The Golden State Warriors won the 2013 Las Vegas NBA Summer League championship earlier this week, defeating the Phoenix Suns 91-77. For folks going through hoops withdrawal after this season’s thrilling Finals between the Heat and Spurs, the action in Vegas was a great opportunity to watch the rookies and young players who could have an immediate impact next year.
Here’s a list of those who impressed me this summer:
1 – Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Oladipo showed some Dewayne Wade-esque ability to slash through defenses as he effectively swung between point and shooting guard duties. He looked very competent as a facilitator, played excellent defense, was very fluid and instinctual on both ends of the floor and displayed a more polished jumper that, if he maintains it, will have him among the front runners as next season’s Rookie of the Year. (Victor Oladipo highlights)
2 – Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
Olynyk’s scoring arsenal, footwork and touch — both in the paint and away from the basket — helped him toy with the competition in the Orlando Summer League. In five games, he averaged 18 points and eight rebounds while shooting close to 60% from the floor. Clearly one of the best players this summer from both summer leagues. (Kelly Olynyk highlights)
3 – Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson looks more than ready to supply the Thunder with some added firepower off the bench next year. His 35-point gem against Detroit was one of the best offensive performances this summer. (Reggie Jackson highlights)
4 – Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas dominated the competition in Vegas with his inside play. In the post, rolling off screens and scrapping for rebounds, the young fella, who added close to 20 pounds of muscle during the off-season, looks ready to step his game up next year. He seemed to do a good job of picking the opportune spots to attack the defense within the frame of each offensive set. Expect him to get more touches next year, where his presence could help the combination of Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan flourish north of the border.
5 – Kent Bazemore, Golden State Warriors
Bazemore probably opened more eyes than anyone else this summer. The second-year guard out of Old Dominion was easily the most exciting player to watch. With the Warriors becoming one of the must-see teams to watch next season — and with Jarrett Jack gone — expect Bazemore’s profile and worth to increase significantly. Not only did he sizzle on the offensive end, but his defensive ball-pressure was also very impressive.(Kent Bazemore highlights)
6 – John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
Henson averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks during limited play. He seems to be inching closer toward turning his immense potential into solid production. (John Henson highlights)
7 – Andrew Goudelock, Chicago Bulls
Andrew Goudelock might make Bulls fans forget about backup point guard Nate Robinson faster than most people anticipated. Goudelock played sparingly (that’s putting it mildly) for the Lakers during the past two seasons, but he looked great in Vegas, scorching with a devastating long-range jumper, some smooth moves and great body control while attacking the paint. (Andrew Goudelock highlights)
8 – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
Zeller ran the floor with purpose, making himself a factor in transition. He looks like he can be a nice addition and solid role player for the soon-to-be Hornets during his rookie campaign.
9 – C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
McCollum has the potential one day to be a standout guard. He put the ball in the hole and looked good creating his own shots as a 2-guard. A back court combination with last season’s Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard, should be one of the league’s most exciting and dynamic in the years ahead.
10/11 – The Morris Twins (Markieff and Marcus), Phoenix Suns
Reunited again in Phoenix, Markieff and Marcus averaged 30 points and 15 boards between them while playing with an intensity that many of their competitors were unable to summon.
12 – Ian Clark, Miami Heat
Clark, undrafted out of Belmont, played for the Heat’s team in the Orlando League and Golden State’s team in the Vegas League. His play definitely assured himself a training camp invite from somebody due to his compelling work during the past few weeks, especially his 33-point gem in the championship game in Vegas.