NBA Summer League 2012: Second-Year Players with Most to Gain in Las Vegas

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 13:  Norris Cole #30 of the Miami Heat looks to make a pass during the game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on March 13, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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Most hubbub surrounding the NBA's Summer League games in Las Vegas concerns rookies. Everyone wants to see this year's NBA draft class in action for the first time, but what about the other guys?

Summer League rosters are filled out by second-year players looking to improve and D-League dwellers looking for their one big chance. 

Let's focus on a few of this year's second-year players. These guys have a ton to gain this summer as they look to add the missing link to their game, or solidify their spot on their team.


Brandon Knight

Knight will be playing with a ton of talent in Detroit next season, and a lot of those same guys will be with him in Las Vegas.

Andre Drummond, Kim English and Knight will form one of the most exciting young trios the action has to offer. Khris Singleton and Kyle Singler offer intriguing options as well. 

Knight enjoyed a solid rookie season, putting up 13.8 points per game and more than three assists and rebounds per contest. He is on pace to be a very good NBA guard. His ability to play both spots will benefit him, but point guard looks to be his long-term sticking point.

He can get a jump on his development in Las Vegas. Taking the next step in his game would be a major boost to his upstart Pistons team. 

Detroit has done everything possible to make Knight's game easier. Now he has to show he can take the necessary steps to improve himself.


Norris Cole

Let's stick with Eastern Conference point guards. Cole will be looked at as a leader for Miami's summer squad along with Texas product Dexter Pittman.

Cole played a vital role on Miami's bench during their championship run. His lack of competition at Cleveland State didn't hinder his development as a rookie, and he can make further strides this summer. 

He only averaged about nine minutes per game, but Cole provided stability in reserve action.

Next season he will once again be Miami's backup point guard. That's a valuable role for any team hoping to carry a deep postseason run. Plus, Mario Chalmers isn't necessarily an institution. Solid play could chip into his minutes.

Cole is a key cog on Miami's second unit, and he needs to show he's ready for that this summer. He will be surrounded by veteran shooters off the Miami bench, and he will have to make sure the ball gets to them.


Justin Harper

I'm taking things a little off the beaten path here. Harper only appeared in 14 games last season, and he averaged less than two points per game. 

He wasn't a big member of the old Magic, but he will have the chance to earn heavy minutes next season. Harper has the skills to be a face-up power forward, and the Magic just lost Ryan Anderson to New Orleans.

The Magic will be looking for offensive weapons from whichever way they can get them. Harper isn't a physical presence, but his lanky frame makes his shot tough to stop.

If he has an impressive summer Harper could put himself in line for valuable bench minutes next season, or better.