Winners and Losers from Memphis Grizzlies' Summer League Play
Tony Wroten and others holding contracts with the Memphis Grizzlies didn't impress in the NBA Summer League, but some who didn't have a spot sparkled. Jack Cooley and Vander Blue were surprising stars for the Grizzlies' summer squad.
Cooley was a solid presence underneath. He did a great job on the boards in each game and had a few stellar scoring performances.
Blue had two nights in which he shone. His big scoring affair against the Charlotte Bobcats might persuade a team to take a closer look at him.
One of the two Grizz draft picks saw playing time. Janis Timma spent a little time on the floor, but Jamaal Franklin missed out with an ankle injury.
Wroten didn't show any signs of improvement, displaying dreary shooting and unfortunate ball-handling.
Follow along to see a set of players who helped themselves in Las Vegas, as well as those who must work to put the series behind them.
Winner: Jack Cooley
The absence of Jon Leuer benefited Jack Cooley. The former Notre Dame big man took advantage of the opportunity, starting all six games and rocking the inside.
Cooley put up big numbers while playing 30.3 minutes per game. He had three straight double-doubles and two 20-point games.
Cooley worked well in the low post. He bounced past one defender with a lateral move against the Denver Nuggets on his way to a layup.
His chances of making a roster might have improved a bit. Peter Edmiston of The Commercial Appeal praised Cooley, tweeting, "Also, nice work by Jack Cooley, whose consistent productivity will earn him a training camp invite. Doing a lot of good things on the court."
At 6'9" and 244 pounds, he has enough size to compete for a regular-season roster spot. Hence, the rebounding by the one-time Fighting Irish may translate in real games.
Loser: Tony Wroten
Last year, Josh Selby inspired hope in his future by putting up 24 points per game during the Summer League after playing sparingly his rookie year.
Tony Wroten didn't manage to do the same after seeing sparse minutes as a newcomer.
Wroten's shooting was poor. While he scored 12.2 points per game, he shot only 25.3 percent from the field. Only twice did he drain more than a quarter of his shots.
His ball-handling didn't hold up. He had more turnovers than assists, losing the ball 3.8 times per game while dishing out 3.5 dimes.
Hence, he was unable to assuage any worries about his ability to control the ball.
Fortunately, the Summer League won't decide his fate. Perhaps, Wroten could polish his dribbling skills and shooting ability in the offseason and training camp.
Winner: Vander Blue
Entering Summer League play as a mostly mid-range shooter who could do little to help the Grizzlies in the regular season, Vander Blue did not inspire high expectations within the franchise.
While this undrafted player didn’t change that perception, he took a couple moments to dazzle some NBA observers.
Against the Charlotte Bobcats, he scored 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting in 23 minutes. The Marquette product knocked down five three-pointers, including a couple contested attempts.
He moved fluidly on drives to the basket and showed intuition. He scored 13 against the Denver Nuggets, but coughed it up four times.
The 3 Shades of Blue blog quoted Jason Levien as saying he “would not be surprised to see [Blue] in the league.”
If Blue can keep up the deft shooting touch, he may be able to find a roster spot.
Loser: Jamaal Franklin
The Grizzlies’ first pick of the draft, Jamaal Franklin was unable to show off his playmaking ability as an ankle injury sidelined him for the duration of the Summer League.
Seeing him storm to the basket, toss slick passes and grab steals would have delighted Grizzlies decision-makers.
Alas, Franklin, who will likely receive a contract this summer, must wait until training camp to put his athleticism and grit on display. The time lost doesn't by itself portend a smaller amount of playing time for the Grizz this season. He'll have plenty of opportunities in camp and in exhibition games to catch new head coach Dave Joerger's eye.
If he does well in October, he might have a shot at the rotation.
Winner: Ed Davis
By staying off the Summer League court, Ed Davis won.
Davis had a Twitter exchange a couple weeks ago with The Commercial Appeal's Ron Tillery in which Davis dismissed the notion that he needed time in Las Vegas.
Tillery tweeted, "For the Ed-Davis-is-a-finished-product crowd, I recall O.J. Mayo going to Vegas when he wasn't required. It's called trying to get better."
Davis shot back, "I didn't kno [sic] playing summer league was the only way to get better. But, hey I guess you know the formula."
By not playing in the Summer League, Davis avoided the possibility of an unnecessary injury. Also, he didn't deceive himself with successful moves to the rim against smaller frontcourt players.
He can improve through offseason workouts with real NBA players and training-camp practices. Skipping the Summer League doesn't risk any loss of rhythm or competition.
The competition he would have faced wouldn't have challenged him.
Also, no big man on the Grizzlies' Summer League team threatens Davis' minutes. Jack Cooley pulled down 9.2 rebounds per game, but still must work through training camp to earn a roster spot. Donte Greene, who has a non-guaranteed contract, did little on the boards.
Loser: Donte Greene
Donte Greene needed to validate himself in Las Vegas to show John Hollinger that his contract should be renewed.
Greene fell short.
Greene performed like the man seen two years ago as a role player in a Sacramento Kings uniform—shooting poorly and unable to compete inside. He shot 36.8 percent from the field and pulled down 3.2 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.
The Syracuse product discovered his stroke in the last two games, dropping 15 points against the Charlotte Bobcats and 16 against the Denver Nuggets. He hit three three-pointers against the Nuggets.
Even in those games, he shot just 41.7 percent.
Greene’s tepid shooting against light defense causes concern. If he’s unspectacular against Summer League competition, he may seem unlikely to pose a threat to NBA bench players.