Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Final Notes from Summer League

By Danny Stokes - Senior NBA Writer/Analyst for Legion Report @LegionReportNBA - Stokes.LegionReport@Gmail.com

Don’t Be Smoove
Adreian Payne was a standout at Michigan State during his four year tenure. A 6’10’’ beast that can battle down low or take a step back jumper was a constant threat for other defenses. He was drafted 15th overall by the Hawks to bring a stretch four off the bench and take some pressure off of Al Horford and Paul Milsap. Things didn’t go quite as planned in his first taste of NBA action. He averaged 12.5 points and 7 rebounds in 6 games, which are respectable numbers. However, Payne settled for a lot of outside jumpers. Hawks fans have nightmares of a similar forward that threw up a ton of 3’s, Josh Smith. Payne shot only 30% from the arc and 37.5% from the floor in total. “Being able to shoot the ball translates to any level,” said Payne.
“But it’s a lot different with the speed of the game and the players are more athletic. So, I’m just trying to get more comfortable out there and trying to find the pace of the game, so the shots still come and I’m in rhythm.”
 Unless Payne can bring his shot selection closer to the rim, he will have a tough time cracking the rotation in his rookie season.
You Need To Be This Big to Enter The Lane
The rookie class featured a lot of new point guards that brought a lot of promise to their prospective teams. The common disadvantage for them was that the big guys just are too strong for them. Shabazz Napier was often overmatched in Summer League play. He shot 27% from the floor and scored only 9 points per game. Napier will have 2 point guards in front of him for the start of the season.
Along with Napier, Tyler Ennis struggled in Summer League play. In his first game, he drove to the rim and finished an and-one and sank the free throw. From there on, Ennis was consistently overmatched by bigger point guards. In college, he had an awesome assist to turnover ratio, but that number ballooned.
Ennis and Napier have to adjust to the speeds of the game. They will have time since both of them are behind multiple players on the depth chart as of right now.
Don’t Give Up on Bennett
Saying Anthony Bennett was a disappointment his rookie season is one of the biggest understatements ever. The former UNLV player missed his first 53 shots before making a field goal. He was “praised” for recording his first double-double. At one point during the season, he even thought playing for the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ D-League affiliate, might be a good idea. Who in the world would want to play in the D-League? I, however, am confident Bennett can develop into a solid contributor in the NBA. There are big expectations for a #1 pick, but that Draft’s class was not strong and the only clear cut #1 pick was Victor Oladipo. That’s beside the point. Bennett entered last season not being able to condition or play in Summer League due to shoulder surgery. He was consistently playing catch up. This season, he showed up nearly 30 lbs lighter and averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Judging by his stats last year, expect a MAJOR upgrade this year for Bennett. Check out the photo below just to show how much weight he has lost so far.
Can you Snell the McBuckets?
Tony Snell was expected to take a step in his progress this season, but he failed to do so. It looks as though he took it personal and improved tremendously. He made 1st Team All-Summer Team and finished 5th in scoring at 20.0 points per game. Snell added 10 lbs of muscle and also added, “I got a lot stronger and faster, so that’s a good sign. I’ve been working hard all summer.”
Many people doubted whether Doug McDermott could succeed in the NBA. He has definitely proved the doubters wrong, so far. Highlighted by a 31 point outburst, McDermott was also selected for the All-Summer League Team. He averaged 18 points per game and is on his way to playing his way into the rotation. McDermott has gotten a lot of advice from Kyle Korver.
“Korver is a guy from Creighton who played with a lot of these guys, so he’s given me some advice.”
If both of these players can keep improving and contribute to the Bulls, I expect them and the Cavaliers to challenge each other for the Eastern Conference title.

Yes, this is Summer League and a lot of these stats don’t mean a thing. Just because Shabazz Napier struggled or Tony Snell lit up the scoreboard doesn’t mean this will translate into meaningful games. Heck, except for Kansas Jayhawk fans and other NBA geeks, the casual fan doesn’t know who Josh Selby is. He won the MVP of the Summer League in 2011. His NBA stats include 2.2 points, 0.9 assists, and 0.5 rebounds in only 38 games played.

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