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NBA Summer League 2016: Top Takeaways from July 8 in Las Vegas

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 9, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 8: Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers after a play against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League game on July 8, 2016 at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Brandon Ingram only needed 25 minutes to remind the basketball universe why he was one heck of a consolation prize for the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 in the 2016 NBA draft.

By the time the Purple and Gold had completed their 85-65 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night, Ingram had recorded 12 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks while knocking down five of his nine shots from the field. That might not sound like the world's most impressive stat line, and it's not.

Instead, it was the manner in which Ingram produced his numbers that should have Lakers supporters giddy about the future. From the first time he touched the ball, it was clear he was operating on a different plane than your typical Las Vegas Summer League participant:

That only became increasingly obvious as Ingram found creative ways to get past Pelicans defenders. First came a lightning-quick first step into traffic, which he parted with ease before finishing at the hoop:

Silver Screen & Roll @LakersSBN

Brandon Ingram, ladies and gentlemen https://t.co/aNmrQzLWGC https://t.co/7TtBpzzjny

In the second quarter, a ball fake was all he needed to create space and drive into the painted area:

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Two periods later, he spun against his momentum and used a reverse pivot to leave his primary defender guarding a ghost. Though he missed the subsequent shot, Ingram showed both the presence of mind and indefatigable motor necessary to clean up with a tip-in bucket:

Those are special plays from anyone, much less a rookie making his first foray in the pros.

And if that's not enough, Ingram also used his wiry frame and pterodactyl arms to cause problems while playing defense. He was one of only 10 players to swat at least a pair of shots during the first day of action in Sin City, and those two blocks sell his defensive impact short.

The Duke product is by no means perfect. He didn't do much to mitigate concerns about his poor free-throw shooting, and his skinniness won't help during the grueling regular season. He also put on this show against a New Orleans squad that may have only featured a single NBA presence—and Buddy Hield isn't yet known for lockdown ability against taller wings.

But Ingram can only play against the opponent lined up on the hardwood against him, and he maximized his 25 minutes while leaving an indelible impression. It's tough to ask for anything more during a debut.

    

Up-and-Down Debut for Thon Maker

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 8:  Thon Maker #7 of Milwaukee Bucks goes up for a rebound against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 8, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
David Dow/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks' first draft pick of 2016, No. 10 overall, was never going to be a star from the get-go.

After all, Thon Maker is only 19 years old and as raw as can be, possessing tantalizing tools that haven't yet developed into a consistent package. His immense upside was on display during his Las Vegas Summer League debut—an 81-75 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers—so long as you look past the warts.

Maker never looked comfortable in pick-and-roll coverage and seemed out of sorts when he didn't have the ball in the half-court set. He also tried to force the issue during the Bucks' first few possessions, leading to a bricked pull-up jumper on the opening play and a pair of decisions that would make you think his last name should be "Misser:"

Jonathan Wasserman @NBADraftWass

Took 2 minutes for Thon Maker's flaws/questionable fit to show. Not sharp enough outside or physical/strong inside: https://t.co/O8MQGz8QLF

But the 7'1" teenager persevered, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting, 13 rebounds, one steal and two blocks.

Despite his many offensive rebounds and hustle-aided chances around the basket, the play that stood out came when he drilled an and-one jumper and completed a non-traditional four-point play by gathering his own rebound and knocking down the second-chance look:

It's far too early to tell what Maker will become. But it's going to be well worth enjoying the inevitable roller coaster.

    

Young Guards Shine for Denver and Minnesota

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 8: Kris Dunn #3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League game on July 8, 2016 at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

If it seemed like every young guard put up impressive numbers during Denver's 88-82 victory, it's probably because they did:

Battle of the Guards
PlayerPointsReboundsAssistsStealsBlocks
Kris Dunn27 (10-of-18)5231
Gary Harris22 (8-of-16)4120
Tyus Jones12 (4-of-11)10400
Jamal Murray14 (5-of-12)6200
Emmanuel Mudiay23 (8-of-18)8611

Jamal Murray made a positive impact for the Denver Nuggets once he figured out it's better to set your feet before you shoot. Gary Harris used his two years of professional experience to thrive on both ends of the court. Tyus Jones dominated on the glass and looked far more comfortable running the Minnesota Timberwolves offense than he did as a rookie.

Of course, there was also a marquee point guard battle between Kris Dunn and Emmanuel Mudiay.

