pretty good athlete. He didn't have a strong scoring output but he made the most offplaying alongside Dennis Smith JR by finishing easy dunks when the defense collapsed. The majority of his points came a few feet from the basket and Motley has enough length and athleticism to finish in traffic. Outside of dunking, he made a few short corner jumpers. His knee seemed fine as he ran the floor very well. Defensively, he couldn't be moved when backed down and he used his massive wingspan to contest shots.
The most disappointing part about Motley's performance were his hands. He caught a lot of the short corner dump offs but bobbled way too many passes when he diving as the roll man. Maybe he wasn't used to catching the ball in traffic since Baylor wasn't a high pick & roll team. Either way, it's never good for your bigs to have shaky hands. Motley has great physical tools but he isn't a rim protector, which cuts into his value. His footspeed is going to be a challenge; if he has to contain the ball handler and then get back to a floor spacing big, he might be for a long evening.
ZACH COLLINS - PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 6.3 ppg, 5.7 reb pg, 26% fg
Zach Collins had a lot of hype coming into the draft after playing well in limited minutes for Gonzaga's team that made it to the NCAA title game. He showed a few flashes in his brief stint in Vegas before being shut down early with a knee injury. Collins did a good job rebounding and blocking shots at 2 per game. Although he didn't make too many jumpers, it doesn't look like a major flaw in his game at this point in his career. He's still really young and he isn't expected to play a lot of minutes any time soon.
With that said, Collins didn't look like he was a ways away from contributing. Right now, he doesn't have the lower body strength to defend the post or to even back anyone down. Maybe it was nerves, but he didn't look good doing anything on offense. He couldn't dribble, couldn't get a good shot, and he couldn't catch. While the game isn't played on the block like it was 20 years ago, and he isn't expected to be a low post threat, Collins looked bad in the post. He looked as if he never shot a jump hook in his life, despite it being a strength on his scouting report. Even if we excuse his poor post play, I didn't expect him to struggle with his hands. It was rough summer league experience for Collins; hopefully just a bad stretch of games.
THOMAS BRYANT - LOS ANGELES LAKERS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 5 ppg, 3 reb pg
Thomas Bryant did what a second round pick is supposed to do, bring energy and play extremely hard. He was definitely third fiddle in terms of scoring on what turned out to be the biggest draw in Vegas. Overall, Bryant shot the ball well and had no problems shooting the NBA 3. He displayed good hands in traffic and finished with a few thunderous crowd pleasing dunks. He probably would have had better numbers if more minutes were available.
Bryant's biggest weaknesses are on the defensive end of the floor. His foot speed in terms of defending pick and rolls is a big red flag as guards routinely made him uncomfortable. When he had to guards bigs, he was bullied on the block and he was often late to close out on shooters. Bryant will more than likely spend a lot of time in the G League but he has to find a way to improve on defense.
TYLER LYDON - DENVER NUGGETS - LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE 2.4 ppg, 4 reb pg, 20% fg, 13% 3 fg
Tyler Lydon was drafted 24th with the reputation as a shooter coming out of Syracuse. His jumper looked good coming off his hands and that's about the extent of what Lydon did well in Vegas. He does have NBA range and he's got the escape dribble down when the defense chases him off of the line. Defensively, he was a good defender as he contested a lot of shots and played defense on the ball effectively.
Lydon going 2-13 from 3 is pretty ugly. Again, there weren't any bad misses and I doubt this an indication of what kind of shooter he is. He did start to lose confidence in his shot and tried to make some plays off the dribble, but that's not his strength. Denver did have a few veterans (Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez) cut into some of the younger guys' minutes, but that does not change the fact that Lydon really struggled in Vegas.