NBA Summer League 2013: Ranking the Standout Performances so Far
This year's Vegas and Orlando Summer Leagues have been a lot more competitive than in years past. Though the quality of play may not always be top-notch, the better players all seem to rise to the top.
The best performances this year came mostly from rookies and sophomores ready to make the leap into their respective rotations.
I've ranked the top 10 performances, highlighting single-game explosions and strong, steady play.
Honorable Mention: Malcom Thomas, Chicago Bulls
Malcolm Thomas set an NBA Summer League record with 22 rebounds in a game in Las Vegas. He grabbed 10 offensive boards to go along with 13 hard-fought points.
I'm not sure this means anything with regard to his NBA future, but this performance was worth noting.
Thomas will be fighting for minutes this season with the same frontcourt cast.
10. Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
Cody Zeller has been extremely impressive in Vegas, averaging 16 points and nine boards on 52-percent shooting.
Though he's still not playing legitimate NBA-level competition, Zeller is doing things his critics said he wouldn't be able to do. He's finishing strong after contact, controlling the glass and holding his own on the physical interior.
He's super-polished offensively, showing the ability to score no matter where he catches the ball. His jumper looks sharp and his post moves appear refined.
Zeller should immediately become Charlotte's second-best frontcourt player, especially if he continues to rebound.
9. Andrew Goudelock, Chicago Bulls
Andrew Goudelock exploded for 57 points through his first two games in Vegas, as he shot a combined 19-of-28 from the floor.
He was knocking down everything on the perimeter. When Goudelock is hot, he's capable of putting points on the board in bunches. The problem is that too many of his shots come from 18 feet or deeper, making him a low-percentage offensive player.
But when he's on, Goudelock can take over stretches of a game, hitting shots off the dribble, pulling up or stepping back.
He was last year's D-League MVP, so his scoring ability isn't exactly a breaking development. It's just nice to know that he's taking advantage of his summer opportunities.
Goudelock is averaging 19 points on a lights-out 52-percent shooting from three in Vegas.
8. Kent Bazemore, Golden State Warriors
Kent Bazemore may no longer be the most devoted benchwarmer in the league. Coach Mark Jackson might be obligated to reward Bazemore with minutes following his strong showing in Vegas, where he's averaging 18 points through four games.
He recently went off for 25 points in a win over Dallas. Bazemore attacks the rim with hostility and has shown he can score on the move in the mid-range before meeting traffic at the rim.
An active athlete on both sides of the ball, Bazemore could spend time in the backcourt now that Jarrett Jack has left for Cleveland.
This week was a perfect example of why summer league can be a glowing opportunity for young players. Bazemore is certainly taking advantage of it.
7. Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder
Jeremy Lamb nailed 10-of-14 shots in a win over Philadelphia, taking over the game without jeopardizing his shot selection.
On the perimeter, Lamb was nailing shots off curls and spotting up from three. A few times, he attacked off the dribble and got to the rim, finishing with each hand on separate trips.
Through four games in Orlando, Lamb averaged nearly 19 points, despite shooting poorly from outside.
This is a guy who's been overly reliant on his jumper, so if he's putting up points on off-nights, that should be a promising sign moving forward.
6. Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder
Reggie Jackson dropped 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting against Detroit. He looked like a guard who just came off a solid showing in the 2013 NBA playoffs.
At this point, NBA Summer League competition is below him. Jackson is slated to take over the sixth-man duties in Oklahoma City, following the departure of Kevin Martin.
He's getting to the rim at will, where he's a strong finisher in or above traffic. Jackson is super athletic and explosive in attacking the basket, though he still has plenty of work to do on his perimeter game.
With the Thunder looking to reestablish themselves as the team to beat in the West, Jackson might end up being one of the more important players in the conference.
5. John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson owned the glass in Vegas, recording at least 13 boards in each game played. He averaged almost 15 points, nearly 14 rebounds and three blocks, making his presence felt on both sides of the ball.
He's got a great touch inside, and with room, Henson can score over the shoulder or face the rim and stick a jumper.
Given his size and ridiculous length, he'll be a rebounding and shot-blocking force whenever he's in a game. Henson is a no-brainer breakout candidate in 2013-14.
4. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
The Magic have put the ball in Victor Oladipo's hands this summer, letting him play some point guard in an effort to maximize his output.
Despite lacking the handle and vision of your traditional NBA point guard, Oladipo was awfully impressive. He averaged five assists in Orlando, but it was the 19 points per game that really stood out.
Oladipo looked like a scorer. He was separating in the mid-range, creating jumpers for himself and consistently knocking them down. He even nailed a game-winner out of an isolation set.
We know about his athleticism and ability to attack the basket, but if Oladipo starts creating his own half-court offense, his ceiling shoots up an extra few stories.
3. Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
Jonas Valanciunas has been absolutely dominant throughout four games in Vegas, averaging roughly 19 points and 10 boards on 56-percent shooting.
He's also nailed 29-of-33 free throws, a great sign for a young big man.
Valanciunas is a talented post player with a number of offensive tricks up his sleeve. He can score with his back to the rim, face and attack, or pop out for a mid-range jumper.
The loss of Andrea Bargnani will ultimately be an addition by subtraction, as Valanciunas looks poised for a serious 2013-14 breakout.
2. Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
Kelly Olynyk made summer league seem like an extended version of West Coast Conference play. Through five games, Olynyk averaged 18 points and eight boards on 58-percent shooting.
As a junior at Gonzaga, Olynyk averaged nearly 18 points and seven boards on roughly 63 percent shooting.
He's shown off the entire arsenal consisting of jump shooting, clever post play and transition hoops.
At 7'0'', he's got loads of talent making him a difficult matchup. He can score with the game slowed down or when the tempo picks up.
Olynyk has been tremendous this summer in Orlando, and given the depth of Boston's roster, he could see substantial playing time during his rookie year.
1. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond was a man amongst boys in Orlando, finishing summer league with an average of 16 points, nearly 15 boards and two blocks on 52-percent shooting.
He couldn't be contained on the interior, finishing everything in sight while scrubbing the glass clean.
Drummond is just a phenomenal athlete for a 6'10'', 270-pounder. At one point, he stripped a ball-handler at half court and took it the distance for a slam.
He's poised for a monster breakout in 2013-14, yet there's still plenty of room for growth. Drummond is clearly one of the brightest young prospects this league has to offer.
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