The 2013 NBA Summer Leagues in both Orlando and Las Vegas have been a great chance for hoops junkies to observe some of the top young talent in the league.
Anyone who has tuned in thus far has been treated to an awesome spectacle, as the level of play is arguably better than we have ever seen before.
While some rookies and other young players have been struggling to grasp the speed of the game and athleticism of their competition, others have caught right on and are dominating from the start.
Of course, summer play isn’t the only indicator for future performances during the regular season, but it’s certainly a nice, reassuring sign for teams to see their draft picks succeeding in this setting.
Let’s take a look at the biggest surprises and top performers through the first three weeks of July.
Cody Zeller Proving Bobcats Didn’t Make Mistake
The Charlotte Bobcats received a heavy amount of flak for their controversial decision to draft Cody Zeller with the No. 4-overall pick in the 2013 draft despite the sheer number of consensus higher-rated players still left on the board.
It was derided as yet another boneheaded decision by owner Michael Jordan and his downtrodden front office, but through the first four games in Las Vegas, it has proved to be anything but.
This former Indiana Hoosiers superstar is averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in 32 minutes of play and almost had three double-doubles in a row—missing on Thursday by a single rebound.
He’s a great finisher at the rim and can run the floor like a gazelle, which is a large reason for his early success.
As long as he continues working hard and giving 100-percent effort, Zeller won’t miss a beat in the regular season.
Kelly Olynyk Dominating for Rebuilding Celtics
The Boston Celtics acquired Gonzaga Bulldogs superstar Kelly Olynyk after a draft-day trade with the Dallas Mavericks, providing the rebuilding club with a potential replacement for Kevin Garnett down the line.
However, KG was almost immediately shipped off to the Brooklyn Nets after the selection, opening the door for this long-haired 7-footer to make an impact.
While he was promising during his two seasons in Spokane, only the staunchest Celtics and ‘Zags supporters could have expected him to burst onto the scene in such a big way.
In five games in Orlando, Olynyk averaged 18.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals in 24.2 minutes of play.
He showed a quick first step and great range on his jumper, hitting shots from all over the court—including beyond the three-point line.
If he can keep that up when the regular season begins, the C’s will certainly have their power forward of the future locked in.
Jeremy Lamb Looks Like Legit Sniper for Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t able to re-sign swingman Kevin Martin, opening the door for another player to step up and take his minutes and shots.
Jeremy Lamb—acquired along with Martin and draft picks in the James Harden trade from the Houston Rockets—proved that he has the right tools for the job and displayed his incredible shooting touch over four scorching games in Orlando.
In that span, the former UConn Huskies star connected on just six of his 22 shots from beyond the arc but showed that he could hit from mid-range, close to the basket and at the charity stripe.
His best game came against the Philadelphia 76ers, as the No. 12-overall pick in the 2012 draft racked up 32 points on 10-of-14 shooting.
He was a bit out of control on occasion and turned the rock over eight times, but he wouldn’t be asked to handle the ball or do much else besides put the ball in the basket on open looks in OKC.
Lamb still has a lot to learn, but he’s a gifted scorer that made major strides this summer and looks ready for his shot in the regular season.