NBA Summer League 2013: Players Whose Success Will Translate to Regular Season
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp
NBA Summer League action is still wrapping up in Las Vegas, but it's safe to say we've already seen which players are ready to take what they've shown in the preseason league and use it to step up their game in the regular season.
While the games are fun to watch and do a little bit to fill the void for basketball junkies, it's important to remember that not everything that glitters in Vegas is gold. There are more than a few players who have dominated summer league action but will go MIA when the real season gets going.
However, there are a few players who will ride the momentum they have created in Vegas to a strong regular season.
Here's a look at the stars from Vegas who will continue what they've started.
After watching Jonas Valanciunas dominate the Las Vegas Summer League action, it's easy to see why the team felt comfortable with dealing Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks.
Valanciunas is ready to anchor the Raptors lineup down low.
The No. 5 pick in the 2011 draft made his NBA debut last season with middling results. He averaged a modest 8.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.26 blocks per game.
In four Vegas league games, he averaged 18.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.
There's no way that his summer league numbers will directly translate to the regular season, but he did flash his ability as a rim protector, like this block against the Sacramento Kings' Ben McLemore:
He also showcased his strength on the low block, getting to the line early and often where he shot 87 percent:
While the summer league is usually dominated by guard play, Valanciunas was the highest-scoring big man and top five in rebounding. Those are the numbers you'd expect a future franchise big man to put up against other young players.
The Golden State Warriors' Kent Bazemore emerged as one of the biggest stars of the summer league.
The 6'5" guard averaged 19.6 points, five rebounds and 1.6 steals in five summer league contests.
After averaging a mere 4.4 minutes per game in his first season with the Warriors last year, Golden State fans have to be pleased to see that the lanky guard does have game.
While Bazemore wasn't ready to contribute last year, he has proven that he could be a valuable asset to the Warriors going forward. The problem for him last season (besides a lack of experience) was the lack of a clearly defined role.
Running the point for the Dubs in Vegas, he's proven that he's capable of contributing at multiple positions. After all, there aren't many players who can run the pick-and-roll on the offensive end of the floor and then shut down a small forward the size of Otto Porter, as Kevin Pelton of ESPN noted.
In addition to locking up Otto Porter, Kent Bazemore has done a nice job operating out of the pick-and-roll. #bazedgod— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) July 13, 2013
With Jarret Jack headed from the Bay Area to Cleveland, Bazemore's ability to run the point means he'll be playing a much bigger role for Golden State this year.
Perhaps the most risky guy on this list, Buycks played in just two games for the Toronto Raptors' Vegas league team after participating in the Orlando league for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Playing in both summer leagues is a rare move because of the physical grind, but his effort didn't go unnoticed. As Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman noted, he caught the Oklahoma City Thunder's eye before being signed by the Toronto Raptors to be the team's backup point guard:
Buycks was in play as the potential third point guard with the Thunder. He now has the opportunity to backup Kyle Lowry in Toronto.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) July 12, 2013
Word at the Orlando Summer League is the Toronto Raptors have offered Dwight Buycks their backup point guard job. Buycks has accepted.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) July 12, 2013
So much of finding success in the NBA is just getting the opportunity. Going from unemployed to being entrusted as the backup point guard for a franchise is a pretty big leap, and it's all thanks to his impressive showing in Vegas and Orlando.
He averaged seven assists per game in Vegas and wowed everyone with his 28-point performance against the Phoenix Suns.
Consider Buycks one of the biggest winners of the summer league. With the knack for facilitating that he showed in Vegas, he should fill the role nicely for the Raptors.
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