NBA Summer League 2013: Players Under Pressure to Step Up in Las Vegas

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 27:  Otto Porter of Georgetown reacts after he was drafted #3 overall in the first round by the Washington Wizards during the 2013 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 27, 2013 in in the Brooklyn Bourough of New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Summer League is a proving ground. Every player who takes part in one of the NBA offseason's highlight events is being asked by his team to showcase why he deserves opportunities heading into the next season.

Some rising stars thrive in the competitive environment, in which every player is trying to make a statement, while others wilt under the pressure. Either way, their performances will have a major impact as coaches begin to prepare their rotations moving forward.

With that in mind, let's examine three players who were selected early in the draft and are now expected to stand out in Las Vegas. For more information about the action, including results and schedules, visit the summer league's official site.

 

Otto Porter (Washington Wizards)

Porter attracted a lot of attention during the draft process because of his versatility. He's the type of player who's capable of making his presence felt, even if he's forced to take a backseat offensively at times, which could be the case for a healthy Wizards squad.

He's got the size to guard forwards and the athleticism to defend shooting guards. He's active in passing lanes and can block shots. The Georgetown alum even flashed good distribution skills for a swingman, making him nearly the complete package.

The biggest question mark during the summer league will come on the offensive end. Porter can either assert himself offensively and try to establish himself as a pure scorer or focus more on the team aspect, as he often did with the Hoyas. Washington probably wants to see the aggression.

 

Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings)

McLemore slid to No. 7 in the draft after generating some hype as a potential top-three selection. The summer league is his first chance to prove the doubters wrong. For him, it all comes down to lighting up the scoreboard.

A pure jump-shooter with a sweet stroke, McLemore has the potential to become an explosive scorer at the NBA level. He averaged 16 points per game at Kansas while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and 42 percent from long range.

Sacramento will want to see his entire array of offensive weapons. Whether it's knocking down outside shots, keeping defenders honest with the mid-range game or driving the lane and throwing down highlight-reel dunks. He needs to show it all off in Las Vegas.

 

Shabazz Muhammad (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Muhammad can score in catch-and-shoot situations. His 18 points per game at UCLA illustrates that. But can he bring enough to the table in other parts of the game to become a valuable asset at the next level? The summer league will begin to answer that question.

Even though the potential is there for him to become a very good all-around player, he's not there yet. He's not a great defender or passer, and his rebounding could be a lot better. He must put in the work to improve in those areas to succeed in the NBA.

Simply being able to score isn't enough to be anything more than a role player. Coaches are looking for players who can provide production elsewhere to help the team succeed in order to earn big minutes. Now's the chance for Muhammad to prove he can do that.