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[ESPN] Summer School NBA Rookie Watch

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by primtim24, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. primtim24

    primtim24 Contributing Member

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    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/Rookies-120725/nba-rookie-watch-summer-school
    Rockets players are bolded ESPN Insider needed to view.
    Please merge with another thread if appropriate.

    Summer league has a bad reputation as a set of games that don't predict anything.

    I, on the other hand, have always felt that it serves a better purpose: Telling us where players are today, and giving us a glimpse of where they can be tomorrow.

    We first saw the attacking skills of Jeremy Lin at the Las Vegas Summer League in 2010. Combine that with the great improvement he showed as a shooter and you can begin to see how he became the player he was last season, to some degree. Ditto Brandon Jennings, who was a jump shot away from being a solid starter when we first saw him in Vegas. Jeff Foster proved to be a terrific rebounder in his first summer league action, as did Udonis Haslem; both guys used their summer efforts to help carve out careers by far outclassing their projections coming out of college.

    So here's what I'm taking away from the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, as we head into a nine-week "dark" period for these young guys before they officially surface again for training camp in late September/early October.





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    Rookie of the Year challengers
    The players who will give Anthony Davis a run for his money




    Barnes

    Harrison Barnes | Golden State Warriors
    Summer stats: 16.8 ppg (40% shooting), 5.6 rpg, 0.4 apg, 1.8 spg

    Barnes showed one big flaw in Vegas: The game is too easy for him. At 6-foot-8, with his skills, Barnes can get any uncontested shot he wants. But he has not yet learned how to grind for more makable shots. Still, with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry by his side, Barnes should get a lot of open looks and slashing opportunities. He'll also be asked to defend opponents' best perimeter wings most nights, so his chances at both scoring and earning defensive kudos are quite good.




    Beal

    Bradley Beal | Washington Wizards
    Summer stats: 17.6 ppg (42% shooting), 4.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1 spg

    Beal proved to be perhaps the most versatile perimeter player of this rookie class, capable of handling point guard duties, attacking defenders off the dribble or softly lofting in jumpers off pin-downs and cross-screens. More importantly, his feel for the game means he'll be paired with John Wall a ton, as he instinctively knows where to move to so Wall has more space to create. Add Nene to the mix and Beal gets to play next to a true low-post threat, which when combined with Wall will give him a lot of great scoring opportunities. If Beal's 3-point shot improves a good deal, he'll help the Wiz make a playoff run.




    Henson

    John Henson | Milwaukee Bucks
    Summer stats: 18.3 ppg (53% shooting), 6.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 bpg

    Henson came in with a strong shot-blocking reputation and proved it in Vegas, totaling four swats in one game. But it was his ability to make paint shots, and some outside jumpers, that should have the Bucks so excited. Henson played with great poise all week -- a testament to how well-schooled he was in college and perhaps even before -- as he rarely acted impulsively on defense or on the glass. He finished third in blocks among rookie big men yet committed only five fouls (in four games), while the two players with more blocked shots fouled 16 times in five games.




    Lillard

    Damian Lillard | Portland Trail Blazers
    Summer stats: 26.5 ppg (44% shooting), 4 rpg, 5.3 apg, 0.5 spg

    In my eyes, Lillard was the best rookie in Vegas. His talent as a floor general, as well as his ability to shoot and score, proved that you don't have to play in the ACC or Big East to become an elite player. And that's what Lillard projects to be right now. He's a slightly downgraded version of Derrick Rose, with some Chauncey Billups mixed in, who will likely start from day one and will be the favorite to win ROY since he'll have the ball in his hands a ton.




    Lamb

    Jeremy Lamb | Houston RocketsSummer stats: 20 ppg (47% shooting), 4.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1 spg

    Lamb is a dynamic scorer with the ball in his hands, and he is better off the bounce than I expected, given his size (though he does tend to stand and watch when the ball isn't moving toward him). Lamb might also be the best shooter in this class. His coaches in Houston will need to add more wrinkles to their offense, so they can take advantage of his ability to score off screens when he's running from side to side or bottom to top.




