Here we go again. The NBA season never really ends.
The playoffs are still visible in the rear-view and the NBA draft feels like it just took place yesterday. With Summer League play ramping up and free agency in full swing, it won’t be long before the regular season is underway.
And, in looking ahead, we’re also inclined to do some prognostication involving the top rookies we’ll see play this year. With Summer League now underway, that task is a little easier.
The Orlando Summer League tipped off July 7 with a series of games featuring some tremendous young talent. Immediately after its completion on July 12, the Las Vegas edition fires up—same story.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top players from the 2013 NBA draft and break down some projections for their Summer League campaigns. It’s just Summer League, but come on, it’s basketball.
Victor Oladipo, G, Orlando Magic
Projection: 16 points, six assists, seven rebounds and five turnovers per game
Oladipo was impressive in his first Summer League outing, posting an 18-point, six-rebound, seven-assist performance as he tries his hand at the point guard position.
The Indiana product may not ultimately end up at the point when all is said and done, but he did enough to warrant a closer look as the summer competition continues. Given Orlando’s willingness to take him with the No. 2 pick, Oladipo will be in line for consistent minutes as the Magic put their new toy on display.
Trey Burke, PG, Utah Jazz
Projection: 12 points, nine assists, four rebounds and six turnovers per game
No one questioned Trey Burke’s standing as the best scoring point guard in this draft class, but concerns of his size (6’1”) were certainly manifested in his debut.
Burke shot just 1-of-12 from the field in Utah’s opener, including an 0-for-4 mark from behind the arc. He did dish out five assists and tally seven rebounds while turning it over just twice, but the concerns remain.
Look to see an uptick in the Michigan product’s points and assists as the Summer League continues, but don’t expect Burke to light it up from the field until he gets further acclimated to playing against NBA defenses.
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Projection: 19 points, nine assists, five rebounds and seven turnovers per game
Carter-Williams is an enigma. Of all the player in this rookie class, he may be the hardest to peg.
The former Syracuse point guard desperately needs to develop a consistent jump shot to be an effective NBA scorer, but Philadelphia was willing to overlook that in favor of his size, defensive prowess and pick-and-roll abilities.
Few of those traits were on display in the team’s opener.
Carter-Williams did score 26 points and dish out eight assists, but he also turned the ball over nine times and looked like a liability in the pick-and-roll game. From the looks of that performance, it’s best to take a wait-and-see approach on Philadelphia’s new point guard.
Kelly Olynyk, F-C, Boston Celtics
Projection: 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists per game; 55 percent shooting from field
Boston may have found the versatile big man they wanted in the first round in Olynyk.
While the Gonzaga forward-center isn’t a dominant inside presence, he is the type of stretch-4 who can be extremely successful in his formative NBA years. In the Celtics’ first Summer League contest, Olynyk displayed that shooting prowess with a 9-of-12 performance from the field.
Look for the seven-footer to continue impressing with his shooting ability en route to a solid Summer League campaign.
C.J. McCollum, G, Portland Trail Blazers
Projection: 18 points, eight assists, three rebounds and five turnovers per game
Much of what McCollum does this summer will depend on how well he integrates himself into a backcourt fueled by 2012 Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the two coexist, to say the least. McCollum is a quintessential combo guard who doesn’t have the length of a prototypical 2-guard but lacks the facilitative skills inherent in NBA point guards. He’s a big question mark.
Still, the Lehigh product is a tremendous shooter with all the offensive skills to make a splash. And he’ll be arguably the most interesting rookie to watch in Summer League play.
Ben McLemore, SG, Sacramento Kings
Projection: Nine points, four assists, seven rebounds per game, 34 percent shooting from distance
McLemore could have found himself in a better situation.
Sacramento hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of rookie success in recent years, brought on by a ton of organizational instability. For a player already facing some questions, that’s not a good thing.
But the Kansas sharpshooter could easily silence naysayers with a quality Summer League performance. Erring on the side of caution, I’m guessing things get a little worse before they get better.
Otto Porter, SF, Washington Wizards
Projection: 13 points, three assists, 10 rebounds and two turnovers per game
Porter has a chance to do some special things in Washington, and he’ll look to prove that this summer.
The versatile forward is a well-rounded player who is at least average in nearly every facet of the game. He doesn’t excel in any particular area, but he’s the perfect complement to John Wall and Bradley Beal.
As such, Porter will have a chance to stand out in Summer League play, and he’ll take full advantage with a solid, efficient stat line.
Cody Zeller, F-C, Charlotte Bobcats
Projection: 15 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks per game; 59 percent shooting from field
Zeller may have been the most underrated player in this entire draft class—and that’s saying something.
Charlotte’s selection of the Indiana big man wasn’t a popular one, but I have a feeling Zeller is going to prove a lot of people wrong very early in his career.
Exceptionally athletic and sneaky-strong, Zeller will turn some heads with multiple double-doubles in his Summer League campaign.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Detroit Pistons
Projection: Eight points, six assists, five rebounds per game, 39 percent shooting from field
Caldwell-Pope shot 1-of-10 from the field in his debut and turned the ball over four times. Not good.
Detroit needs Caldwell-Pope to step up this summer and prove he can be the perimeter scorer they need to pair with Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Unfortunately, he didn’t look to be ready for the challenge in the team’s opener.
Still, rookies are under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform in Summer League competition, and Caldwell-Pope may have just needed some time to shake off the jitters. We’ll see if he can rebound in the remainder of the Pistons’ Summer League schedule.