Biggest Takeaways from Day 2 at Orlando Summer League 2014
Let's go, Day 2.
The Orlando Summer League continued on Sunday. Six different NBA teams were in action with the dual purpose of further evaluating prospects while providing hoops heads everywhere with a July basketball fix.
And it was enlightening.
Summer league isn't a time to pass absolute judgment—especially through Day 2—but it is a cursory glimpse into what the future of certain teams will look like. Above all else, it's a launching pad for prospect evaluation and discussion.
Two days into the Association's summer festivities, there's plenty to discuss.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Still Doing Work
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope appears to be sending a message. It's addressed to Detroit Pistons head coach and president Stan Van Gundy, and it reads:
Who needs Jodie Meeks?
In just under 32 minutes of action Sunday, Caldwell-Pope torched the Memphis Grizzlies defense for 30 points and three assists on 10-of-20 shooting, including a 4-of-8 showing from downtown.
It's important not to make groundbreaking assumptions through two days of summer-league action, but it's difficult not to wax optimism when his strong performance was preceded by an equally impressive Day 1 that prompted Bleacher Report's Brian Robb to rain down praise:
Caldwell-Pope did a little bit of everything in his team's 95-89 win over the Rockets. He knocked down shots from three-point range and mid-range, and he had some strong takes to the rim that got him to the free-throw line an impressive nine times.
The soon-to-be sophomore notched 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting Saturday, putting forth a performance that should have Van Gundy over the moon and back again. Detroit ranked 19th in offensive efficiency and 29th in three-point percentage last year, according to Basketball-Reference.com, and entered the offseason in dire need of some floor-spacing firepower.
Turns out it will get some from both Meeks and Caldwell-Pope.
Holy Jarnell Stokes
Day 2 was far more kind to Jarnell Stokes than Day 1.
One day after committing six fouls against the Oklahoma City Thunder in under 20 minutes of action, Stokes went off for 16 points, 12 rebounds and two assists in nearly 29 minutes against the Pistons.
It was quite the offensive and rebounding display for Stokes, who saw his draft-day stock plummet when he was selected with the 35th overall pick. He looked quick and explosive and was able to find holes in Detroit's defense.
Playing time might not be available up front in Memphis right away. Taking a page out of Lionel Hollins' book, head coach Dave Joerger didn't show a willingness to find minutes for youngsters and projects—such as Ed Davis—last season.
And yet, he may not have a choice in 2014-15—not if Stokes continues to score and rebound like this.
Peyton Siva Looking Comfortable
Peyton Siva has had an interesting two days.
The former second-round pick followed up his 16-point, six-assist performance with 12 and 7, respectively, on Sunday. After appearing in just 24 games for the Pistons last season, he's really starting to look comfortable in his own skin.
There's still work to be done defensively; that's for sure. Siva is undersized at 6'0" and has shown a penchant for getting foul-happy or being too passive. On Saturday, he was too aggressive, committing four fouls in less than 30 minutes. On Sunday, he was a bit more passive, though he did force two steals without committing a foul.
He's shown the most improvement on the offensive end, where his shot selection is more conservative and his decision making is progressing. For the amount of time he's playing, his ball control has been stellar as well; he's coughed up the rock four times in over 56 minutes of action through two days.
"I just want to play," Siva said, per MLive.com's David Mayo. "I would love to stay in Detroit. They drafted me and I'd love to prove myself."
Two games into his summer-league stint, Siva is on the cusp of proving a whole lot.
Summer-league rosters aren't crammed with 37-year-old veterans playing on wooden legs and sporting eyepatches. Just thought you should know—because you might not have.
The Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers decided to play it safe with a few of their most intriguing prospects on Sunday. It was sort of weird—unequivocally weird, even.
After going for 19 points, two rebounds, three assists, four steals and one block Saturday, Nerlens Noel registered a "did not play" (DNP) Sunday. Likewise, neither Jeremy Lamb nor rookie Mitch McGary played for the Thunder.
Seeing Noel sit is no surprise. He spent all of his rookie season recovering from an ACL injury, so the Sixers have been taking things slow with him from the get-go.
McGary's absence isn't a complete surprise, either. A back injury that required surgery ended his season early last year at Michigan. The Thunder could be gradually trying to get him back in the swing of things.
Lamb's DNP comes off as odd. If the Thunder want him to be a consistent contributor next season, he needs reps.
Having him sit out one day after a miserable performance—4-of-12 shooting, four turnovers—against the Grizzlies makes little sense. He really could have used a fresh start. Yet he didn't get it.
For whatever reason, he joined Noel and McGary in the "caution tape" section.
Casper Ware Goes Bonkers
Casper Ware is fun to watch—really fun.
Sometimes, he's confusing to watch. Mostly, he's just ridiculously fun to watch.
Against the Thunder on Sunday, he notched 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, while shooting 8-of-16 from the floor for the Sixers. That was the good. Now on to the bad.
Ware continues to struggle maintaining possession. He coughed up the rock six times on Saturday and followed that up with five turnovers on Day 2. It was, at times, ugly—the byproduct of rushed decision making.
Still, Ware played well for the most part, doing a little bit of everything on the offensive end, using his angles, carving up defenders and finding his teammates on the move.
If he keeps this up and starts limiting his turnovers, maybe—just maybe—he'll earn more than nine appearances in Philly next season.
Shabazz Napier Is Just Getting Started
Shabazz Napier's summer-league debut against the Boston Celtics was entirely forgettable.
The Connecticut product made just three of his 15 field-goal attempts, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds and just two assists in the loss. He looked out of rhythm and hardly up to the task of competing with NBA-level players.
Napier was 0-of-8 in the first half and missed his first 10 field-goal attempts before finally cashing in.
The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy noted of the rookie that "he’s starting all over again, this time with an unusual bit of pressure. LeBron James—the legend who may or may not be waiting for Napier when training camp opens—is said to be a fan."
After the contest, Napier himself told reporters, via Michael Wallace of ESPN.com, "It’s a big adjustment. I’m unable to do a lot of things I was on the college level. I’ve got to find the adjustments on how to do those things."
He started making those adjustments on Sunday.
This time, Napier scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Just as importantly, he tacked on seven assists and two steals. Other than five turnovers marring the performance, this was a night-and-day difference from Saturday's game.
It was certainly a step in the right direction for the 2014 first-round selection.
James Ennis Is for Real...So Far
Through two games, forward James Ennis has been the Miami Heat's best summer-league player.
After playing overseas last season, the 2013 second-round draft pick (who was traded from the Atlanta Hawks to Miami on draft night) is beginning to come on strong and make a name for himself.
The Long Beach State standout posted 18 points and eight rebounds in Saturday's game against the Boston Celtics summer-league squad. He followed that up with an even bigger performance on Sunday, tallying 29 points in under 26 minutes of action.
He made 7-of-8 three-point attempts in the process, to go along with four rebounds and two assists.
It's unclear whether Ennis has a serious chance of playing a role for Miami this season, but he's certainly making a strong case.
If he keeps this kind of production up all summer, team president Pat Riley may find himself with a nifty new asset.