    Motiejunas

    Donatas Motiejunas | Houston RocketsSummer stats: 16.3 ppg (62% shooting), 7.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.8 bpg

    Is it not ironic that GM Daryl Morey broke up his team just before he finally got a big man who could score? The 7-foot Motiejunas isn't much of a rebounding and defensive presence, but there is no doubt that he can score -- and from a lot of spots, too. He's already pretty polished and can use either hand to finish, which helps him play with a lot of confidence when the ball in his hands. The Rockets just waived Luis Scola via the amnesty clause mostly for the cap space going forward, but having a power forward like Big D helped that process at least a little bit. We rarely see big rookies score 64 points in three of four games while hitting 28 of 40 shots in summer league (two of those games came after an 0-5 stinker).




    Kidd-Gilchrist

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | Charlotte Bobcats
    Summer stats (one game): 18 ppg (50% shooting), 8 rpg, 5 apg, 4 spg

    OK, so he played only one game. But no one can deny that it was a very impressive one game. It helped that the Bobcats used a press the whole time and the Sacramento Kings were woefully unprepared for it; as a result, MKG's defensive intensity and awareness overall led him to easy looks on offense. But even in a half-court game, Kidd-Gilchrist looks like someone who will excel on defense and in transition. Michael Jordan called MKG the Bobcats' Scottie Pippen, and the rookie looks like he can indeed be the center of their defense and find ways to score without occupying the ball much in their halfcourt offense. He looks like he can play 35 minutes a game from day one.





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    The disappointments
    Players who will get lots of playing time despite what they did in Vegas




    Robinson

    Thomas Robinson | Sacramento Kings
    Summer stats: 13 ppg (34% shooting), 9.8 rpg, 3 apg, 1 spg

    At worst, Robinson will give the Kings some toughness and someone who can play with an edge and has the athleticism to make things happen with that edge. But he looked very lost on the perimeter, with a jumper more broken than any other first-round pick and too much interest in "showing it off" rather than focusing on working the paint. I loved him in the draft, but he has a lot of work to do to be worthy of a top-five pick. The good news is he has the talent to get a lot better.




    Waiters

    Dion Waiters | Cleveland Cavaliers
    Summer stats: 12.3 ppg (30% shooting), 3 rpg, 3 apg, 1 spg

    Waiters looked like a combo-guard, and often more like a point guard without great passing skills. Which would be OK if Cleveland didn't already have one of the top young point guards in the league. I know the staff is high on Waiters, based on scouting him all season, but no one in Vegas saw what they had seen all year. He'll likely play a good amount, so he'll have plenty of chances to figure things out.




    Rivers

    Austin Rivers | New Orleans Hornets
    Summer stats: 10 ppg (21% shooting), 2.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2 spg

    I liked what I saw from Rivers, but he didn't get much run after being pulled before their third game. He looked like a true point guard to me, running the offense and looking for teammates before himself. His fundamentals are strong, but it's going to be a while before he learns how to beat his defender and then score against the help. He already can do the first part. The second part is far trickier, especially when you can't just overwhelm the help physically like Rose or Russell Westbrook.





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    Next in line
    NBA rotation players, sooner rather than later


    Jones

    Terrence Jones | Houston RocketsSummer stats: 18.2 ppg (50% shooting), 8.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.4 bpg

    Soft touch, with the ability to get quality shots off over taller and longer players. That's the first thing I noticed about Jones. Then I started wondering if he was going to be like Darrell Arthur -- a power forward who was doubted for a few reasons, only to become a pivotal player in his team's national championship run. Jones has a lot of talented 4s to contend with in Houston; Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris (who will likely play small forward as well), and Motiejunas all deserve minutes next to Omer Asik, who needs an offensive talent next to him. Jones will eventually get minutes too -- even if it's on another team.




    Sullinger

    Jared Sullinger | Boston Celtics
    Summer stats: 12.3 ppg (35% shooting), 8.4 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.8 bpg

    Sullinger is probably your winner of "most impressive of the summer." Not because of his huge production, but because his steady play over almost three straight weeks of action. First, it was a strong debut in four games in as many days in Orlando. Then he followed it up with a few strong games in Vegas. Sullinger and his teammates were dead tired by the end of Las Vegas Summer League, in which he never played fewer than 24 minutes until the very last game on Sunday. Great hands, touch and rebounding prowess will force the Celtics to get him minutes just as soon as he learns their defensive plans, which could be by opening day. His presence makes Kevin Garnett's move to the center spot academic.




    Jenkins

    John Jenkins | Atlanta Hawks
    Summer stats: 15.6 ppg (51% shooting), 2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 spg

    A year ago I felt Nolan Smith was a surefire NBA rotation guy because of his quickness and good (maybe one day great) shooting. I felt the same way this year about Jenkins, who has a quick and deadly release. He's not someone who is going to provide a lot of things for his team, but within a season or two, Jenkins can become a shooting specialist in Atlanta and earn a bid to the 3-point contest at All-Star Weekend.




