NBA Summer League 2013: Recapping the Best and Worst of This Year's Tournament
The summer of 2013 has been an extraordinary one for the NBA. Superstars have signed new contracts, prospects have become rookies and the NBA Summer League has reached a new level of popularity.
The question is, which have been the best and worst moments of this year's Las Vegas Summer League tournament?
Some players were able to pull off awe-inspiring feats, making crazy shots or finding their way onto highlight reels. Others were humorously bad or saw their summer tragically cut short.
One way or another, the Las Vegas Summer League has seen some memorable moments. Here are the best and the worst of the bunch.
Best: Morris Twins Hit Game-Winners for 91-89 Victories
At the University of Kansas, twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris emerged as one of the most dynamic duos in college basketball. In the summer of 2011, Markieff was selected No. 13 overall and Marcus at No. 14.
Now, they play together on the undefeated Phoenix Suns and have been directly responsible for teh team's success.
They've both hit game-winning shots.
With the Suns trailing by 24 points, Marcus and Markieff led a furious comeback to tie things up and get possession at 89-89 with 3.3 seconds remaining. While Markieff had the hot hand, it was Marcus who drifted out to the perimeter.
As you can see in the video provided above, he beat the buzzer with a gorgeous jump shot to give Phoenix a 91-89 victory.
Not to be outdone by his brother, Markieff decided to strike during the semifinals of the Las Vegas Summer League. With the Miami Heat and Suns vying for a spot in the finals, Morris took it upon himself to take the ball and drive it towards the basket.
Despite taking contact, he managed to finish strong and give Phoenix the 91-89 lead—not making this up—with 21.8 seconds remaining.
The final score was 91-89.
You read that right; both Morris twins hit game-winners and each resulted in a 91-89 victory. If that's not enough for you, try on the fact that the Morris brothers weren't done.
Marcus Morris hit another buzzer-beater, but this one came at halftime of a 103-98 quarterfinals victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Apparently the "clutch" gene runs in the Morris family.
The worst part of any season, whether it's Summer League or a full 82-game NBA schedule, is the injuries that transpire. From stars who are forced to miss extended playing time to players who see the bench more than the court, one can't help but feel for anyone who gets injured.
Two players to go down were Will Barton of the Portland Trail Blazers and Shane Larkin of the Dallas Mavericks.
Barton sustained a right knee strain, as can be seen in the video provided above. Fortunately, he returned for later action and hit a game-winner to defeat the Atlanta Hawks.
Unfortunately, Larkin wasn't that lucky.
Larkin's injury occurred during the Mavericks' final practice before the Las Vegas Summer League began. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Larkin broke his ankle and will miss two to three months.
Other players to be injured during Las Vegas Summer League play are Washington Wizards rookie Otto Porter with hamstring tightness and Tyler Zeller of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who required stitches in his left ring finger.
Best: Ben McLemore with a Dunk of the Summer Candidate
Note to NBA big men: When Ben McLemore attacks the paint with a full head of steam, get out of the way. Chances are, he will put you on a poster.
Just ask Mike Scott of the Atlanta Hawks.
McLemore, revered as the best pure scorer in the 2013 NBA draft, took a beautiful feed from Summer League breakout star Ray McCallum at the top of the key. Running in transition, McLemore proceeded to enter the lane, go up with two hands and throw one down all over Scott.
Twitter instantly asked for more.
BEN MCLE-GIMMEMOREOFTHAT— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 19, 2013
Something tells me McLemore will oblige.
There's no question that McLemore struggled this summer, but when he was on, there were flashes of pure brilliance. From his lethal shooting stroke to his tantalizing athleticism, McLemore is a special type of player.
If you ever doubt that, just watch this dunk.
Worst: Jordan Hamilton Loses His Shorts
Jordan Hamilton of the Denver Nuggets had a superb Summer League session, which could set the stage for him breaking out during the regular season. After all, the Nuggets are an elite offensive team without reliable three-point shooters.
Unfortunately, it wasn't Hamilton's jumper that secured this highlight—it was his shorts.
During the first quarter of the Nuggets' 87-82 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, Hamilton was tripped up as he went to the basket. Driving right, Hamilton slid to the ground and, as he stumbled, saw his shorts drop right down to his ankles.
To quote the perfectly placed commentary, "Thank goodness for those tights."
Fortunately for Hamilton, he finished with a game-high 23 points and further solidified his status as a star of the summer. If he has any luck at all, the Nuggets coaching staff takes notice and offers him more playing time.
If nothing else, we'll have this to look back on.
Best: Chris Daniels with a Dunk of the Summer Candidate
Remember when I said that Ben McLemore threw down the dunk of the summer? Well, if there's one player who would debate that, it's Chris Daniels of the Milwaukee Bucks.
New Orleans Pelicans swingman Darius Miller would probably agree—albeit unwillingly.
During Milwaukee's 69-61 victory over the Pelicans, Ish Smith drew multiple defenders as he attacked off the high pick-and-roll. Splitting two defenders, Smith made a gorgeous bounce pass to Daniels.
Miller rotated in to make the play on the ball, but he ended up lying flat on his back after Daniels powered it down.
Sweet pick and roll from Ish and Chris Daniels ends with Daniels CRUSHING Darius Miller with a dunk. Probably dunk of the summer.— Jeremy Schmidt (@Bucksketball) July 15, 2013
So which one was it?
Who had the dunk of the summer?
Should McLemore's ferocious finish over Mike Scott take home the honors as the dunk of the summer? Or was Daniels' destructive dunk over Miller strong enough to earn him that unofficial, but still memorable award?
If you can't answer, just do what I do—enjoy them both.
Daniels is a 7'0" Goliath who will, evidently, destroy anyone who crosses his path. For a Bucks team flush with big men, that may not be enough for him to make it with their team. But if we learned anything from his play, it's that he can finish around the basket.
My guess is that Miller is hoping that what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
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