NBA Summer League 2012: First-Round Picks with the Most to Prove

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Dion Waiters #3 of the Syracuse Orange reacts after a play against the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There were 30 players who realized their dream last month after being selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Now they have to show they belong.

The NBA Summer League gives coaches and fans the first opportunity to see draft picks on the court with their new teams. Eight teams are competing in Orlando, while a total of 24 will see action in the Las Vegas Summer League.

While these will not be the most technically sound games, players will still be able to show off their talents on the court. 

These men have the most to prove in this upcoming season, and the summer league will be the first chance to make a good impression.


Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

There was some speculation that Waiters was going to be selected higher than expected on draft day, but most viewers were shocked when he was selected with the fourth-overall pick by the Cavaliers.

Now he has to justify that selection.

Fortunately for Waiters, last season's Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, will also be on the summer league roster, so the two can learn to play together in what they hope will be the backcourt of the future.

The guard needs to show he can hit the outside shot and score with consistency. He likely will not be judged on his defensive ability until the season starts. 


Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets

Like Waiters, Austin Rivers was a late climber on draft boards and was taken with the No. 10 pick. He will be on the summer league roster along with a bunch of young, inexperienced players. Top pick Anthony Davis will also be joining the team when healthy.

The lack of a proven leader will work to Rivers' favor as he has the ability to take over games and be the go-to scorer. Unfortunately, this will do nothing to silence the pre-draft concerns that he cannot fill a supporting role if needed.

Rivers will likely have an impressive summer session in a defense-free environment, but the real test will be if he can help the team win during the year.


Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

Once considered a top-five draft pick, Jared Sullinger plummeted on draft day until he was taken by Celtics with the 21st pick. Still, the great college player wants to show that he can also be a good pro.

He already had a strong debut, scoring 20 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now he must build on that to become a consistent force in the low post.

The Celtics need depth this season to continue contending for a championship. Sullinger is the type of player that can immediately step into the rotation and contribute on a nightly basis.