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NBA Summer League 2012: Players to Watch During Final Weekend of Action

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 15:  Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors in action against the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena on February 15, 2012 in Oakland, 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)
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Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2012

Two weeks of NBA Summer League action will come to an end on Sunday in Las Vegas. Even though the games might not seem important to a casual basketball fan, don't tell that to the players who are using them as a chance to further their careers.

While there have been no shortage of impressive performances, some players have stood out from the pack. Let's take a look at three young stars who fall into that category and are worth checking out over the final weekend.


Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)

Needing to fill their void at point guard, the Trail Blazers used the sixth overall pick to select Lillard. He dominated in college at Weber State, but it was unknown how quickly he would be able to transition after playing against small-school competition.

So far, so good. Lillard is averaging an astonishing 28 points in 33 minutes per game. He's also chipping in five assists and four rebounds to go along with solid shooting percentages. There hasn't been any indication that he'll struggle at the next level.

Portland has some really nice young players on their roster, most notably Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge. Adding Lillard to the mix should make their offense even more dynamic, making them a team to watch in the coming years.


Klay Thompson (Warriors)

Thompson saw his role with the Warriors increase throughout his rookie season. By April, he was seeing nearly 34 minutes per game and was averaging 19 points. So his Summer League appearances are simply to gain more experience. Golden State knows he can play.

The swingman deserves credit for taking these games seriously. Somebody who had that type of success at the NBA level could easily blow these games off, but he's made a real effort to improve his game. He's averaging 21 points, six rebounds and five assists after two games.

Looking ahead, the biggest thing he needs to work on is attacking the rim. He has a great jumper, but teams are eventually going to force him off a spot, which means he needs to figure out another way to score. He should work on that this weekend.


Tobias Harris (Bucks)

After only seeing limited playing time in his rookie season, Harris is making a strong case to see the floor a little bit more next fall. The Tennessee product is averaging 21 points and eight rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the floor.

The Bucks are looking for somebody to emerge at the small forward position and Harris' performances should at least earn him a chance at winning a starting spot. It's clear he has really worked on improving his defense, an essential factor for extended minutes.

He has the all-around ability to succeed at the small forward spot. It will just come down to becoming more consistent on both ends of the floor. That's why these games in the middle of July are often key to a player like Harris.


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