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Golden State Warriors: Final Summer League Grades

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 9, 2016

Golden State Warriors: Final Summer League Grades

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    After a little over a week, the Las Vegas Summer League has come and gone. The Golden State Warriors are riding high after a franchise-record 5-0 performance.

    It's something of a tired refrain that Summer League doesn't count for much. Just ask Anthony Randolph.

    The environment is unstructured and the competition is untested, so it's hard to draw many meaningful conclusions from games played in July.

    Still, they're all we've got to go on at this point. So with grains of salt in hand, let's give some final grades to the Warriors' most important young guns for their Summer League performances.

Klay Thompson

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    Might as well get this one out of the way. Klay Thompson simply didn't belong in Summer League this season. He proved it was beneath him.

    That obvious reality, combined with Thompson's double duties with the USA Select team, earned him a seat on the bench after just two games. Warriors management saw what everyone else saw: Thompson was playing on another level and had little to gain by continuing to suit up.

    The risk of wearing him out wasn't worth it. Plus, the other young Warriors constantly deferred to Thompson. As long as he was playing, the rookies weren't going to get a chance to assume more important roles.

    Before he was forced to take a seat, Thompson shot the lights out. In his two games in Vegas, Thompson scorched the nets to the tune of 52 percent shooting from the field. He also went 10-for-14 from three. Shooting aside, he averaged six rebounds and 4.5 assists in under 30 minutes of action per game.

    Confidence brimming from his successful week of scrimmages against Team USA, Thompson dominated in Vegas. His summer could not possibly have been more impressive.

    Final Grade: A+

Harrison Barnes

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    Harrison Barnes showed great potential and a few flaws in Vegas. The Warriors' No. 7 pick has more talent than he knows what to do with, which is a blessing and a curse at this juncture.

    There's no question he played better with Klay Thompson around to share the scoring load. In those games, Barnes enjoyed plenty of open looks—and he took advantage, nailing all six of his three-point attempts against the LA Lakers and Denver Nuggets.

    Barnes displayed a polished game, solid athleticism and pretty decent shot selection—a point of criticism he's dealt with since his days at North Carolina.

    Once Thompson was out of the lineup, though, Barnes' shortcomings were more exposed. In the final three games of the Summer League, Barnes was the Warriors' primary offensive option. With increased defensive focus on him, Barnes struggled to limit his bad shots. He fell into a pattern of taking the ball to trouble and forcing up contested jumpers from the wings and elbows.

    However, despite that persistent problem, Barnes showed that he's exceptionally confident and comfortable in an alpha dog role.

    He even got a little grittier as the games wore on. In the Warriors' final two games, Barnes did a better job of penetrating deeper into the defense and drawing contact at the rim. He shot 11 free throws in those two games.

    Barnes absolutely has the athletic ability to become a complete offensive player. He already has an NBA stroke and his off-the-dribble skills will develop with a little work. He's also got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, which is always good.

    Defensively, he's bought into the Warriors' purported culture change as much as anyone. He's got the size and quickness to become an above-average defensive presence on the wing.

    Overall, his game has a few warts, but the potential is undeniable. Barnes has an All-Star ceiling—but it'll only be reachable if Barnes addresses some of the issues we saw in Vegas.

    Final Grade: B

Draymond Green

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    Draymond Green's Summer League stats don't look great, but they also fail to tell the whole story.

    In five games, Green averaged 6.4 points on 28 percent shooting. He pulled down 7.6 rebounds and averaged 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals and five personal fouls per contest.

    Unimpressive, right?

    With Green, though, Summer League proved that his numbers don't measure his contributions. Green was the Warriors' most active defensive player. And for a team that is telling anyone who'll listen that they're going to be a defense-first organization, that's an important role.

    Green's obviously high IQ showed through in Vegas. He helped at the right times, pointed other Warriors to the appropriate spots and constantly won battles for loose balls.

    He also tapped out a number of rebounds (a skill he's wisely perfected, given the fact that he's not going to out-jump many NBA athletes).

    On the whole, Green played with the head of a 10-year NBA veteran and the unbridled enthusiasm of a rookie. It was clear that he was pressing to show that he belonged, which resulted in a huge number of hustle-induced fouls. Green committed 25 in five games.

    Overall, Green's smarts and hustle are going to make him a fan favorite. They'll also keep him in the rotation, even when he doesn't put up huge scoring numbers.

    Final Grade: B+

Charles Jenkins

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    Charles Jenkins' scoring numbers looked pretty good in Vegas. He averaged 14.2 points per game on 51 percent shooting. But he's always been able to score.

    At Hofstra, Jenkins averaged 19.6 points per game overall and 22.6 in his senior year.

    It's the other parts of his game, particularly his point guard skills, that raised some serious questions during Summer League.

    Statistically, Jenkins failed as a primary ball-handler. He totaled 14 assists in five games, but matched that figure with just as many turnovers.

    Even worse, he constantly struggled to simply bring the ball over half court against pressure. In the first quarter of the Warriors' second-to-last game against Chicago, he had his pocket picked three times and threw the ball away in a half-court set. It was clear that opponents knew Jenkins' handle was shaky and that a little pressure could induce some turnovers.

    He also proved to be a very poor orchestrator on the pick-and-roll, constantly overdribbling and rarely making the right decision. When defenses hedged, he allowed himself to be pushed away from the basket. He never split the defense and didn't once make a skip pass after turning the corner on the pick.

    Jenkins is not a point guard. He can score a little bit, but that's not something the Warriors need. With Jarrett Jack in town, Jenkins' won't see many minutes backing up at the point. And with Klay Thompson, Barnes and (hopefully) Brandon Rush all capable of scoring from the wing, he may be the last man on the bench.

    Final Grade: D+

Festus Ezeli

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    Things we knew before Summer League:

    • Festus Ezeli is really big
    • Festus Ezeli can defend the post
    • Festus Ezeli has no offensive skills
    • Festus Ezeli is a project

    Things we knew after summer league:

    • See above

    In short, Ezeli came as advertised. He's a raw, offensively limited big man with some potential. He may be forced to learn on the job this season, as Andris Biedrins can't be counted on for much of anything these days.

    As a backup center, Ezeli will commit hard fouls and block some shots (he averaged two per game in just 20 minutes during Summer League). That'll actually be an improvement over what Biedrins provided last year.

    More importantly, he's only going to improve as he continues to play—which is good, because he looked awfully unpolished in Vegas.

    Oh, and he can make his free throws—Ezeli was 6-for-10 in five games. Take that, Andris.

    Final Grade: C+

Jeremy Tyler

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    Tyler continues to tantalize Warrior fans with glimpses of hope amid otherwise ineffective performances. He had just one game that could be qualified as "decent"—against Miami, he scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 19 minutes.

    Other than that, Tyler played sparingly. But the biggest problem—and this is one of the worst things you can say about a player—was that you often didn't even notice when he was on the floor.

    Tyler has become the master of the disappearing act. In games against the Lakers, Nuggets and Hornets, Tyler had no impact at all. He never cracked the 20-minute barrier in any contest in Vegas.

    It's hard to say why Tyler played so few minutes. On the one hand, he's pretty much assured a roster spot. So it's possible the Warriors simply wanted to take a longer look at the other frontcourt hopefuls on the roster. But on the other hand, Tyler is younger than just about everyone in Vegas, and probably has just as much to prove.

    Suffice it to say that Tyler didn't get many opportunities to prove himself. But in the limited chances he got, he didn't exactly blow the doors off the gym. Aside from a couple of highlight dunks against Miami, Tyler was a no-show.

    Final Grade: C-

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