The NBA Summer League provides young players with the opportunity to log minutes and get a feel for the game.
For young teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, this is something that's of vital importance.
After two games in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Bucks are undefeated. While that's a meaningless statistic in the big picture, it does show that some of Milwaukee's young talent is worth keeping an eye on.
But which players have stood out and what are some key takeaways from the summer's first two games?
John Henson is a Future Star
Performances in the summer league need to be taken with a grain of salt, but after Milwaukee's opening game Saturday night, it was hard not to be thrilled about John Henson's future.
In the opener against the Denver Nuggets, Henson scored 19 points, snagged 13 rebounds and blocked three shots in a 88-74 victory.
While impressive, that stat line isn't something all that new to those who followed the Bucks last season.
Henson displayed his potential in 2012-13 and was a pleasant surprise on the court when former coaches Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan decided to give the rookie some minutes. With his first NBA season behind him and a new coach guiding him, his time to flourish may be now.
And, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Bucks expect Henson to be a big part of the team moving forward:
Henson played in 63 games as a rookie and showed flashes of brilliance, including a 17-point, 25-rebound, seven-block game against Orlando in April. But he also spent plenty of time on the bench, something not likely to repeat itself in his second season.
The Bucks are committed to building around their young core including Sanders, Henson and power forward Ersan Ilyasova.
"Certainly the game plan is to build what we do out here, both ends of the floor, around him," said Bucks assistant Bob Bender, who is directing the summer league team.
Henson was kept out of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans as a precaution due to a sore right groin (per Gardner) and will be reevaluated prior to Tuesday's game against the Golden State Warriors.
If Henson remains healthy this season, there's no reason not to believe he'll build upon the success he began having last season.
Technically, Henson could start at power forward if head coach Larry Drew opts to go big by playing Ersan Ilyasova at the 3. Doing so would open a lot of things offensively for the Bucks, but in turn it would hurt them defensively. It'll be interesting to see if Drew opts for that or if he'll play it safe by starting Carlos Delfino at small forward and Ilyasova at the 4.
Regardless, both Henson's minutes and impact should see significant increases in 2013-14.
Dominique Jones Has Been Stellar
While early play this summer has further cemented the status of someone like Henson, it's also afforded Dominique Jones the opportunity to prove his potential.
In two games, Jones is averaging 17.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game on 52.9 percent shooting. Additionally, he's managed to make his way to the free-throw line at an impressive rate, going 15-for-17 and showing an aggressiveness that the Bucks need on offense.
Like everything else, though, with the good comes the bad.
Despite his general success, Jones has also had trouble hanging onto the ball, turning it over 10 times already. However, that's easy to overlook when you look at how well he's played thus far.
There's no doubt that O.J. Mayo—barring injury—is the team's starting shooting guard and go-to scorer, but outside of him, the team lacks depth at the 2-guard. Luke Ridnour may find himself logging minutes at the position, but it's not the ideal fit for him, and his lack of size would be detrimental if he played there for long periods of time.
If Jones can keep up this kind of play through the rest of his time in Las Vegas, he very well may find himself on Milwaukee's roster when the regular season starts.
And while the former first-round pick out of South Florida never got the chance to shine when with the Dallas Mavericks, perhaps a change of scenery is all he needs.
Is There Room on the Roster for John Shurna?
The departure of Mike Dunleavy left the Bucks slightly thin at small forward. Acquiring Carlos Delfino and drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly helped address the void, but it didn't solve the issue completely.
One player who may be able to help is 23-year-old Northwestern alum John Shurna.
In terms of the qualities that many scouts tend to gush over, Shurna doesn't possess many. But that doesn't mean he couldn't provide the Bucks with some valuable minutes off the bench if he made the roster.
At 6'9", 220 pounds, Shurna has the size to play small forward in the NBA. But there's not much about his game that impresses: He's not very athletic; he's not great off the dribble, and his skill set is rather limited.
That being said, Shurna can shoot.
So far this summer he's averaging 7.5 points per game on 55.6 percent shooting from the field and a sizzling 62.5 percent from behind the three-point line.
Last season, the Bucks ranked 14th among all teams in three-point shooting, connecting on 36.0 percent of the threes they attempted. Despite the Bucks finishing slightly above the league average from behind the arc, they no longer have sharpshooters J.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy, so having more three-point specialists on the roster wouldn't hurt.
Along with his shooting, Shurna has been rebounding at a fairly decent rate, averaging 3.0 in just 14 minutes per game.
Ultimately, he isn't a versatile player and doesn't bring a ton to the table.
However, he is fundamentally sound, and if he continues to shoot the way he has been, there just may be a spot for him on the roster when the regular season begins.
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