2012 NBA SUMMER LEAGUE RECAP: ROOKIES
The NBA Summer league ended a few days ago. If you missed it (and you probably did), you really didn’t miss much. The action often resembled a sloppy scrimmage or impromptu pick up type game you’d find at you local gym any given Saturday morning and typically resulted in huge blowouts (sometimes even by a 40-50 point margin). But once you get past the overall lack of competitive nature or flowing offense and focus on the individual performances day in and day out, the past 10 days of Summer League action was actually worth the monthly cost of NBA TV alone. It was definitely more than enough to satisfy any Basketball fan going through summer withdrawals like my self.
After the season come to a close, the next taste of real NBA basketball would be the Summer League. Since Lebron finally got his ring, focus quickly shifted to next season and the brand new talent entering the league, headlined by the one and only, Anthony Davis. Sadly the “Brow” would be a not make his professional debut in Vegas, but rather on overseas with Team USA -where he’s currently playing the role of a 1992 Christian Laeteneer. But no worries, with fellow college stars like Kidd-Gilchrist, Lillard, Beal, Robinson, Rivers, Drummond and Barnes all set to play, the 2012 Summer league was still a big deal as fans everywhere anxiously awaited to see their favorite teams draft pick in action for the first time.
So how did they fare against the competition? Luckily, most of the guys listed above didn’t disappoint. As a whole, this years lottery/first round picks looked solid, with a few clear stand outs who put on a show and a few others who, well, lets just say they have their work cut out for them. I’ll start things out with a short summary of the the best. Here’s my top three:
- Damian Lillard - If you’ve been following this blog for the past month, you know I’m a big fan of Lillard’s game. I hyped him up quite a bit, and he lived up to it by averaging around 27 points 5 assists and 5 rebounds a game. He also served up a nasty dunks you might have caught in a Sports Center highlight reel. Not bad for a 6 foot 1 point guard. Lillard certainly put his name on the map over the past two week so no need to make a case for him. If I may quote the late great Biggie Smalls, “if you don’t know, now you know”. Ultimately Lillard earned Co-MVP honors for the Summer League. Is it too early to call ROY?
- Jeremy Lamb - A lot of GM’s are looking real stupid for passing up on Lamb in this draft. I originally had him as a Top 5 prospect at the end of the NCAAB season, and guess what? I was right. Some how his stock dropped considerably by draft night, and he slid all the way to 12th at Houston. Lamb proved all the doubters wrong by easily putting up 20 points per game on very efficient shooting percentages. He looks to be one of the best pure scorers in his class and clearly is the best Shooting Guard, for now.
- John Henson - I had my doubts about Henson. I wasn’t too impressed with him at UNC but in the summer league, he appeared to be a whole new player. I’ll put it like this, if Anthony Davis played like Henson did (minus the shot blocking), not many people would’ve thought twice about it. Henson is a very similar type of player to Davis, only with out all the Hype and marketability. Maybe thats why he went under the radar, and didn’t get drafted high. However, in the summer league he proved his true worth, averaging around 18 points and 7 rebounds. Thats not amazing numbers (Terrence Jones was slightly better), but he looked really good doing it.
Moving on, the majority of the remaining first round/lottery picks looked solid. Beal, Barnes, Robinson, Terrence Jones, Waiters, Ross, White, Zeller, Sullinger and Leanord all put up decent numbers and made a good impression one way or another. Personally, I was most impressed by Torontos draft pick, Terrence Ross, who displayed a nice stroke as well as probably the best athleticism of any guard drafted. Portland’s new Center, Miles Leonard, looked much better than expected. He appears to be light years ahead of Andre Drummond, anyway. Lastly, Houston’s Royce White made a name for himself in a few summer league games by showing his high basketball IQ, feel for the game and versatility for a PF. Maybe now people can stop talking about his off court issues, and focus on his game.
My personal disappointments of the Summer League were Austin Rivers, Perry Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrisht (let me explain) and Andre Drummond. They all may be “NBA ready” as the rest of the rookies, but here’s a breakdown of why they basically left me wanting more.
- Rivers - Austin Rivers was probably the most hyped rookie in this years draft, and the most popular only behind his future teammate, Anthony Davis. He is also the most polarizing, so you know fans everywhere were waiting for him to either “go off” or fail miserably. Well, I don’t wanna say Rivers failed, but he did……kind of . What can I say, his shot was OFF. He didn’t finish inside easily either. Chalk it up to a few bad games. The summer league couldn’t have been easy for Rivers, being forced to learn to the point in his professional debut and all. It didn’t help that the opposing teams players seemed to have a target on his back either. Above all, Rivers showed a lot of heart, toughness and determination, and that will go a long way in the NBA.
- PJ3 - I had high hopes for Perry Jones. I anticipated him dominating the Summer League and, in turn, proving that he should NOT have slipped all the way to 28 and the Thunder. Jones (with all his elite talent) played 1 full summer league game -where he put up decent numbers, mind you- before getting sidelined to an injury.
- Kidd-Ghilchrist - I’m a huge MKG fan but, just like Perry Jones, Ghilchrist only played 1 summer league game. And it wasn’t even because of any (real) type of injury. Nope, he sat out because he was simply “too good for the competition”……or thats what it seemed like at least. But after ONE GAME? I get it, Ghilchrist went so hard in game one he was likely to get injured if he kept it up for the week. I can’t blame the Bobcats for holding him back, but the way he took the league by storm (18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals in 22 minutes), only to leave us wanting more was wrong. By far the most disappointing moment of the whole leauge was finding out MKG wasn’t playing in the next game. I had my popcorn ready, DVR set and everything. Guess I’ll have to wait until the regular season for the encore.
- Drummond - There is nothing much more to say about Andre Drummond other than that he’s a huge talent that needs a lot of work and a few years to reach his true potential. He didn’t look bad, but he didn’t make me jump out my seat with and particular aspect of his game. I can see him working well with the Pistons starters when the season begins, however.
This years summer league is only the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and successful NBA career for all off this years rooks. Eventhoug people may use these two weeks to label some rookies as the “next big thing” or the latest “bust”, remember a whole season (and preseason) is still left to play. The verdict isn’t out on any of these rookies yet. One of the players I didn’t mention could end up being Rookie of the year. You never know. There could very well be another Jeremy Lin we don’t know about.
Too lazy to watch NBA Summer league games? Too busy at the Pool trying to survive this East Coast Heat wave? Or maybe you just don’t have NBA TV? Well, you really haven’t missed much, but I still got you covered. Here are the highlights of the league so far courtesy of Oakley & Allen. Enjoy!