Las Vegas Summer League 2014: Analyzing Impressive Early Tournament Performances

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Las Vegas Summer League 2014: Analyzing Impressive Early Tournament Performances
Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

Believe it or not, there are more players at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas than Andrew Wiggins.

A number of players have impressed in Sin City in the early going, including some who went undrafted back in June. This time of year is all about young prospects turning heads, and a few players in particular have stood out.

With that in mind, here is a look at three rookies who have taken advantage of their opportunities in Las Vegas.

 

T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns 

Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

T.J. Warren was drafted out of North Carolina State with the No. 14 pick and, as Bret Strelow of The Fayetteville Observer pointed out, wasted little time getting to work in the summer league:

Warren poured in 28 points against the Philadelphia 76ers on 12-of-22 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. He also tallied 26 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on 11-of-28 shooting and has been an absolute scoring machine.

That is exactly why he was drafted in the first round.

Warren scored 24.9 points a night in his final year at NC State and can get his own shot whenever he wants off the dribble and when attacking the rim. What’s more, he gets out in transition like a guard and finishes through contact. The only real question about his offensive attack is his three-point shooting range, and he has shied away from launching too many in Vegas. 

Warren may have some trouble cracking the loaded Phoenix Suns rotation during his rookie year, but if his summer league showings thus far are any indication, he will be an impact player in the NBA sooner rather than later.

 

Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves

The scouting report on Zach LaVine leading up to the draft focused on his game-changing athleticism and overall potential, but he wasn’t exactly a top-notch scorer at UCLA.

However, he posted double figures in four straight games in the summer league against the Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. He actually tallied 20 in the contest against the Suns and hit 2-of-3 from behind the arc.

It’s not just that LaVine is scoring that should have Minnesota pleased. He is banging down low for the occasional rebound at 6’5” and has demonstrated the shooting range to hit from behind the three-point line.

Bart Young/Getty Images

LaVine has also thrown down some impressive dunks in Vegas, much to the delight of the crowd. 

Still, the most impressive part about his game is that athleticism that stood out during his college days. It has been on full display in the summer league and should have Timberwolves fans excited about a future where he is streaking down the open court to flush down a rim-rattling dunk.

 

Sean Kilpatrick, Philadelphia 76ers

Jack Arent/Getty Images

Nerlens Noel has received the lion’s share of the attention in the summer league when it comes to the Philadelphia 76ers, but Sean Kilpatrick impressed against the Los Angeles Lakers when the big man was absent.

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Kilpatrick scored 19 points, grabbed three rebounds, tallied two steals, dished out an assist and hit three shots from beyond the arc. The Cincinnati product was the best player on the floor for long stretches in a contest that also included Julius Randle.

It wasn’t Kilpatrick’s first impressive performance in the summer league. He poured in 20 points against the Utah Jazz on July 12 as well.

Kilpatrick may have gone undrafted, but agent Zach Kurtin was quick to point out a silver lining, via Shannon Russell of Cincinnati.com:

This is only going to make that chip bigger. Being undrafted is emotional at first, that it didn't happen. It's a tough pill to swallow. But when you pull back and look at it, if you're getting drafted in the 50s, that team has complete control. They don't necessarily have to extend you a contract. If you're undrafted, it only takes one of the 30 teams to sign you. 

Kilpatrick looks like he is playing with a chip on his shoulder thus far in Vegas. If that continues, he could be making an impact during the regular season this year.

 

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