Orlando Summer League 2012: Rookies Worth Watching in Orlando

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28:  Perry Jones III (R) of the Baylor Bears greets NBA Commissioner David Stern (L) after he was selected number twenty-eight overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Ah, the NBA Summer League, when rookies, recent draft picks and young journeymen descend on Orlando to showcase their talents and learn the tricks of the NBA trade.

While the Orlando Summer League will be mostly devoid of big-name lottery picks, there are nonetheless a few rookies from the 2012 draft class worth keeping a close eye on.

From two top talents who dropped down the board to a young center with a limitless upside, I found three players you'll want to monitor in Orlando.

Let's break them down.


Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Drummond had top-five talent, but questions about his motor and consistency dropped him down to the Pistons with the ninth pick. Now, all eyes will be on the freakishly athletic center to see how he adjusts against a higher level of talent in the summer league.

He had a decent first showing on Monday, finishing with eight points, five rebounds, four steals and two blocks in 27 minutes against the Utah Jazz. Finishing with four steals as a center should give you an idea of just how athletic Drummond is.

What you'll want to watch for isn't so much how consistent Drummond is—he's 18, after all, and this will be a learning experience for him—but those occasional moments when he flashes his upside.

Will Drummond show glimpses that he could be a top center some day? Or will he he simply get lost in the shuffle?

It will be interesting to see how Drummond reacts to his first taste of play at the next level.


Perry Jones III

After just one game in Orlando on Monday night, Jones showed the upside that could make him one of the best draft steals in the past 25 years after he dropped to the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 28th pick.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Jones had 16 points and eight rebounds, and showed off a wide-ranging display of ability: step-back jumpers, long-range shooting, hard defensive rotations, running the floor and a deft passing touch. If you'd never seen him before and didn't know what the general scouting report was, you'd never scribble down "poor motor" in your notes.

According to his teammates, he's been that way since the team started practicing last week.

Like Drummond, Jones oozes talent out of his pores, and he could make a whole lot of teams regret passing on him. In OKC, he should be a solid fit, where he can learn behind young stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook while slotting in at both forward positions and adding even more athleticism to the young Thunder.

As if they weren't already athletic enough.

It's hard to say dropping out of the lottery to the 28th pick is a blessing in disguise, but if there was a perfect spot for Jones to land once he did start dropping, it was OKC.

I think he'll be a valuable player off the bench for the Thunder as soon as this upcoming season.


Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

Sullinger is a bit undersized at the 4, isn't very athletic, has a limited array of offensive moves and has some injury concerns.

Oh, and he can also flat-out play basketball.

Sullinger made his debut for the Celtics against the Thunder on Monday night, and all he did was score 20 points and nab six rebounds.

Sure, this is just summer league ball, and sure, NBA scouting reports will soon have all of his tricks and habits documented. But whereas a lot of young prospects are often limited by their weaknesses, Sullinger consistently found a way to overcome them during his time at Ohio State.

I wouldn't bet against him doing the same in the NBA.

No, he'll never be a star. But he has the chance to be a very solid player for the Celtics, and if he continues to play like he did in his summer league debut, he'll be a very solid player for the Celtics in the 2012-13 campaign.


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