His rookie year was a struggle, but Austin Rivers should be among the top scorers in the Las Vegas Summer League.
The 2013 NBA Summer League is a golden opportunity for those on the bubble of pro rosters to establish themselves as legitimate potential factors in the Association.
One of the nicknames of the world-famous city of Las Vegas is the Capital of Second Chances. While a lot of eyes will be on rookies as they transition to the highest level of competition, other journeymen have a shot at redemption.
Whatever the individual's situation may be, putting up a lot of points is a great way to get noticed this summer—and as it turns out, a lot of the most promising scorers are younger.
Thus, it's worth analyzing some of the prime candidates to score in bunches in Las Vegas over the next week and a half.
Note: Statistics, video and summer league information are courtesy of NBA.com.
John Jenkins, SG, Atlanta Hawks
Jenkins may win the Vegas League scoring title by default due to the sheer number of shots he takes. He fired 23 shots in the opening contest against the Los Angeles Clippers, making 11 of them for a game-high 24 points.
With a quick release and teammates such as electric first-round point guard Dennis Schroeder and ex-Butler star Shelvin Mack to distribute the ball, Jenkins should continue getting good looks from the outside.
CBS Sports' Zach Harper was intrigued by the combination of Schroeder and Jenkins in particular:
Any lack of athleticism from Jenkins is made up for by the speed and ball-handling ability of Schroeder. The two should continue to be one of the more dynamic backcourts in the summer league, with Jenkins being the frequent beneficiary of Schroeder's distributing skills.
I could watch the Dennis Schroeder-John Jenkins backcourt all day long.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 12, 2013
Ben McLemore, SG, Sacramento Kings
Well, that was the hope—until McLemore went 4-of-23 in his debut, including 1-of-11 from downtown in a 76-73 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell couldn't help but make fun of the putrid numbers:
In his only year at Kansas, though, the youngster proved himself not only as a lethal catch-and-shoot threat but also displayed magnificent physicality, a spark on the defensive end and the knack to score in bunches.
Ben McLemore shot 4-of-23 for the Kings in his 1st summer-league game. But he was much better from 3....1-of-11.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) July 14, 2013
Sacramento drafted point guard Ray McCallum out of Detroit early in Round 2, so the likely soon-to-be-dubbed "Mac Attack" will continue to be in full effect—hopefully for the Kings with more effectiveness than on Saturday.
The sheer fact that McLemore hoisted 23 shots shows that he won't shy away even when he's off, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him improve on his 11 points in the opener.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com brings up a wonderful point to thwart McLemore detractors:
As was the case for Kevin Durant and should be for a talent such as McLemore, it's hard to fathom his play getting any worse.
Too bad twitter wasn't really a thing back when Kevin Durant shot 4-19 in his first summer league game.His career was really over right then— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) July 14, 2013
Austin Rivers, G, New Orleans Pelicans
Who will be the scoring champion in Vegas?
For a top 10 pick in last year's draft, Rivers' play was disappointing to say the least, though he did show signs of improvement before breaking his hand in March and missing the rest of the season.
Apparently that shooting hand is as good as new, because Rivers was a rather dominant force against the New York Knicks in the first summer league game.
Rivers is known for being able to fill it up, but his proud college school, Duke University, highlighted how he stuffed the scoresheet:
There has to be some sort of chip on Rivers' shoulder, and his confidence that some criticize as arrogance seems to be serving him well thus far. It's unclear whether Rivers can keep up this type of play, but one thing is certain: He's not going to stop shooting.
Austin Rivers scores 24 points, adds 7 rebounds and 6 assists as New Orleans beats the Knicks in their first Las Vegas Summer League game.— Duke Basketball (@dukebasketball) July 12, 2013
In that context, don't be surprised if Rivers continues to play as if he has something to prove to the Pelicans. He'll do what he does best, which is scoring.