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NBA Summer League 2012: Players to Watch

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NBA Summer League 2012: Players to Watch
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NBA Summer League 2012 is officially in full swing. Many current NBA players have played on these hallowed floors including Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard. It's a place where lottery picks come to strut their stuff and lesser-known players come to earn a roster spot. Off the court, talk surrounds the latest NBA trade rumors and the intrigues surrounding the 2012 NBA free agency signing period. Let's take a look at some of the players who have impressed thus far in NBA Summer League 2012.

While NBA Summer League 2012 is already well underway in Las Vegas, let’s not forget that the Orlando Pro Summer League just finished up. Though the quality in Las Vegas has been much better in my opinion, several players stood out:

Lance Stephenson (Indiana Pacers)
Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic)
Kyle O’Quinn (Orlando Magic)
Jared Sullinger (Boston Celtics)
Malik Wayns (Golden State Warriors)

Lance Stephenson is a nice story. Drafted by the Pacers in the second round in 2010, “Born Ready” as he’s known in the New York area, was anything but in his rookie season. He was immature and seemed to struggle when he was on the court. He admitted he needed to work harder and that he’s grown up since then. In the games I saw, he was getting whatever he wanted on the offensive end and surprisingly was really getting after it defensively. Clearly, he’s trying to earn his minutes. He made the All-Summer League First Team as a result of his hard work.

Both Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn played very well for the Magic. You can tell that both guys know how to play the game and I was particularly impressed with O’Quinn. When matched up against Andre Drummond, he didn’t back down an inch. He made the All-Summer League Second Team, while Nicholson made the First Team with Stephenson.

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Jared Sullinger made the Second Team as well and rightfully so. Though a bit undersized for the PF spot, he clearly knows how to use his body to create space. He’s a smart player and I don’t think he’ll have any problem contributing at the next level.

Malik Wayns was probably the feel-good story of the Orlando Pro Summer League. An undrafted point guard out of Villanova, he’s currently on the Golden State Warriors Summer League squad. Since Golden State wasn’t playing in Vegas until a few weeks later, he played in the Orlando Pro Summer League with the Magic. He was very impressive and you often wonder how he went undrafted. Though Golden State already has Stephen Curry and Charles Jenkins as a very capable backup, I’m hoping Wayns makes the team as a third point guard.

NBA Summer League 2012 got underway in Las Vegas on July 11. The quality was noticeably better than in Orlando and several players stood out for me. In no particular order they are:


Klay Thompson
Jeremy Lamb
Royce White
Donatas Motiejunas
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Terrence Jones
Tyshawn Taylor
Jeffrey Taylor
Terrence Ross
Charlotte Bobcats

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Klay Thompson looks like he’s too good for the Summer League and this should be his last year here. He’s got incredible range and a beautiful jump shot. He’s smart and he knows how to play.

Jeremy Lamb has been fantastic. He has a really smooth jumper and is excellent on jumpers coming off screens. Royce White is probably my new favorite player. One of the summer league announcers (Rick Mahorn, I think) likened him to Charles Barkley. He can shoot, run, pass, rebound, etc. He’ll be a Fantasy Basketball dream.

Montiejunas was a real surprise. That guy can really play. He’s active, runs the floor really well, can shoot and rebound. Terrence Jones has been a beast too. He’s just scoring and rebounding really well. Houston got themselves 3 excellent rookies.

Tyshawn Taylor has looked very good early on. He reminds me a bit of Mario Chalmers in that he’s got good size and should be a plus defender in the NBA. He’s clearly been coached well and should be a solid backup point guard for a long time.

Terrence Ross really impressed as well. He’s going to be very good. Many thought Toronto reached for him on draft night. I think he’ll end up being better than some of the guys that were drafted ahead of him.

I only saw their first game but was incredibly impressed with how hard the Bobcats played. They put on a full court press for most of the game, though I'm not sure if they can maintain that over a full season. More impressively, everyone seemed to be having fun and the guys really seemed to be enjoying competing and playing defense.

MKG is as advertised. His jumper needs some work but he’s fantastic in the open floor and can get to the rim in the half court much better than I thought he could. Kemba Walker was also very good. The two of them bring so much passion to the game that it infects everyone else.

I really like Jeffrey Taylor as well. He’s big, can defend three positions, and can hit the outside shot. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people. I like what Charlotte is doing. Barring injury, I think they’re going to win more than people expect this year. As a basketball fan, it was fun to watch how hard they compete.

Despite all the trade rumors surrounding Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard, it’s been a lot of fun watching the players on display in NBA Summer League 2012.

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