    Ross

    Terrence Ross | Toronto Raptors
    Summer stats: 14.4 ppg (37% shooting), 3.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1 spg

    Ross has more potential than DeMar DeRozan simply because he's a far superior shooter. Or at least that's what I've been suggesting. He did not look the part this past week, though his form is basically solid. As he learns better shot selection, his size and fluidity should help him earn serious minutes for the Raptors, and he could end up being a great partner to Kyle Lowry because Lowry likes to get his own shot and Ross had no issues in Vegas moving the ball.




    Nicholson

    Andrew Nicholson | Orlando Magic
    Summer stats: 12.6 ppg (47% shooting), 6.8 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.4 bpg

    Big, beefy guys who don't mind contact and can make shots are always very valuable players. With Orlando and Dwight Howard likely to part ways at some point, Nicholson has an even better chance at getting early minutes, thanks in large part to his strong summer showing. He has some post moves already that have Orlando fans muttering about him being more polished than Howard is now. That's not even remotely true, though Nicholson has the kind of body (6-foot-9, 250 pounds) and game that translates into a long NBA career.




    James

    Bernard James | Dallas Mavericks
    Summer stats: 10.2 ppg (61% shooting), 9 rpg, 0 apg, 2.6 bpg

    It's almost unfair putting a man on this list, which is clearly what James is. Tough, hard-nosed, with a feel for shot-blocking, James will likely get on the court right away as a nice complement to Dirk Nowitzki off the bench. He'll know his role and take joy from being a defensive spark, like he did in Vegas, where he led all players in total blocked shots.




    Lamb

    Doron Lamb | Milwaukee Bucks
    Summer stats: 14 ppg (46% shooting), 0.0 3P%, 2.8 rpg, 0.8 apg

    Lamb actually will have a similar role to the one he already mastered in college: play off other guys, flow to open spots, knock down open shots and make heady plays on both ends of the floor. He's not going to be a ROY candidate, but I can envision first team All-Rookie if he gets enough playing time. Lamb averaged 14 points a game in Vegas despite not making a single 3-pointer thanks to his feel for the game and not forcing things. He's the perfect type of shooting guard to play next to Jennings or Monta Ellis.





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    Biggest surprises
    May not make rotations soon, but showed real potential

    Kyle O'Quinn | Orlando Magic
    Rugged interior guy who can both defend the paint on the ground and in the air.

    Tony Wroten | Memphis Grizzlies
    Showed off his natural passing skills and an (slightly) improved jump shot.

    Perry Jones | Oklahoma City Thunder
    Still has to improve and get healthy, but has enough talent to crack a deep Thunder rotation.

    Miles Plumlee | Indiana Pacers
    Showed off his athleticism slashing to the rim for dunks after the catch and a decent perimeter jumper.

    Evan Fournier | Denver Nuggets
    Tougher than he looks, plays a lot like Doron Lamb without the same shooting stroke. A solid player in a season or two.

    Tyshawn Taylor | Brooklyn Nets
    Super-fast and super-quick guys that are mentally tough always find a home in the league if they are tall enough, which Taylor is.
     
  2. primtim24

    primtim24 Contributing Member

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    Summer league has a bad reputation as a set of games that don't predict anything.

    I, on the other hand, have always felt that it serves a better purpose: Telling us where players are today, and giving us a glimpse of where they can be tomorrow.

    We first saw the attacking skills of Jeremy Lin at the Las Vegas Summer League in 2010. Combine that with the great improvement he showed as a shooter and you can begin to see how he became the player he was last season, to some degree. Ditto Brandon Jennings, who was a jump shot away from being a solid starter when we first saw him in Vegas. Jeff Foster proved to be a terrific rebounder in his first summer league action, as did Udonis Haslem; both guys used their summer efforts to help carve out careers by far outclassing their projections coming out of college.

    So here's what I'm taking away from the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, as we head into a nine-week "dark" period for these young guys before they officially surface again for training camp in late September/early October.


    Jeremy Lamb | Houston RocketsSummer stats: 20 ppg (47% shooting), 4.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1 spg

    Lamb is a dynamic scorer with the ball in his hands, and he is better off the bounce than I expected, given his size (though he does tend to stand and watch when the ball isn't moving toward him). Lamb might also be the best shooter in this class. His coaches in Houston will need to add more wrinkles to their offense, so they can take advantage of his ability to score off screens when he's running from side to side or bottom to top.

