NBA Summer League 2013: Analyzing Rookies Every Fan Can't Wait to See
The 2013 NBA Summer League is filled with many of the recent draft's top rookies, and it is a time to mold and experiment with the recent college products as they make transitions to the professional level.
Taking to the court are several first-year studs that any basketball fan should be able to appreciate and be eager to see. Top overall pick Anthony Bennett of the Cleveland Cavaliers is still recovering from a shoulder injury and won't participate, but there are still plenty of intriguing players to monitor.
Let's take a closer look at those who are standing out thus far in these brief five-game showcases and other rookies to keep an eye on ahead of the 2013-14 season.
Note: All statistics, video and summer league information are courtesy of NBA.com.
Victor Oladipo, G, Orlando Magic
As solid as Oladipo is in terms of his all-around game, the knock on him is turning the ball over and not having ideal ball-handling skills. Orlando believes its No. 2 overall pick can handle running the show at point guard, so that's where Oladipo has played this summer.
Typically a 2-guard with the rebounding capability and relentlessness to play small forward, this shows just how much versatility Oladipo brings to the team that finished last year with the NBA's worst record.
Oladipo hasn't enjoyed a completely graceful transition to his new position, and his flaws have been on display, but that's precisely what the Magic hope to iron out in the summer.
Should it eventually click for Oladipo, he could be an asset in Orlando during the impending regular season and will still have training camp to experiment with the spot. Plus, head coach Jacque Vaughn was a veteran point guard in the NBA, which can't hurt Oladipo's adjustment.
Through four NBA Summer League contests, Oladipo's shooting hasn't been all that good, at 37 percent, but he's gotten to the rim frequently and managed 19 points per game. That included hitting the game-winnning jumper in the Magic's 90-89 win over the Philadelphia 76ers:
Oladipo has also averaged 4.3 rebounds and five assists and has shown his defensive prowess with three steals per outing.
Ben McLemore, SG, Sacramento Kings
Which NBA Summer League rookie are you most excited for in 2013-14?
The next-highest pick involved in summertime hoops is this Kansas product, who played just one year for the Jayhawks and has an incredible amount of upside.
Higher picks such as the Bobcats' Cody Zeller or newly minted Washington Wizard Otto Porter Jr. aren't quite as flashy or explosive as McLemore, who boasts a rare combination of physical gifts and pure shooting talent.
In fact, the quick release McLemore uses and his swift, fluid movement on the court make him especially lethal coming off screens. Kings assistant coach Dee Brown recently heaped some incredibly high praise on the young scoring machine, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones:
Dee Brown did say Ben McLemore's catch-and-shoot game is as good as anyone he's seen in the last 20 years.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) July 10, 2013
Sacramento's backcourt has been convoluted and inconsistent in recent seasons, so the hope is that McLemore can provide some solidity and surefire star power for years to come.
The Kings squad has yet to tip off in Las Vegas, but many eyes will be on McLemore to see how he handles his first taste of NBA action and how much of a factor he can be in his maiden NBA campaign.
Kelly Olynyk, C, Boston Celtics
The 7-footer out of Gonzaga probably wasn't tabbed as one of the marquee rookies to watch prior to the beginning of summer league play, but that perception has been turned on its head.
Olynyk has matched Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson for the summer league lead in points per game with 19.5, but he's played four games to Jackson's two.
Other impressive elements are that the ostensibly finesse Olynyk has pulled down eight rebounds and that he's also surprisingly registered 2.3 steals per game thus far.
Fouls and turnovers have been prevalent, too, but those numbers are at least a testament to how aggressive Olynyk has been.
More great news for Celtics fans is that Olynyk is enthused about the hiring of former Butler head coach Brad Stevens, whom Olynyk praises as a mastermind, per Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe:
Kelly Olynyk on Brad Stevens: “I really respect him, I think he’s a great basketball mind, absolute genius kind of thing."— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) July 7, 2013
Perhaps the Celtics won't be in rebuilding mode after all this season. If Olynyk's play in the summer league is any indication, he can stretch the floor with his massive size and benefit from Rajon Rondo's prowess in pick-and-roll situations—assuming Rondo returns in a timely fashion from his torn ACL.
Regardless of what exactly the future holds, Olynyk has been the best of the rookies in the summer league. Anticipation should only build for what his immediate future holds, thanks to an unusually refined offensive skill set for someone his size.
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