The 2013 NBA Summer League is under way in Orlando, but the grandest stage of the season is not yet upon us. That event, of course, is the Las Vegas Summer League, where the top prospects and young stars come together for one final clash.
The question is, which undrafted rookies ho must impress in Las Vegas?
Certain players have secured their spot on a roster but have yet to prove that they can compete at the NBA level. Others have been invited to participate in the Las Vegas Summer League but haven't yet clinched their place at the next level.
One way or another, the following undrafted rookies are under the most pressure to impress in Las Vegas.
Vander Blue, Memphis Grizzlies
Position: Shooting Guard
Height and Weight: 6'5", 197 pounds (6'6" wingspan)
2012-13 Season Averages
16.50 PER, 14.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG
Arguably the most surprising entrant of the 2013 NBA draft was Marquette Golden Eagles shooting guard Vander Blue. Fresh off a breakout performance in the NCAA tournament, Blue appeared to be primed and ready to become an NBA prospect in 2014.
Instead, Blue wasted no time by entering the 2013 selection process and thus going undrafted.
Blue has the perfect opportunity to reach the NBA, attempting to join a Memphis Grizzlies team that doesn't have a future at shooting guard. Tony Allen is an elite perimeter defender, but offensively, Memphis doesn't have much going for it along the perimeter.
Blue could help in that regard.
His jump shot remains raw, but Blue has excellent size at 6'5" and is one of this class' top slashing scorers. Blessed with the rare clutch gene, Blue has the look and pure ability of an NBA sixth man.
If he fails to put those abilities on display in Las Vegas, however, coming out early may be a decision he forever regrets.
C.J. Leslie, New York Knicks
Height and Weight: 6'9", 209 pounds (7'2" wingspan)
2012-13 Season Averages
20.00 PER, 15.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.0 SPG
Entering the 2013 NBA draft, most analysts and fans had C.J. Leslie as a borderline first-round draft choice. The North Carolina State star displayed minimal progression during his time in college, but his physical gifts had taken the world by storm.
While the New York Knicks may have signed him to a partially guaranteed contract, Leslie will need to step up at the Las Vegas Summer League to prove he's ready to contribute in 2013-14.
Leslie stands at 6'9" with a 7'2" wingspan, thus possessing the body type to play the power forward position. As a player with rangy lateral quickness and explosive leaping ability, Leslie is more than capable of playing the 3.
That positional versatility could make him a valuable player for an aging Knicks squad in 2013-14.
If Leslie is able to step up and prove that his jump shot and post game have improved, he could see early playing time. Should he continue to be an athletically gifted player with an unpolished skill set, however, there may not be a place for him in 2013-14.
The signing has been overhyped due to his reputation and the team he's with, but Leslie is an intriguing player—it's all about him proving that he has some substance to his athleticism.
Durand Scott, San Antonio Spurs
Height and Weight: 6'5", 198 pounds (6'8" wingspan)
2012-13 Season Averages
18.27 PER, 13.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.5 SPG
The San Antonio Spurs have an abundance of three-point shooters and a superstar shooting guard on his last legs. While Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard may have carved out roles as starting perimeter players, and Manu Ginobili is headed to the Hall of Fame, the Spurs need to get younger along the bench.
Durand Scott must impress in Las Vegas to prove that he can provide that depth.
Scott is one of the best defenders in this draft class, displaying the ability to lock down players at both guard spots. While his offensive game may be raw, he possesses NBA upside with a massive 6'9" wingspan and intriguing athleticism.
If he fails to step up at the Summer League, however, the road to the NBA will grow longer.
Scott isn't an elite offensive player, as his ability to slash and facilitate is met by an average shooting stroke and no standout abilities. With this in mind, no matter how polished a defensive player he may be, his production will not jump off the page.
Should he lock his man down and display that defensive upside during the NBA Summer League, however, Scott could be a late addition to the Spurs roster and thus continue his pro career. If he comes up short, he could spend more time in Europe than the NBA.
Such is life for defensive-minded perimeter players without elite offensive ability.
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