The latter diced Minnesota's defense with his savvy navigation of pick-and-roll sets and timely feeds, such as the one below:

But he also showed improvement as a scorer. Even if he couldn't knock down shots from beyond the arc, he got to the rim and worked out of the post nicely, especially during this back-to-the-basket sequence in the fourth quarter:

However, Dunn wasn't left in the dust. The rookie point guard broke ankles with his tight handles, much to the chagrin of JaKarr Sampson:

He was an imposing presence on the defensive end, using his quick hands and preternatural positioning instincts to wreak havoc whenever an opponent was careless with the ball:

If we had to pick a winner in this head-to-head battle, it would be the more experienced floor general. Mudiay's passing was significantly superior, and it was telling he didn't have to rely on the extra fouls allotted during summer league to play solid defense.

But Dunn more than held his own, and that's impressive enough during a debut.

    

Wade Baldwin IV Shows 2-Way Upside

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 8:  Wade Baldwin IV #2 of Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball against the NBA D-League Select during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 8, 2016 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User express
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Vanderbilt product Wade Baldwin IV began his professional career in style, with the transition flush you can see below, and he kept making a positive impact until the end of the contest:

Though he struggled with his shooting, had trouble finishing around the hoop and occasionally found himself out of position when guarding an off-ball assignment, Baldwin wound up with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals against the limited competition offered by the D-League Select. 

He was in full control of the proceedings on Friday, helping his Memphis Grizzlies outscore the opposition by a staggering 21 points when he was on the floor in the 99-79 win.

It was his defensive presence that was more important than any statistic, however, as he constantly jumped passing lanes and showed off the quick hands that will help him blend into Memphis' defensive identity. Hardwood Paroxysm's Matt Moore didn't take long to express his thoughts about Baldwin's potential point-preventing prowess:

Baldwin won't be a starter with the Grizzlies now Mike Conley has re-signed for max money, but he appears on track to play an important role when the action shifts to Beale Street.

    

Sam Dekker Returns

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 8:  Sam Dekker #7 of Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 8, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
David Dow/Getty Images

Just over a year ago, the Houston Rockets used the 2015 NBA draft's No. 18 pick to select Sam Dekker out of Wisconsin. He played only three games during his rookie season, succumbing to a herniated disc that eventually led to surgery.

Now, he's back.

He announced as much throughout his first contest as a sophomore, thriving in nearly every facet as he recorded 18 points, four rebounds and a steal while shooting 6-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc in the Rockets' 83-78 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

His pair of triples included a corner trey that bounced straight up once it hit the rim before granting him that coveted shooter's roll. Dekker seemed to be testing his own capabilities on a few plays, including this awkward finish in traffic that dropped for a tough two points:

By the end of the game, he wasn't holding back. The following will go down as one of the better dunks in Las Vegas, even if it happened on the first day of competition:

Dekker landed awkwardly on that transition, flush and exited with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter. He returned briefly, but it's only his quad that's under scrutiny. Worries about his back are one step closer to being null and void.

This was only one game, but it was enough to get one of his teammates excited:

Patrick Beverley @patbev21

Ok @dekker I see

     

Dunk of the Night

Norman Powell of the Toronto Raptors can fly, and he doesn't care if you send multiple defenders on ill-fated rejection endeavors.

    

Statistical Leaders from July 8

Below, you can see the top finishers in each major box-score category from Friday night's action.

Points

  1. Kris Dunn, Minnesota Timberwolves (27).
  2. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets (23).
  3. Andrew Harrison, Memphis Grizzlies (23).
  4. Jordan McRae, Cleveland Cavaliers (23).
  5. Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets (22).

Rebounds

  1. Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks (13).
  2. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks (11).
  3. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (11).
  4. Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves (10).
  5. Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers (9).
  6. Michael Beasley, Houston Rockets (9).
  7. Jonathan Holmes, Memphis Grizzlies (9).
  8. Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors (9).

Assists

  1. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets (6).
  2. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (6).
  3. Lamar Patterson, Atlanta Hawks (6).
  4. Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors (6).
  5. Jimmer Fredette, Denver Nuggets (6).
  6. Gary Payton II, Houston Rockets (5).
  7. Kay Felder, Cleveland Cavaliers (5).
  8. Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (5).

Steals

  1. Wade Baldwin IV, Memphis Grizzlies (4).
  2. Julyan Stone, Milwaukee Bucks (4).
  3. Diamon Simpson, Cleveland Cavaliers (4).
  4. Kris Dunn, Minnesota Timberwolves (3).
  5. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (3).
  6. Charles Jackson, D-League Select (3).
  7. Kay Felder, Cleveland Cavaliers (3).

Blocks

  1. Diamon Simpson, Cleveland Cavaliers (6).
  2. Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Lakers (3).
  3. Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors (3).
  4. Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans (3).
  5. Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers (2).
  6. Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers (2).
  7. Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks (2).
  8. Montrezl Harrell, Houston Rockets (2).
  9. Juvonte Reddic, D-League Select (2).
  10. Skal Labissiere, Sacramento Kings (2).

    

Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @fromal09.

Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basketball-Reference.com or NBA Math.

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