The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is a time for young players to prove themselves with the hope of carving out major roles when the real season starts at the end of October.
Though there is a lot more work to be done before the season begins, many players have looked to make a strong first impression for the season ahead during Summer League play.
Here's a look at five players who have tried to show that they'll be capable of playing big minutes when the games count.
Ben McLemore-Sacramento Kings
Ben McLemore was the seventh pick in the 2013 NBA draft after falling due to some concerns about his character, weight and ability to create his own shots. His potential is undeniable, though, and he showed glimpses of that in Las Vegas. McLemore had games of 26 and 27 points, but he also showed that he has a lot of work still to do, as he made just seven of his 36 three-point attempts.
The young shooting guard proved he has the ability to play in the NBA right away but also showed that there will be plenty of growing pains along the way.
Dion Waiters-Cleveland Cavaliers
Dion Waiters had an up-and-down first season in the league, averaging 14.7 points per game but shooting just 41.2 percent from the field. The second-year player struggled with inconsistency again in Las Vegas, as he had two games in which he scored more than 23 points but also one in which he scored just three.
The Cavaliers will need him to become the consistent scoring force they drafted him to be if they are going to make a jump into the playoffs this season.
Austin Rivers-New Orleans Pelicans
The son of coach Doc Rivers, expectations for Austin were high coming into last season. He struggled, though, and averaged just 6.2 points per game while shooting just 37.2 percent from the field. In what was a positive sign for the Pelicans, Rivers shot 48.6 percent from the field during Summer League play, on his way to averaging 18.2 points per game.
Rivers had nowhere to go but up after a dreadful rookie year, and based on his Summer League performance, it looks like he may finally start to capitalize on his enormous potential.
Cody Zeller-Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats surprised a lot of people when they took Cody Zeller with the fourth pick in the 2013 NBA draft, and Zeller was out to prove the haters wrong in Las Vegas. He was able to do just that, as he averaged a solid 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. “I’m just trying to learn and get better,” Zeller told SB Nation, but in Las Vegas, Zeller proved that he’s already pretty good.
Thomas Robinson-Portland Trail Blazers
Thomas Robinson has had a rocky start to his NBA career, as he is already on his third NBA team after being the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft. In Las Vegas, Robinson was out to prove the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets wrong for letting him get away. The second-year player struggled on offense, shooting only 37.7 percent from the field, but as Rotoworld points out, he has flashed his rebounding prowess in averaging 12.8 rebounds per game, despite averaging less than 29 minutes a game.
If Robinson can continue to dominate on the boards, he could finally carve out a significant role in Portland.