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Orlando Summer League 2012: Players on the Rise After Strong Performances

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16:  Andrew Nicholson #44 of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies holds the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2012

The Orlando Pro Summer League has wrapped up after giving some of the league's future stars a chance to gain some valuable experience. While there were several players who stood out from the crowd, a select few really helped themselves with strong showings.

Let's take a look at three talented youngsters who should benefit greatly from their time in Orlando. Their performances should give them an extra boost of confidence when they return to their teams for training camp next season.

 

Jared Sullinger

There was a time, early in Sullinger's collegiate career at Ohio State, that he was considered a future top-five draft pick. That never materialized, and he ended up sliding to the Boston Celtics with the 21st pick on draft night.

After his first taste of summer league action, it looks like the Celtics made a terrific selection. The power forward averaged 14 points and eight rebounds. He was one of the most polished rookies at the event, showing a lot of promise.

Sullinger will need to improve his shot selection, but otherwise, it looked like he should have no trouble making an immediate impact for the Celtics. For a team that's looking to keep up with the Miami Heat, that's crucial.

 

Andrew Nicholson

Knowing the Dwight Howard situation was going to impact the franchise eventually, the Orlando Magic used both of their draft picks on post players. The first one being Nicholson, who had a lot of question marks about his ability to jump from a small school to the NBA.

He did a good job of answering many of those questions in the summer league. The St. Bonaventure product averaged 13 points and seven rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the field. That helped him get named to the All-Summer League First Team.

His versatility was what made him such an intriguing prospect, and he showed off that wide range of skills throughout the week. Most importantly, Nicholson showed he was capable of putting the offense on his back when necessary.

 

Austin Daye

Unlike the first two players on the list, Daye already has three seasons of NBA experience under his belt. He hasn't lived up to the hype, however, making his trip to the summer league important to show the Detroit Pistons he still has potential.

Daye did exactly that by averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game. He also shot 51 percent from the floor, including 35 percent from beyond the arc. It was a really encouraging performance from a player who was only given 14 minutes per game last season.

There's still plenty to like about Daye. He has a nice combination of size and athleticism with the ability to stretch the floor. His great play in Orlando should finally put him on track to succeed when the real games start in a few months.

 

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