Vegas Summer League 2012: Austin Rivers and the 7 Biggest Disappointments so Far
Some NBA types have been distracted by the ongoing soap opera in Orlando, but the Vegas Summer League has continued to plod along out west.
Summer league is not the be-all-end-all for young players, but it's a good place to showcase how college skills may translate to the big leagues.
So far, a number of players have made a lasting impression in the minds of scouts, looking far more polished and NBA-ready than they were expected to be (I'm looking at you, Damian Lillard and Josh Selby).
But on the other side of the coin, we've also seen a number of players struggle, making it clear that they have work to do before they contribute in the Association.
Here are seven guys who have stood out for the wrong reasons.
SG Will Barton (POR)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Stats: 31.0 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 28.6% FG, 16.7% 3FG
Barton was tabbed as one of the sleepers in the 2012 Draft, someone who shouldn't have slipped into the second round. Blazers owner Paul Allen has an alleged man-crush on him too; un-sourced rumors say he urged GM Neil Olshey to trade up for Barton once the guard fell past No. 22 in the draft (via Rotoworld).
But Barton has failed to impress thus far in Vegas, looking significantly less-equipped to make an immediate impact than fellow rookies Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard.
The rangy athleticism and scoring ability are there just as advertised, but unfortunately, the shoddy decision-making and shot selection are as well.
Barton was pegged as a project and that appears to be a fair assessment as he's shooting 28.6-percent in Vegas.
PG/SG Jimmer Fredette (SAC)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Stats: 28.8 MPG, 18.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 35.8% FG, 21.9% 3FG
It's still early, but Jimmer is close to being the newest inclusion on the list of transcendent college players who couldn't cut it in the Association.
Jimmer's hoisted 67 shots––including 32 threes––through five games, and only has an inefficient 18 PPG to show for it.
He's cancer to a functional offense, too, dribbling the ball far longer than his coaches would like him to, preventing his team from getting into their sets.
With the signing of Aaron Brooks and the emergence of Isaiah Thomas, the writing may be on the wall for Jimmer's exit from Sacramento. And it may be happening sooner rather than later.
SF/PF Draymond Green (GSW)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Stats: 24.3 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 22.7% FG, 20.0% 3FG
Jimmer's not the only guy on this list with "transcendent college player who couldn't hang in the pros" potential.
Draymond got off to a solid start in Golden State's first contest, but since then he's looked overwhelmed by the size and length of the NBA Summer League. And if he can't hang with these guys, imagine how he'll fare once he plays with the real pros.
Draymond is hard to discount, though; he's got a Spartan's resolve, and a few plus skills that should translate to the league. If he gets humbled in his first year, you can be sure he'll come back significantly better in year two.
But the notion that Green is an immediate "plug-and-play" contributor might be a tad quixotic.
PG/SG Austin Rivers (NO)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Stats: 32.0 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 21.1% FG, 12.5% 3FG
Rivers has played with his patented self-assurance in Vegas, but it's yet to translate into tangible results.
In two games, Rivers shot an odious 4-19 from the field, including 1-8 from three range. In fairness to him, the whole offense has looked out of sorts, but Rivers is definitely a bigger part of the problem than he is the solution.
Ultimately, his future might be as a streaky bench scorer, what Bill Simmons would call "an irrational confidence guy." It's not necessarily a bad thing––a lot of teams need a guy who isn't afraid to shoot––but it's not enough to justify a top-ten pick.
PF Thomas Robinson (SAC)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Stats: 29.6 MPG, 13.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 34.4% FG
Robinson has been eager to impress thus far––perhaps a little too eager.
He's launched 64 shots in five games which, coupled with Jimmer Fredette's 67, makes up 36-percent of the Kings' summer league shot attempts.
Like Jimmer, Robinson's shooting hasn't warranted the amount of shots he's taking. He's only making 34-percent of his field goals, a figure he compounds by shooting 54-percent from the foul line.
Robinson has, at least, looked good on the boards, ripping down almost ten per game. But playing next to Boogie Cousins as a rookie, he would be best served to quit the "I swear I have a post game" act and focus on cleaning up the glass.
PF Larry Sanders (MIL)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Stats: 23.5 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.0 BPG, 30.8% FG
Sanders appears to be falling out of favor in Milwaukee, where they've already stockpiled a number of well-qualified players to replace him.
Drafted 15th overall in 2010, Sanders has been little more than a glorified shot blocker in his first two years, despite finding generous playing time for the Bucks.
And while a great shot blocker is always helpful, Sanders still has a problem: they just drafted one in John Henson.
Henson has two years less NBA experience than Sanders and is already outplaying him in Vegas––the former Tar Heel is averaging 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in two games.
Between Henson and Ekpe Udoh, the Bucks have enough going for them in the "long, athletic power forward" department, and may not need Sanders' services for very long.
SG Dion Waiters (CLE)
Stats: 30.0 MPG, 12.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 30.0% FG, 16.7% 3FG
Waiters was lauded for his ability––and willingness––to attack, but in Vegas he's been attacking a little too hard.
That is, he's been driving with his head down, blinkered to everything on the court other than the basket.
He's hoisted up 40 shots and 15 free throws in three games, volume that warrants much more than 37 points.
Waiters is getting a crash course on life outside the NCAA this summer, struggling to impose his will against equally-athletic defenders. He's got room to grow, but he doesn't look like he's ready to play a big role quite yet.