NBA summer leagues shed more light on the draft
By Andy Roth
Where Politically Correct Opinions Get Rejected
New York, NY (Sports Network) - This year's rookie crop got its first taste of the NBA in the recently completed Orlando Summer League and the one in Las Vegas which concludes on Sunday. Though it's not the competition the player will see in the regular season, you can still get a good feel of the skill and talent level in this setting.
In watching these games, it wasn't difficult to come away with some of the steals and blunders of the draft. Here's some of the talent that stood out to me in good and bad ways:
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: John Wall exhibited the talent that earned him the first overall pick, but the point guard will have to cut down on the high turnover totals that plagued him in college along with working on his perimeter game.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Evan Turner, by his own admission, struggled pretty badly in Orlando. He was used to controlling the ball at Ohio State and didn't seem comfortable playing off the ball with Jrue Holliday running the offense. Holliday, by the way, looks like he's really ready to make a real impact this season.
NEW JERSEY NETS: Power forward Derrick Favors looked like the project he was labeled before the draft. He needs a lot of work on his post-up game and mid- range jumper. I think DeMarcus Cousins would've been a better choice at this spot. New Jersey's second pick of the first round, Damion James, was very impressive and looks like he's ready to make more of an impact than Favors in his first season.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: Wesley Johnson had problems creating his own shot off the dribble, which is something you definitely don't want to see from the fourth overall pick in the draft. I have a strong feeling the T-wolves will regret this selection.
SACRAMENTO KINGS: Sacramento has to be thrilled with the play of Cousins, its first-round pick. He scored inside and out, rebounded and passed the ball extremely well while showing a really good feel for the game. The former Kentucky center could turn out to be the second-best player in the draft.
DETROIT PISTONS: Greg Monroe did not look comfortable working in the low post. He appears to have a small forward's game in a power forward's body.
UTAH JAZZ: A lot of people questioned Utah's selection of Gordon Hayward with the ninth overall pick, and his play in Orlando showed why. He struggled to get his shot off and his lack of foot speed hurt him on defense. I thought Paul George would have been a much better choice than Hayward.
INDIANA PACERS: Speaking of George, he was clearly one of the standout players in the summer league. His athleticism, size and length will be assets along with his excellent basketball skills. George was selected 10th overall, but looks like he should have gone a bit higher. And speaking of going higher, Indiana's second-round pick (40th overall), Lance Stephenson, looks like he should have gone much earlier in the draft. Character questions scared off a lot of teams, but there doesn't seem to be much doubt about his skill set.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS: The defending champs didn't select until 43rd and 58th picks overall, but it looks like they came away with some NBA talent in small forward Devin Ebanks and power forward Derrick Caracter. Ebanks showed good play on both ends of the floor, while Caracter's play had me wondering how this kid lasted until the third-to-last pick in the draft. He can score with either hand around the basket, has a nice mid-range touch and showed the ability to pass the ball out of the post, which is helpful in the Lakers' triangle offense.
BOSTON CELTICS: Luke Harangody was one of the standouts in summer league play and looks like one of the draft's big steals after being taken 52nd overall. The Notre Dame power forward showed the willingness to bang inside and the ability to step outside and hit 3-pointers.
Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.