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Five players who have stood out at the Orlando Summer League

Jul 9, 2013, 2:17 PM EDT

Kelly Olynyk AP

Be careful about reading too much into success at NBA Summer League — the old adage is Summer League doesn’t tell you who can play in the NBA, only who cannot. Look at it this way, last year’s Las Vegas Summer League co-MVPs were Damian Lillard and Josh Selby. A future Rookie of the Year and a guy who couldn’t find the court.

That said, guys are making names for themselves and getting noticed already. This week the Summer League fun kicked off in Orlando, with the circus moving to Las Vegas on Friday (PBT will have extensive coverage from Vegas). We’ve been watching the games from Orlando (on NBA TV).

Here are five guys who have stood out so far.

Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics. We’ve already told you about him in some detail — he has had three big games in three days for the Celtics. The question about him coming out of Gonzaga was how he would hang with the higher level of athleticism of the NBA. In Summer League he has been decisive with his moves when he gets the ball and has shown he can score inside. He’s been impressive and done it for all three games..

Darius Johnson-Odom, Boston Celtics. DJO has played like a guy that deserves a contract somewhere. He had 22 points and was in full attack mode in the Celtics Day 2 win over the Detroit. He showed the athleticism that got the Lakers to draft him in the first place. He also showed some impressive playmaking skills. He has played his way into a make-good contract (meaning not guaranteed but he could make the roster) somewhere at least.

Miles and Mason Plumlee, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets. Sure, we can combine the two brothers into one. Miles has brought the kind of energy to the Pacers that makes you think he could get a few of Tyler Hansbrough’s minutes next season. Miles had a huge 16-point, 15-rebound, four-block game in Orlando. Mason has been attacking the rim for Brooklyn, putting on a dunking exhibition, and showing why he should make the Nets roster. He’s not going to get a lot of run behind Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche, but he shows promise.

Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic. If you watched him at all last season you knew this guy was good. In Summer League what he has shown is a lot of polish and a plethora of moves. Near the basket he has shown a drop step and a nice jump hook, the athleticism to get the rim, plus he has a solid jump shot as well. He’s still a work in progress but there is a lot to like.

Khalif Wyatt, Philadelphia 76ers. He hung 25 points on the Pacers with an impressive variety of shots — floaters, jumpers, getting to the rim for layups. The guy can flat out score and that got him noticed. However, his overall point guard play and his defense (particularly on the pick-and-roll) have to get a better for the Temple guard to make an NBA roster.

  1. saint1997 - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    I think Solomon Hill for Indy has been a surprise as well. Everyone thought he was a reach but he has impressed with his ability to score. KCP and Burke on the other hand have been surprisingly poor…

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 9, 2013 at 5:31 PM

      Absolutely Saint. Hill has been solid thus far. And the only people who thought he was a reach were the pundits. Pacers brass said their phones started ringing immediately after selecting him. Trade request after trade request. With the Pacers declining all of them of course.

  2. unxpexted1 - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    OKC has some young talent on their squads that have played well. This kid Roberson is an athletic freak and looks to maybe take the play of a Thabo Stefolosha. And this Jarrett kid can shoot the lights out. They have both come out of nowhere. OKC has done well in the draft for the most part, even stephen adams looked good that first game.

    You should do Orlando summer league bust because Trey Burke and Jeremy lamb have been AWFUL!

  3. deavn - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Kelly Olynyk has stood out the most to me so far. I think he’s more NBA ready than the other picks because of how well his game will transition to the NBA. He’s offensively sound. His defense needs a little work but you’re not going to come across many centers who can put the ball on the floor and shoot. And he takes high percentage shots. He has basketball smarts. That’s going to be a dangerous combo when him and Rondo get on the court together. It’s going to be like a “pick your poison” scenario.

    • bradybbgoat - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      Pick your poison? Let’s not anoint this guy after three summer league games. Defenses are going to focus on Rondo all day long, and rightfully so.
      I’m just hopeful that

      • bradybbgoat - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:54 PM

        *Hopeful that KO can knock down some open jumpers, a la KG.

