Summer isn't eternal, and neither is the 2014 NBA Summer League. It's been fun in Las Vegas and Orlando, but sooner or later, the party's gotta end.
Only two days remain in the Vegas Summer League, with the semifinals set to tip off on Sunday. In one half, the Charlotte Hornets will be taking on the Houston Rockets, while the Sacramento Kings will face the Washington Wizards in the other.
How teams do in summer league is largely irrelevant. What fans are more interested in is how their favorite team's new crop of rookies look. For some, this is the first time they've seen the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Doug McDermott, Dante Exum, etc. in game action on the basketball court.
None of those players' teams remain, but rest assured that plenty of talented rookies are still playing the Vegas Summer League.
You can view the updated bracket on NBA.com.
|6 p.m. ET||Charlotte Hornets vs. Houston Rockets||Thomas & Mack Center||NBA TV|
|8 p.m. ET||Sacramento Kings vs. Washington Wizards||Thomas & Mack Center||NBA TV|
Note: Both games are available to stream on Summer League Live (subscription required).
Rookies to Watch
P.J. Hairston, Charlotte Hornets
Efficiency hasn't been the name of P.J. Hairston's game. The former North Carolina standout may be averaging 16.8 points in the Vegas Summer League, but they're coming on 31-of-96 (.323) shooting. Hairston hasn't seen a shot he doesn't like, and since it's summer league, few will care about his ill-advised shot selection.
Of course, one of the biggest knocks on Hairston heading into the draft was that he would often be a little too shot happy, so these early returns aren't entirely encouraging for Charlotte.
Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver joked that the rookie guard has already become an exaggerated version of himself in no time:
P.J. Hairston became a caricature of himself more quickly than any NBA player I can remember.— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 19, 2014
CBSSports.com's Matt Moore thinks J.R. Smith is Bruce Willis to Hairston's Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
When P.J. Hairston meets J.R. Smith it's going to be like Looper.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) July 19, 2014
The beauty of Hairston is that, good or bad, he'll be a lot of fun to watch Sunday.
Nick Johnson, Houston Rockets
Although Clint Capela has made some movement on his rookie contract, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, he obviously won't be featuring in Vegas for the Houston Rockets. That leaves Nick Johnson as the only 2014 draftee on the Rockets' summer league roster.
The former Arizona Wildcat has been solid if unspectacular in Las Vegas, averaging 11.8 points on .414 shooting. Between that and his 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists a game in the Orlando Summer League, the second-rounder has arguably done enough to warrant a spot on the Rockets roster.
If Johnson is sent to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, then he may not be able to carry the chip on his shoulder; it will have grown too large.
"I just don't think there are seven Pac-12 players better than the Pac-12 Player of the Year, and not (41) players better than me in that draft class," said Johnson about getting drafted 42nd overall, per Paul Coro of AZCentral.com. "That's what we have the whole career for. It's not where you start. It's where you finish."
Johnson will want to rebound from his quarterfinal performance against the Atlanta Hawks, when he shot 4-of-11 from the field for 10 points.
Nik Stauskas, Sacramento Kings
On draft night, many questioned the Sacramento Kings selecting Nik Stauskas with their No. 8 overall pick. If the Kings had one problem last year, it wasn't that they lacked enough guys who loved to shoot.
Stauskas is a well-rounded player, but his best asset is his ability from long range. Few in the 2014 class could match the former Michigan star.
In Sacramento's 100-86 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last Thursday, though, Stauskas demonstrated that he could still find a way to help the team even if he wasn't getting shots. He finished the game with four points, three rebounds and five assists.
Tyrone Corbin, who's coaching the Kings during summer league, spoke about Stauskas' contributions, per Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee:
We need to get him more shots, but I thought he had a good game for us. Although he only had three shots and (four) points, he had five assists and played a good game making plays for teammates and did a pretty good job on the defensive end. He may not have scored or made a lot of shots, but he played a good game for us.
Stauskas is still a work in progress, but so far he's making the Kings look slightly smarter for taking him with the eighth pick.
Note: All stats are courtesy of NBA.com unless otherwise noted.