NBA Vegas Summer League: 5 Players Already Looking Like Draft Steals
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Sometimes, it's best to take a rookie's Summer League performance with a grain of salt.
On the other hand, some Summer League stars, like Donte Greene and his 40-point debut, have done very little in the league.
But when you look at the later picks in the draft, especially in a crop of players as weak as this year's, any type of production is encouraging.
These guys are not expected to be stars in the NBA. At best, they will be role players. Many will never step on the court in an NBA game.
So which non-lottery picks from the 2013 NBA draft have shown some promise as an NBA player in the Vegas League?
Five of the lower picks have separated themselves from their peers.
Undrafted rookies will not be considered, because they were not drafted. And by definition, a "draft steal" must be a player who was picked in the draft.
Note: All stats are from NBA.com.
Deshaun Thomas, San Antonio Spurs
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In the picture above, Deshaun Thomas shows us his best skill—scoring.
The No. 58 pick doesn't do much else, but for a player drafted that low, any type of skill that borders on elite is a welcome sight.
While not athletic at all, Thomas can spot up for shots, pull up off the dribble or take it all the way to the rim and finish with a soft touch.
The small forward is currently ranked fourth among rookies in scoring (14.3 points per game) in Vegas, while shooting 37.5 percent from the three-point line. Both of those numbers were considerably higher before a terrible shooting night against the Cavaliers that saw Thomas shoot 1-for-12 from the field and 0-for-4 from three.
Thomas may have a shot at making the Spurs' roster, according to ProjectSpurs.com, especially since the blossoming Kawhi Leonard has literally no one to back him up at small forward right now.
Any pick as low as No. 58 even considered for the roster of a conference champion deserves to be called a steal.
Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Clippers
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At the No. 25 pick, you may think that Bullock was picked too high to become a steal.
But solid NBA role players who are eager to play their role don't come around that often. Reggie Bullock has shown in the Summer League that he can be a premier "3-and-D" player in the NBA. This means that he can be a three-point specialist that also plays excellent defense.
In fact, Bullock has compared his play style to a fellow Tar Heel, the Spurs' Danny Green, according to ESPN. He realizes he isn't going to be a superstar, which is the first step to being a great role player.
Despite being a focal point of defenses in the Vegas Summer League, which he won't be on the Clippers, the swingman Bullock has put up 17.0 points per game, second among rookies.
His 0.8 blocks per game have also shown us some glimpses of his defensive versatility and potential.
Archie Goodwin, Phoenix Suns
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Archie Goodwin was a stud in high school, a five-star prospect with jaw-dropping athleticism that made opponents look silly.
In his one year at Kentucky, Goodwin showed flashes of potential, but lacked the consistency to really be a star for the Wildcats.
Although Goodwin is still very raw, I like his chances to become a J.R. Smith-like bench scorer, as a best-case scenario. Even if he doesn't become quite that good, he should still exceed expectations for a No. 29 pick.
He sure has the look of a microwave off the bench so far, averaging nearly 12 points per game in just 23 minutes in Summer League action.
Ray McCallum Jr., Sacramento Kings
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The image above is a perfect picture of the attention fans were giving the Kings' rookie guards heading into Summer League. With all eyes on No. 7 pick Ben McLemore, No. 36 Ray McCallum Jr. barely got any recognition.
But ironically enough, McCallum Jr. has been the one turning heads with his play. He cracked the NBA Rookie Ladder, while McLemore remained on the outside looking in as an honorable mention.
McCallum Jr. has shot just 39.5 percent from the floor, but has gotten to the line 30 times in four games and scored 12.8 points per game so far.
The Kings were so impressed with his play that they awarded him a three-year guaranteed deal, according to Pro Basketball Talk.
Despite already possessing two quality point guards (Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez), look for the McCallum and his well-rounded skill set to fight for a roster spot for the Kings.
James Ennis, Miami Heat
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James Ennis was actually drafted by the Atlanta Hawks at the No. 50 pick, but the Heat liked him enough to get him for a future second-round pick and cash considerations, according to Sportando.
The athletic small forward was compared to Jimmy Butler by NBADraft.net, which fits Ennis perfectly, even if Ennis isn't nearly as polished as Butler.
In just 21.8 minutes per game in five games for the Heat's Vegas team, Ennis has put up 10.4 points per game, in addition to 4.4 rebounds and a mind-boggling 1.8 steals per game.
While he is probably a couple of years from being a regular contributor for the Heat's main squad, he may make the team this year. The Miami Herald has acknowledged this, bringing up the fact that Ray Allen and Shane Battier are aging and will be retired soon.
And assuming that the Heat should remain a contender for at least a few more years, Ennis' status as a contributor on an elite team should justify his "steal" status, considering that he was picked all the way at No. 50.