    Donatas Motiejunas | Houston Rockets
    Summer stats: 16.3 ppg (62% shooting), 7.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.8 bpg

    Is it not ironic that GM Daryl Morey broke up his team just before he finally got a big man who could score? The 7-foot Motiejunas isn't much of a rebounding and defensive presence, but there is no doubt that he can score -- and from a lot of spots, too. He's already pretty polished and can use either hand to finish, which helps him play with a lot of confidence when the ball in his hands. The Rockets just waived Luis Scola via the amnesty clause mostly for the cap space going forward, but having a power forward like Big D helped that process at least a little bit. We rarely see big rookies score 64 points in three of four games while hitting 28 of 40 shots in summer league (two of those games came after an 0-5 stinker).

    Next in line
    NBA rotation players, sooner rather than later

    Terrence Jones | Houston Rockets
    Summer stats: 18.2 ppg (50% shooting), 8.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.4 bpg

    Soft touch, with the ability to get quality shots off over taller and longer players. That's the first thing I noticed about Jones. Then I started wondering if he was going to be like Darrell Arthur -- a power forward who was doubted for a few reasons, only to become a pivotal player in his team's national championship run. Jones has a lot of talented 4s to contend with in Houston; Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris (who will likely play small forward as well), and Motiejunas all deserve minutes next to Omer Asik, who needs an offensive talent next to him. Jones will eventually get minutes too -- even if it's on another team.
     
  3. moreyball

    moreyball Member

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    Where's Royce White???
     
  4. Raven

    Raven Member

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    Keep the kids!
     
  5. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    Royce White is snubbed.
     
  6. conquistador#11

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    Agree with keeping our kids. **


    ** unless you can land the trade with orlando. =)
     
  7. CheukLau

    CheukLau Member

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    Rollz will be very likely to be sent to D-League. Don't get me wrong I do like him but he isn't that ready for NBA yet.
     
  8. coachbadlee

    coachbadlee Member

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    Just more proof of a bright future for us.
     
  9. moreyball

    moreyball Member

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    Muthaf*****z!!!:mad::mad:
     
  10. coachbadlee

    coachbadlee Member

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    I'm starting to think Royce will go to D-league. Only because there is no room in the rotation with Pats starting..
     
  11. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    if this roster stays as is he will play.
     
  12. CheukLau

    CheukLau Member

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    Rollz is very smart and has great vision, but he is lack of some basic skill to make it to the roster.
     
  13. RCKTBachar

    RCKTBachar Member

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    Royce White is not going to the D league. He is ready and will play. He is already better than Morris.
     
  14. CheukLau

    CheukLau Member

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    Some of my thought on Rollz
    Rollz doesn't have consistent mid-range shoot which is very demanding on McHale type of offensive system.
    Rollz has trouble on his defensive footwork... One of the reason why Morris was ran out of McHale's favour is that his defensive footwork couldn't up to pick and roll and NBA SF, and Rollz seems to have worse defensive footwork than Morris.
    Rollz has nice passing skill, but he is lack of finishing skill around the basket. In regular season no one will bother to double team him if he can't even finish around the rim...
     
  15. CheukLau

    CheukLau Member

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    Not true Morris is playing better than Rollz atm, but Rollz seems to have a high upside than Morris.
     
  16. CheukLau

    CheukLau Member

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    Fixed
     
  17. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

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    Oh dear, that is such an unfortunate statement. Perhaps you did not watch the summer league games. MookMorris sucked for most of the time he was on the floor. Bad decissions, bad shots, very very very very bad defense.... did I say bad defense? I think I meant non existent, matador defense.
     
  18. kpsta

    kpsta Contributing Member

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    Why are there no mentions of White's passing? :(
     
  19. CheukLau

    CheukLau Member

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    In Adelman's system, I can see him earn about 10 min playing time a game, but in Mchale's system, he won't be playing for now.
     
  20. CheukLau

    CheukLau Member

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    I watched all of them indeed, I don't think Rollz did a better job than Morris. Indeed they are both weak in D footwork. And it seemed to me Morris was slight better than Rollz...
    It is true that Morris had poor decision making, but he probably won't have much chance to handle the ball. In McHale system he will simply need to d and shoot.
     

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