NBA Summer League 2012: Damian Lillard and Most Impressive Rookies Thus Far
There is the temptation to foretell doom when rookies struggle at Summer League and sing songs of joy when they play well, but as we all know, the games in Las Vegas are not a definitive forecast of a player's career.
The competition is less fierce, the rookies are learning new techniques and styles of play and it's always an adjustment moving up a level.
With that said, it's fun to see players who have adjusted well and are tearing up the courts in Vegas. Let's take a look at the rookies who are making an early impact.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
All Lillard has done after two Summer League games is average 26 points and 3.5 assists. Sure, it's just the Summer League, but Lillard has come out strong and already has the look of a future All-Star.
This season there will be a lot of pressure on Lillard, who will be expected to log serious minutes while manning the point guard position for Portland. Thus far, it seems clear he'll be more than up for the challenge.
Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets
Scoff if you want, but after his first four games Jones is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. One of the intriguing storylines for the Kentucky players selected in this draft will be seeing how they respond in new NBA roles.
The entire squad had to sacrifice elements of their games to fit into the collegiate All-Star team John Calipari put together last year. But separated, will we see an evolved game from players like Jones or Doron Lamb?
Thus far, Jones looks like he might have a few tricks up his sleeve. He's even put to rest the claims that he's not a hard worker, as he's been energetic on the court. All around, he's been impressive.
Jeremy Lamb, Houston Rockets
Let's stick with Houston for a moment. Jeremy Lamb is averaging 20 points a game on 47 percent shooting from the field thus far in Las Vegas.
Not too shabby.
Houston's trio of mid-first round draft picks were once thought to be Dwight Howard sweeteners. But if Lamb and Jones continue to impress come the regular season—and Royce White adjusts to the next level—the Rockets could have a very nice foundation for the future on their hands.
Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers
Who will be the best NBA player?
While fellow rookie Dion Waiters has struggled and is obviously out of shape, Zeller has been excellent. After his first three Summer League games, he's averaging 14.3 points and eight rebounds and has impressed with his well-rounded game and shooting range.
Waiters has star potential, while Zeller's projects as a hard-working, steady player who will never shine but will be a valuable commodity. Thus far, the Cavs have to be happy with how far along he already is.
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