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NBA Summer League Headliners

The Orlando Summer League has wrapped up and day three in Las Vegas is on Sunday, so there have already been some stories worthy of a quick mention.  Remembering that Summer League usually tells us more about what a player isn’t ready to do at the next level than actually being able to project these results onto the coming season, there have been some performances that have impressed.  Here’s a selection.

Thunder’s Reggie Jackson had everything going his way in a game against Detroit on Tuesday as he scored at will against the Pistons dropping 35 points.  Jackson only played in a game and a half after getting cut above the eye, but apparently, he doesn’t need to be here.

The Celtics made a draft day move to grab the 13th pick, Kelly Olynyk and he made summer league look easy.  18 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals, the seven-footer with athleticism and shooting range was pretty much having his own way in Orlando.

The Thunder’s Jeremy Lamb was just the scoring lead in Orlando, but he did it with some pretty brutal shooting.  39.1 percent from the field and 6-22 from three-point range is not what a returning NBA player should be doing at this level.  Dwight Buycks on the other hand, turned a pair of very good Summer League games with the Thunder into an NBA contract with the Raptors.

Point Guard Ian Clark made a big impression on the HEAT averaging 16 points on 49 percent shooting, so much so that they asked him to join their Las Vegas squad.  Unfortunately, Clark had already committed to the Warriors for Las Vegas.

Returning Piston Andre Drummond put up perhaps the biggest performance in Orlando.  15.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2 blocks is what a team hopes to see out of their lottery pick from the prior year’s draft.

Las Vegas is just underway, but already there have been some big performance.

Point guard Andrew Goudelock played the last two seasons with the Lakers and is trying to catch on with the Bulls.  He put up an early tournament best 27 points on 9-15 shooting to go with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.  If you have seen him play in the NBA, you would know he doesn’t belong in Summer League, but he needs a job.

John Jenkins returns to the Hawks Summer League team after a typical rookie season and he did what he was supposed to do.  He shot 11-23 from the field to score 24 points and he added 6 boards and 3 assists.

Austin Rivers didn’t have the easiest rookie season with the Hornets – now Pelicans, but his first game in Las Vegas was dominate.  8-15 from the field, 24 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal, now that’s doing it right for someone in Summer League for a second time.

One can be forgiven if they don’t remember Jeff Taylor of the Bobcats last season.  The rookie had typical rookie numbers in a forgettable season on a forgettable team.  Taylor was the Bobcats leading scorer on Friday with 24 points on 9-17 shooting and made an unexpected drive starting behind the three-point line to posterize the Spurs Aron Baynes.

Point guard Stefhon Hannah used his three years of D-League experience to shoot 8-11 from the field and 4-6 from deep to score 23 points in his first game with the Select team on Saturday.

The Toronto Raptors returning rookie Jonas Valanciunas missed Summer League last year due to commitments with the Lithuanian National team, but he put on a dunk fest for the fans in Las Vegas Saturday.  The seven-footer hit on 8-10 from the field for 23 points in 26 minutes to go with 7 boards in another dominating performance by a player who played in the NBA last season.

Josh Akognon played briefly with the Mavericks last year, but doesn’t have a guaranteed deal, so Summer League matters to the 5’ 11” point guard.  Akognon led his team with 22 points on 8-14 shooting on Saturday.  He’s motivated.

The Trail Blazers 10th pick, C.J. McCollum had a nice start to his professional career in Las Vegas.  The rookie went 9-19 for 22 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal.  Next step for the guard is to reduce his turnovers from 4 the next time out.

Anyone who saw John Henson play for the Bucks last season will have noticed this guy is on a pogo stick, as thin as a rail and probably tougher.  Henson had 19 points on 7-10 shooting to go with 13 rebounds, a steal and 3 blocks for a Summer League double-double.  Padding his stats at this level shouldn’t be a surprise.

Other notable performances from the first two days in Vegas include Kent Bazemore, Cory Joseph, Reggie Bullock, Dominique Jones, Markieff Morris and on and on.  The important thing for these guys is to build on this.

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre.  A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.