  4. djax10isthebomb - Jul 9, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    The grammar in this article is pretty awful. How hard is it to double check before you post it?

    • cmehustle - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      It was honestly hard for me to read this. I wasnt expecting rocket science but dam, this looked like a text message from somebody.

  5. pantsfreezone - Jul 9, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Ian Clark deserves a mention since unlike all of these guys, especially Olynyk, he might still be in the NBA in 3 years.

    • jonevans511 - Jul 9, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      Assuming Khalif works on his conditioning, he’ll be in the league much longer than 3 years. He’s got scoring abilities that not many players do, and if he can complement that with some defensive intensity he’ll be on a roster for sure.

    • iritian - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      Are you crazy? Olynyk looks like a guy that can easily have a 10-12 year career just based on the moves he has now.

    • cmehustle - Jul 9, 2013 at 5:15 PM


  6. rickyspanish - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:17 PM


    Calling them out on grammar is like beating your head against a wall. They don’t pay attention because they don’t care.

    • mogogo1 - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      True enough, but it wasn’t just the grammar. There’s punctuation missing in some places, caps appearing in the middle of sentences… It really does look like he texted this in from his phone while he was holding a conversation with somebody else. Kurt’s not the world’s best writer, but he’s usually far better than this.

  7. j0esixpack - Jul 9, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Geeze – part of me does expect professional “journalists” to use proper grammar – but the Grammar Police here seem to be taking it personally. I guess if not used in the media at least then we’ll all be typing and talking like text messages.

    To the point at hand – I don’t care how sub-par the competition is

    Look up an Olynyk summer league highlight reel and you’ll see the following:

    A 7 footer (and yes – being 7 feet tall instantly gives him a great chance of not only catching on, but having a decent career) who can calmly and smoothly sink multiple NBA 3 pointers to really stretch the court and open things up for penetration by his teammates

    A 7 footer who can run, dribble and move with the ball – well.

    A 7 footer with a good turnaround jumper

    A 7 footer with good post up and inside moves.

    Those skills are real and don’t go away with better competition – you either can do it or you can’t – and Olynyk most certainly can.

    The only thing I didn’t really see is how physical he is – can he take it? Can he dish it out? That remains to be seen as summer league doesn’t seem to get that down and dirty – and the physicality of the NBA is certainly different than in college.

  8. bigwii - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    Pantsfreezone you’re a hater and troll get back under your bridge. Just because someone doesn’t play for the Heat doesn’t mean they won’t be good. I’ve noticed your very cocky when it comes to the Heat. That won’t last too much longer maybe 1 or 2 years max so enjoy it while you can, or will you be jumping to the next best team in the league. Either way your comment made no sense figured I’d state the obvious.

    Most of those players will definitely be in the league, especially Olynyk and Nicholson but it’s obvious you were wrong anyway.

  9. pauliewalnuts90 - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    Ian Clark is looking decent for the Heat up in Orlando. Tyshawn Taylor looked pretty good for the Nets today too.

  10. tcclark - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    I love Khalif Wyatt. In a league that is dominated by pure athleticism, it is awesome to see a player with actual skill. I’m rooting for him quite a bit. He reminds me a lot of Andre Miller. Andre has been one of my favorite players for years because he’s consistently outmatched athletically and yet he’s still suceeding even in his late thirties.

    Now let me get this out here first and foremost, Khalif Wyatt and Andre Miller have two completely different games. Andre is a pure point guard who has the ability to play the point whereas, Khalif is more of an off guard who plays the point often to get the ball in his hands. However, the way they use their bodies is so similar. Both players are not the most athletic, yet both can get to the rim and score by using their bodies. Both players are built (Khalif Wyatt weighs more than Nerlens Noel) and when they get in the lane, they use their heavy frames to seperate the defender from the ball. If you’ve seen both players it’s almost eerie how similar this is.

    I think if Khalif wants to be successful in this league he should watch more of what Andre Miller does in this league. He really helped Lou Williams become the player he is today. Lou has an excellent shot fake and draws a lot of fouls from that. He learned that from Andre Miller.

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