One of the worst barometers for NBA talent is currently taking place in both Las Vegas and Orlando this month: the NBA Summer League. The likes of Randy Foye, Rodrique Beaubois and Nate Robinson have come away appearing to be major prizes for the teams that held their contracts.
While sometimes it actually is able to accurately illustrate futures for certain players (Blake Griffin), often it is just a chance for coaches to get a first glimpse of their new players, as well as a chance for some fringe guys to show their stuff.
If you flip it, the pressure is the same. Rookies get their first chance to show their new coaches what they have and the kind of effort their teammates should expect from them.
This year in particular is a chance for Adam Morrison to show off his spiffy new hair style. That’s why I’m watching the Summer League, anyway. The regular season isn’t too far away, though. That will be the real test. For now, predictions are the best anyone can do, unless you count the Summer League.
Anthony Davis is obviously the guy that people will be looking to for immediate impact. For now, he’s sitting at the end of a very talent-laden bench for Team USA. Chris Kaman, Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry have all left the Hornets.
In other words, there is plenty of room for immediate and substantial playing time. With Eric Gordon and even Austin Rivers standing by in New Orleans, along with plenty of room to improve on the offensive end, odds are his scoring won’t come in bunches right away. Defensively, he has all the tools to make an immediate impact.
Davis' college teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is likely in the same boat. With D.J. Augustin headed out of Charlotte, it leaves plenty of scoring to go around for the Bobcats. Kemba Walker is likely the guy to take advantage. MKG's high motor will make life easier for everyone on both ends of the floor.
The rookie with all the chances in the world to immediately lead his team in scoring will be Bradley Beal. With John Wall as his only real competition in Washington to carry the scoring load, everything is in the cards for Beal to compete hard for rookie of the year.
Damian Lillard’s scoring ability alone will give him a chance at the title as well. The guard situation in Portland is tricky. If Lillard has it in him, there will be plenty of chances to get easy shots from LaMarcus Aldridge double teams, along with is ability to create for himself.
The same goes for Dion Waiters for many of the same reasons Lillard has a chance. He has a point guard with the serious game in Kyrie Irving.
Despite the Irving/ Waiters combination, there is no combination more interesting to me than DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson. Both are able to hit from mid range and have plenty of touch close to the hoop.
The Kings managed to find a guy that compliments Cousins defensively as well. Along the same lines, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond have all the potential in the world to be a deadly inside duo.
Drummond’s offensive game is still too raw at this point for any immediate success, but the collective size and athleticism will at the very least cause size mismatches on frequent occasions in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
If there’s one duo that I’m not sure about, it’s the duo of rookies the Rockets picked. Houston started the draft nicely, selecting UConn’s Jeremy Lamb to subsequently pair up with fellow Jeremy, Jeremy Lin.
It’s the other two that don’t make much sense for Houston down the road. While I’m definitely a fan of Royce White and Terrence Jones as individual players, both are power forwards who simply are not quick enough to play full time at the 3.
Their original plan was to keep one of them, and use the other as a trading chip for the elusive Dwight Howard. Other than that, their future as a group will be intriguing. At the very least, Houston will have some very nice assets down the road.
The Warriors' offense fits Harrison Barnes very well. Any wing player that can score fits will in Golden State’s system; but the offensive arsenal that Barnes could develop might turn into something interesting.
It will be interesting to see how his game will work within the confines of an offense led by Stephen Curry. Curry isn’t a pass-first point guard (no need for him to be), so the ability for Barnes to create for himself might be a bit more necessary in Golden State than it would be in other fast-paced offensive schemes.
With Steve Nash leaving Phoenix for the Lakers, it provides an awesome opportunity for Kendall Marshall to show that while he won’t be on Nash's level, his passing will have people remembering what it’s like to have a young point guard.A young, skilled point guard with plenty of room to grow.
If I had a dark horse for rookie of the year honors, it would definitely be Marshall.
Conversely, Meyers Leonard is on my bust radar. Picked 11th by Portland, Leonard has all the size you would need in a big, along with skill. At Illinois, I was never impressed with his willingness to get dirty inside and make things happen with his strength and determination. To put it more simply, he’s too soft to be a big-time performer in the NBA.
All of these claims are merely predictions at this point. Making guarantees is for Pat Riley and Rasheed Wallace, and I am definitely not ready to join that company. Circumstances change all the time. Some players will pan out, others won't. Even in this deep of a draft.
The 2003 draft, considered by some as the best draft of the last 20 years, still had its top 10 rounded out by Mike Sweetney and Jarvis Hayes.