Vegas Summer League 2012: Most Encouraging Performances from Monday's Action

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 18:  Jimmer Fredette #7 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles to the basket during their game against the Indiana Pacers at Power Balance Pavilion on January 18, 2012 in Sacramento, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The NBA's Summer League is in full swing. Gobs of rookie players are hard at work trying to prove their value, while others try to build on their young NBA careers.

Some breakout performances are to be expected. Lottery picks like Harrison Barnes and Jeremy Lamb are supposed to perform at an elite level, and they have, but what about those other guys?

Let's take a look at the most encouraging individual performances from Monday's Summer League action.


Tyler Zeller

Zeller dropped 19 points in Cleveland's victory over the D-League Select Team Monday evening. He also hauled down seven boards and stole two balls defensively.

Zeller went 5-of-8 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. If he plays with that kind of efficiency all season, he will be a very valuable asset to the Cleveland rotation. 

No one expects Zeller to be an NBA star, but he has the makings of a competent to above-average role player. He regularly beats his man down the floor and has excellent touch on his shot. He has all the skills necessary to excel next to Kyrie Irving in pick-and-pop scenarios.

The former Tar Heel is an NBA-ready package, even though his upside isn't on par with the upper-echelon forwards from this year's draft class.

It's encouraging to see him get his legs under him this early.

With Zeller, what you see is what you get. Right now, I like what I see.


Donatas Montiejunas

Montiejunas is a seven-footer who can score. That's not a phrase you hear often, and it immediately places a high value on his head. 

He scored 25 points and had nine rebounds against Toronto in Houston's opener. His ability to follow up that performance with a 19-point, six rebound performance shows he may have staying power.

Montiejunas' ability to adapt from playing in Lithuania to the NBA will be a key factor. It's not always an easy transition, but he's been impressive. 

He was able to repeat one great performance on Monday night. That decreases any notions of a fluke and shows him for what he is. 

Fans aren't too familiar with him yet, but he could be a star in the making. Don't underrate his ability to impact the paint on both ends of the floor. He's an athletic pivot with a knack for making the big play.


Jimmer Fredette

The Kings expected Fredette to shoot the lights out the second he put their jersey over his head. He didn't play like the 10th overall pick last season, but he sure did Monday night.

Fredette dropped 30 points in Sacramento's losing effort to Houston. He didn't score with great efficiency (10-21 from the floor), but 30 points is an undeniable effort. Considering that he averaged less than eight points as a rookie last season makes it even more important.

The Kings need Fredette to do one thing. He must shoot with confidence and maintain a perimeter presence. They lack a knockdown shooter and his ability to spread a defense opens up easy opportunities for the Kings' other guards.

Fredette was a disappointment last season, but his performance against Houston gives some hope to that idea that he can score in this league. 

It will be interesting to see if it continues.