Skip to content

Seven standout players from Las Vegas Summer League

Jul 22, 2014, 8:42 AM EDT

Nerlens Noel, Akil Mitchell Nerlens Noel, Akil Mitchell

NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is over, the Sacramento Kings are deserving champions with their veteran roster.

But Summer League isn’t about winning teams and a trophy, it’s about player development and guys showcasing their talents to campaign for a bigger role next season (or in some cases to get a contract for next season.

Here are seven guys that caught my eye during my week in Sin City.

Nerlens Noel (Philadelphia 76ers). He only played twice as the Sixers continue to bring him along slowly, but you can quickly see where this guy could be a force for Philly in future years. He is seven-foot, long and bouncy, all of which combine to make him an intimidating defensive force in the paint. Noel works hard on the glass. He plays with more physicality than you would expect — he’s thin and his center of gravity is too high to do much post damage, but he had the will to mix it up inside. He runs the floor and gets his points. Noel’s second Vegas outing wasn’t as impressive as his first, he needs to slow down and let the game come to him. And he needs to work on his touch around the rim, his running hook and his post moves. That said, he is going to have an impact for the Sixers this season.

Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers). He showed up to Summer League in much better shape (down 20 pounds by his count but but the eyeball test would suggest more) and with that he was able to play with energy and be a beast on the boards and on defense. He will forever be saddled with being the No. 1 overall pick and his terrible rookie season, and there is a lot of work to do on his game still, but he showed in Las Vegas he could be a solid rotation big man in the NBA.

• Glen Rice Jr. (Washington Wizards). The leading scorer in Summer League, he averaged 25 points a game, and he was shooting better than 50 percent up until the last game of the Summer League for the Wizards. Rice and Otto Porter formed a good 1-2 combo with Porter doing more ball handling and Rice as the shooter. Porter is going to get quality minutes behind Paul Pierce and Rice made a good case to get big minutes behind Bradley Beal. The question is how will those two adapt to working more off the ball on a team with quality point guards in John Wall and Andre Miller.

Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls). He was the most impressive player in Vegas out of this year’s draft (not saying he will be the best player out of this class, or win Rookie of the Year, but he shone in Vegas). We knew he could shoot the rock and he did shoot 44.4 percent from three in Vegas, but he also showed a more diverse offensive game where he could put the ball on the floor, create space for himself and make some creative plays. We’ve got questions about his defense, and if Tom Thibodeau has questions about his defense that’s bad for McDermott’s minutes. But he’s going to get minutes with the Bulls and has some real potential.

• Donatas Montiejunas (Houston Rockets). The Rockets center plays well in this setting — he is either too strong or too quick for just about anyone trying to guard him, plus his varied offense and crafty game gets him good look buckets. The result was 16.8 points per game on 59.3 percent shooting, plus he pulled down 8.1 rebounds a game. He just went to show what happens when you stick a legitimate, quality NBA rotation big man into Summer League — he owns it. The question is if he will get those midrange jumpers he was knocking down when the games start this fall. If he plays for the Rockets next season like he did in Las Vegas they just got a big boost.

Dante Exum (Utah Jazz). His numbers were not standout — 7.2 points a game on 30.8 percent shooting — but there were flashes where you realized this guy is going to be very good. He has a real star quality about him. He has a wicked hesitation dribble with a crazy-quick burst. He is tall for a guard and that combined with a fantastic floor vision leads to some very smart passes. He is very quick with the ball and can get into the paint. He has a lot of work to do on his shot and being a floor general, but in a few yeas the Jazz may have a steal here.

Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves). He averaged a double-double in Vegas of 11.5 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. He uses his athleticism well on the glass and on defense. On offense he worked hard off the ball and when he got the rock near he rim he showed deft footwork. He sets a mean screen. He fiercely protected the rim. Minnesota has an established front line (well, depending on what happens with Kevin Love) but they are going to have to give Dieng more minutes. His play is starting to demand it.

Honorable mention of other guys who caught my eye: T.J. Warren (Phoenix Suns), C.J McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers), Tony Snell (Chicago Bulls), Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Henriquez (New York Knicks), Jarnell Stokes (Grizzlies), Jordan McRae (Philadelphia 76ers), Russ Smith (New Orleans Pelicans), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Dennis Schroder (Atlanta Hawks).

Latest Posts
  1. Mavericks sign Jamil Wilson, Brandon Ashley

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards vs New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Dallas also reportedly talking to Salah Mejri

  2. Report: Serge Ibaka not yet cleared to play after March surgery

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:19 PM EDT

    "Son Of The Congo" - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival Getty Images

    Thunder power forward was scheduled to play in African exhibition game

  3. Heat sign Josh Richardson

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT

    Josh Richardson, Spencer Dinwiddle AP

    Miami cleared roster room for second-round pick

  4. Nicolas Batum responds to Toronto rumor in hysterical fashion

    Jul 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    I can tell you where Batum will land next summer — whichever team offers him the most money.

  5. Report: Knicks, Lakers, Wizards still interested in Kevin Seraphin

    Jul 28, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The Lakers and Knicks don’t make a ton of sense for him.

  6. Former NBA All-Star Vin Baker training to be Starbucks manager

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Vin Baker AP

    He’s been sober four years, which is most important.

  7. Report: Michael Jordan shot down Boston draft-day effort to get Charlotte No. 9 pick

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Michael Jordan Michael Jordan

    Did Michael Jordan hijack the draft process in Charlotte again?

  8. Wisconsin State Assembly passes Bucks arena deal, clearing the way for Gov. Walker to sign

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    Scott Walker Scott Walker

    Walker is expected to sign the bill to allocate funds for a new arena.

  9. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov: “We had a really good offseason.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Mikhail Prokhorov Mikhail Prokhorov

    The Nets added solid role players in addition to re-signing Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.

  10. Report: Clippers center Ekpe Udoh signs one-year deal in Turkey

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    Ekpe Udoh Ekpe Udoh

    Udoh played five seasons with the Warriors, Bucks and Clippers.

  11. Matt Barnes on Serge Ibaka: “He’s just dirty.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:59 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green

    Barnes hasn’t forgotten Ibaka’s altercations with Blake Griffin.

  12. Karl-Anthony Towns: I want Kevin Garnett to teach me “how to be a champion”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    Garnett came out to Summer League practices to work with Towns.

  13. Mason Plumlee rapping? Yes, Mason Plumlee rapping. (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee with a money gun shooting $100s.

  14. James Ennis allows Heat to push back decision on him until opening night

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:40 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Ennis will get the chance to prove his case in training camp.

  15. Gregg Popovich missed games last November due to heart procedure

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    150728_GreggPopovich Getty Images

    Larry Brown said the condition had Popovich thinking about retirement.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (3508)
  2. S. Curry (3013)
  3. K. Durant (2468)
  4. B. Haywood (2377)
  5. J. Fredette (2347)
  1. L. James (2306)
  2. I. Thomas (2300)
  3. T. Hansbrough (2226)
  4. C. Copeland (2136)
  5. A. Davis (1950)