Las Vegas Summer League 2012: Day 1 Notebook
The Las Vegas Summer League is the greatest collection of young and marginal NBA players that the league has to offer. It's a chance for recently drafted prospects to get their rookie seasons off on the right foot, borderline players to work their way into consideration for roster spots and home to plenty of sloppy basketball.
Teams are constructed in relatively rudimentary form, and yet the summer showcase does grant an opportunity—however conditional—for talent scouting.
With that in mind, here's a closer examination of the performance of a few of the standout players from the first day in Vegas.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards - Beal was among the most highly coveted players in the 2012 draft, and showcased a lot of his appeal in a dynamic Summer League showing on Friday.
Conversations about Beal tend to inevitably gravitate toward a comparison to the sweet-shooting Ray Allen, but Allen is a decidedly imperfect model; Beal has definite potential as a curling catch-and-shoot player, but his ability to read the floor and his ball-handling fundamentals suggest that his game could be a fair bit broader than Allen's ever was.
That's not to say that Beal will ever be the player that Allen was in total, but simply that his versatility on offense renders the comparison errant.
Donatas Motiejunas, Houston Rockets - Numbers put up on the Summer League stage come with asterisks aplenty, and there's ample reason to view the 25 points and nine rebounds that Motiejunas put up in this summer's debut game with skepticism.
That said, Motiejunas showed a lot of interesting—if still basic—skills that make him a notable prospect going forward. His hands and ability to corral passes appear quite good, which bodes well for his abilities in both half-court and open-court offense.
He converted Andris Biedrins-esque flip hooks around the basket rather effortlessly, and yet in a fundamentally un-Biedrins manner, converted a few spot-up looks from the perimeter.
His defense is hard to gauge and his rebounding imperfect, but Motiejunas could be an interesting addition for a Rockets team trying to figure out the workings of a young rotation.
Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards - Summer League play is largely sloppy and unorganized, leading observers to relish even the most borderline of highlight plays. That contrast made Vesely's athletic dunks (and even near-dunks) a welcome sight at the Cox Pavillion on Friday, but ultimately disguised the fact that the second-year forward wasn't performing up to par in so many other aspects of his game.
Vesely has an excellent sense of where to be on the court and when to cut through the thick of the defense, but his performance on Friday featured poor screening technique, disappointing work on the boards and a glaring lack of effort.
That's nothing damning given the fact that this was but a single game at the beginning of the Wizards' Summer League tour (and the first semi-formal game since the conclusion of the NBA season), but that doesn't mean we can't expect better.
Marcus Morris, Houston Rockets - Even after an introduction, Morris is a difficult player to understand. His twin brother, Markieff, has found his way a bit while playing for the Phoenix Suns, but Marcus too often gets lost in the action, and is frequently distracted from his apparent possibilities.
He can be an interesting and intuitive player, but Morris is a long way from a finished product. And considering the newfound glut of promising forwards in Houston, he may be the most sensible candidate for rotational marginalization.
Jeremy Tyler, Golden State Warriors - Tyler still has the raw look of an interesting NBA player—the height, the reach, the obvious athleticism—but tends to do all the wrong things in startlingly consistent fashion.
Ill-advised jumpers, contorting attempts and wrong-place offense are all Tyler's bag; through a season in the NBA and various exhibition showcases like this one, we can at least say that Tyler has shown very little to date that would indicate he is (or could be) a rotation-level player in the NBA.
He isn't a project that simply needs refinement, but a prospect who has all kinds of pesky bad habits to unlearn before any considerable progress can be made.
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