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Who Are The NBA Summer League Headliners?

The tournament portion of the Las Vegas NBA Summer League is underway and with pride on the line, there should be a bit more effort placed on team play and defense, but probably not. There have still been some great individual performances, however, with the possibility of more to come.

Jonas Valanciunas – 3 games, 20 points and 9.3 rebounds

Jonas Valanciunas has been feeling the love from the media in Las Vegas and many have the Raptors center pegged as the Summer League’s top overall performer. Three games of 18 plus points on 52.9 percent shooting and 24-27 from the free throw line, Valanciunas has been a force in the paint against Summer League competition. This has been a great place for the seven-footer to practice that running hook shot he likes to use as he sweeps laterally through the paint five or so feet from the basket. So far, defenses have either been letting Valanciunas practice the moves he is working on or fouling to stop him.

Thomas Robinson – 4 games, 9.5 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks

Things started slow in Summer League for Thomas Robinson, but he has been in beast mode these last two games. A 12 point 18 rebound effort in an overtime loss to the Bulls on Tuesday followed by a 13 point 17 rebound game in a close win over Atlanta. Already on his third team since he was drafted 5th overall last summer, these last two Summer League games are what should be expected from this naturally gifted athlete against this level of competition.

Andrew Goudelock – 3 games, 22.7 points

A scoring guard that played 40 games with Lakers as a rookie, but only one NBA game outside of the D-League last year, Andrew Goudelock can score. He put up 26 and 31 points in his first two games behind some great shooting, but only 11 points the next time when his shot wasn’t falling. It would be nice to see if the 6’ 2” guard could be a true point guard and facilitate some offense, but this might not be the right venue. Goudelock is hitting 60 percent of his three-point bombs in Summer League, but it has already been established he can do that. FC Barcelona is interested in signing Goudelock according to Sportando.

Jeff Taylor – 3 games, 21 points

A rookie with the Bobcats last year, Jeff Taylor is having a solid Summer League experience in Las Vegas. After three games of 19 points or better on decent shooting of 47.7 percent, Taylor and Cody Zeller (15.3 points) have been carrying the offensive load for the Bobcats. A successful NBA Summer League may be just what Taylor needs after his non-descript season last year.

Josh Akognon – 4 games, 20.5 points

Josh Akognon auditioned for the Mavericks on 10-day contracts at the end of last season and the audition continues in Las Vegas. The 5’ 11” point guard is making the most of it with three games of over 20 points and hitting 41.9 percent of his 31 three-point attempts. Akognon has followed up a 7-7 performance from the free throw line against the D-League Selects with an 8-8 effort against the Clippers to help the Mavericks advance to the second round of the tournament.

Malcolm Thomas – 2games, 12 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks

Malcolm Thomas has played 3 NBA games with the Spurs, 5 games with the Warriors and most recently 7 games with the Bulls since he left San Diego State in 2011, but after stints in the D-League and Europe, he now holds an NBA record. Thomas owns the all-time NBA Summer record for rebounds in a game with 22. It doesn’t matter what league he is playing in, 22 rebounds is really something. Thomas suffered a leg injury and didn’t play in the Bulls 3rd Summer League game.

John Henson – 2 games, 14 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks

This isn’t really a surprise, John Henson was a very active player with the Bucks last season and where the thin-as-a-rail power forward has strength issues at the NBA level, he should dominate in Summer League. All we are really getting out of his performances here is confirmation that as Henson gets older and stronger, he’ll be a good NBA player.

Aron Baynes – 3 games, 11.7 points, 10.7 rebound, 1.7 blocks

This senior from Washington State played four seasons in Europe before the Spurs picked him up for 16 games last season. An off the radar 26-year-old seven-footer that has caught the eye of the Spurs, anyone want to bet against that? He put up 19 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks in his last Summer League game.

Some other Summer League participants that are getting noticed include Jack Cooley, Cody Zeller, Tyler Zeller, CJ McCollum, John Jenkins, Marquis Teague, Mike Scott and Deshaun Thomas.

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.