5 NBA Rookies Guaranteed to Turn Heads During 2013 Summer League
It's time to see what some of these rookies have to offer.
Summer league is here, and it is an awfully exciting time to be an NBA fan. We get to see what our favorite team's youngsters bring to the table, and sometimes, diamonds in the rough are discovered and dreams are realized.
Given how unpredictable the 2013 draft was, we can only assume that summer league will be equally as capricious.
Which rookies are you most excited to see this summer?
C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
In C.J. McCollum, the Portland Trail Blazers may have come away with the best scorer in the draft.
This is a kid who averaged 23.9 points on 49.5-percent shooting in 2012-13, hitting an insane 51.6 percent of his three-point attempts. Of course, he missed the final 19 games of the season with a broken foot, but those numbers are still impressive regardless.
While McCollum (6'3") may be a bit undersized to play shooting guard, he will have no choice but to man that position with the Trail Blazers because Damian Lillard has the point-guard spot on lock. The funny thing is, McCollum is awfully similar to Lillard.
Both McCollum and Lillard went to small schools (Lehigh and Weber State, respectively), both were scoring point guards in college and both are now members of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Look for McCollum to display his scoring prowess from the get-go in summer league. Portland may very well have found itself the best player in the 2013 draft class.
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
Most felt that Ben McLemore was a top-three pick. He ended up falling all the way to the Sacramento Kings at No. 7 and now he has a chip on his shoulder.
Plain and simple, McLemore is a freak. He is an outstanding shooter who is also blessed with unearthly athleticism. It almost seems as if he is a sure thing in the NBA.
McLemore may have actually been a bit fortunate to have fallen so far, as he has found a nice spot with the Kings. He should be able to develop a solid inside-out game with DeMarcus Cousins, and he now has a very capable point guard in Greivis Vasquez (not to mention Isaiah Thomas) to feed him the rock.
Expect the Kansas product to shine in summer league, demonstrating his beautiful shooting stroke and uncanny ability to do anything he wants offensively. Not only that, but McLemore is a pretty nice defender. That tends to get lost in translation when everyone gushes over his offensive repertoire.
Shane Larkin, Dallas Mavericks
A sharpshooting point guard out of Miami, many considered Shane Larkin to be one of the bigger sleepers heading into the draft.
He is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, a team that was in dire need of a floor general coming into this summer. They have since addressed that problem by picking up Larkin and signing the likes of Jose Calderon (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports) and Devin Harris (per Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas), but even with the competition at the 1, the Mavericks will be grooming Larkin to be their point guard of the future.
The 5'11" speedster averaged 14.5 points on 47.9-percent shooting in his sophomore year with the Hurricanes, hitting on 40.6 percent of his three-point tries. Also, don't let his meager number of 4.6 assists fool you. Larkin has solid point-guard skills, including great handles and floor smarts.
While Larkin may never be a star at the NBA level, there is a very good chance he ends up being quite successful.
Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota Timberwolves
One of the most polarizing players in the draft, Shabazz Muhammad has a lot to prove in his rookie season, and it starts during summer league.
Considered one of the top NCAA prospects going into the 2012-13 campaign, Muhammad's stock dropped significantly as the season progressed. Not only was he not as dominant as many had anticipated, but news also broke that he and his family had lied about his age, per the Los Angeles Times.
All of that aside, Muhammad is still a supremely talented player, and he has the potential to develop into one of the better wing scorers in the game. He has a solid all-around feel on the offensive end, possessing a nice blend of strength and quickness that he uses to will his way to the basket.
With the Minnesota Timberwolves in need of perimeter scoring, they will be counting on Muhammad to step up and get the job done. He will show them they made the right decision in bringing him aboard this summer.
Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves
Had to throw in one sleeper on this list.
While Gorgui Dieng may never be a star, he very well could end up being one of the most productive and consistent players of this draft class.
Dieng is a very good defender and rebounder and could turn into a Joakim Noah or Serge Ibaka type of player at the NBA level.
Along with his defense and presence on the glass, Dieng's offensive game is steadily improving, and he is an outstanding passer for a big man.
Dieng is not going to be someone who averages 20 and 12, but 12 and 10 is certainly within the realm of possibility as he becomes an integral piece of the Timberwolves' rebuilding process.