It doesn't receive coverage since most teams compete in Las Vegas, but the NBA's Orlando Summer League has come and gone with great results for several players. There were eight teams involved and all of them got a chance to see their rookies on the court for the first time, as well as some second-year players and others auditioning for a shot at the NBA.
Obviously you have to take the performances with a grain of salt since these young players were going against each other rather than veterans, but they can't be dismissed either. Now teams can feel a bit more confident heading into the season knowing that they have guys that should be able to hold their own at the next level.
Here are three players who helped their stock most for the upcoming season and should received ample playing time because of it.
As the Orlando Magic's first-round selection, St. Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson was going to enter next season with high expectations regardless of his summer performance. Those expectations may be even higher now, though, as Nicholson turned in a fantastic showing over the course of five games in Orlando and was ultimately named to the All-Summer League First Team.
Nicholson led the Magic with 12.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest and he displayed his trademark versatility. Nicholson can score inside and from mid-range, and he is also a terror to deal with on the glass. Nicholson now has a golden opportunity to receive a ton of playing time right away. Forward Ryan Anderson was traded to the New Orleans Saints and center Dwight Howard is as good as gone too, so Nicholson may be Orlando's go-to guy in the frontcourt. He demonstrated that he may be ready to shoulder that load during the Summer League.
Utah Jazz combo guard Alec Burks is another guy who showed a ton of promise in Orlando. Like Nicholson, he was named to the All-Summer League First Team and that should bode well for him moving forward. Burks was a lottery pick by the Jazz last season, and while he didn't play a ton as a rookie, he was still effective with averages of over seven points and two rebounds per game. He will be expected to contribute even more this year, however.
Burks got off to a great start as he carried Utah's Summer League team with over 17 points, three boards and two dimes per game. The Jazz have a ton of front-court depth and talent, but the same can't be said about their guards. Burks has loads of potential, though, and will likely start or play significant minutes off the bench during the upcoming season. If his Summer League dominance is any indication, Burks will be ready.
The Indiana Pacers' late-first-round selection of Duke center Miles Plumlee was met with some disdain on draft night as he is viewed as a one-trick pony, but Plumlee got his NBA career off on the right foot. The seven-footer was very effective in Orlando and was named to the All-Summer League First Team. Plumlee led the Pacers in rebounding with 6.6 per game and blocks with one per game as expected, but he also showed off his offensive acumen as he was second on the team with 13 points per game.
Plumlee won't be asked to do a ton this coming season with All-Star center Roy Hibbert ahead of him on the depth chart, but he still has a pretty important role. Indiana didn't have much behind Hibbert last season, but the Pacers are hoping Plumlee can be a solid presence with the ability to spell Hibbert from time to time. It was already apparent that Plumlee could come in and control the boards, but perhaps he has an offensive game to showcase as well.
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