Skip to content

Five biggest surprises from Summer League

Jul 23, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

D-League Select v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

The Las Vegas Summer League has its champion, its MVP, and its standout players. Before we move on from Las Vegas however, let’s take a look at one more group:

The surprises.

The players we didn’t expect to perform well, or otherwise did something unexpected. Here are the five guys on my list.

Russ Smith (New Orleans Pelicans). Summer League often becomes the world of point guards trying to get noticed by shooting the ball. Big men with good post position go hungry while guards pound the ball into the ground then cross-over, step back and fire away. Not Russ Smith, the Louisville guard playing for the Pelicans was a real floor general. Yes he scored 16 points a game but he had 6.4 assists a game as well in Vegas. There are adjustments to be made for him to stick in the league long term (more than four turnovers a game) but he was a second round pick who looks like a guy who could give the Pelicans some steady minutes at the point as a reserve.

• Glen Rice Jr. (Washington Wizards). We’ve covered the Summer League MVP more than once here at PBT, but he has to go on this list as well — we didn’t expect him to put up these kinds of numbers for Washington (25 points a game and did it shooting better than 50 percent until a rough last outing dropped him to 46.9 percent). He and Otto Porter showed some real chemistry together and look for Randy Wittman to give them a chance when the games matter to prove that pairing can have success outside Vegas.

• Ivan Johnson gets ejected. I’ve been attending NBA Summer League since it was in the Pyramid in Long Beach and I don’t remember ever seeing a player get ejected before (it may have happened, but I don’t recall it). Ivan Johnson changed that. A day after a classic interview with Basketball Insiders where he said exactly what he would do to anyone who got in front of him, Johnson (playing for the Mavericks) got frustrated with a non-call against the Hornets and used some words we can’t reprint here and that got him sent to the showers. Johnson is the one guy banned from the Korean league for life, at least nothing went that far.

• T.J Warren (Phoenix Suns). Warren was one of the best scorers in college last season but there were questions about whether his game could translate to the NBA. Well, it can if he gets out and runs in transition then scores at the basket — Warren averaged 17.8 points a game and shot 54.4 percent. Warren landed in the right place with Jeff Hornacek and the up-tempo Suns, if he gets out and runs with the bench players, and can keep finishing like he did in Vegas, he’ll get some points.

Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers). Another guy from our standouts list who re-appears here because, well, who expected anything out of Bennett? After missing last summer with a shoulder injury then having a historically bad rookie season for a No. 1 pick, Bennett showed up to Vegas in shape and ready to work — he averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. More importantly, he was in shape enough to play hard and physical for a full quarter. He still needs a lot of polish to his game but he looked like a guy who can be a rotation big man, which is more than you would have said much of last season.

Latest Posts
  1. It’s official: J.R. Smith re-signs with Cavaliers

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    J.R. Smith J.R. Smith

    He’s making $1.5 million less than if he opted in this season, but he does have another year.

  2. Brad Stevens hints he will explore taller, more traditional lineups

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Brad Stevens AP

    With the additions to the Celtics’ roster, this is the smart play.

  3. Report: Free agent Glen Davis to have ankle surgery, out 2-3 months

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    Glen Davis Glen Davis

    He could be back on the court around Thanksgiving, if a team picks him up.

  4. Dwight Howard tried to take loaded gun through airport security, will not face charges

    Sep 2, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Getty Images

    Don’t bring a loaded Glock to an airport, people. It’s pretty much common sense.

  5. Report: Clippers planning a mascot

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:13 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Utah Jazz Getty Images

    It won’t be called Seagull Kneivel

  6. D-League Showcase will use net rating as tiebreaker

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:14 PM EDT

    2015 NBA D League Showcase Getty Images

    Advanced stats aren’t always the answer

  7. Shaq with the coolest fist bump ever (video)

    Sep 2, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game One Getty Images

    If only I could get people to run up to fist bump me while I walk…

  8. Report: 76ers interested in Kendall Marshall

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:23 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    Point guard reportedly working out in Philadelphia

  9. Ty Lawson on coming to Houston: “It’s definitely a breath of fresh air”

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    For Lawson personally I hope this move and this situation is what he needs to get his life in order.

  10. Report: Pistons signing Eric Griffin

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:07 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Griffin will give Pistons 19 players, 17 with guaranteed salaries

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2369)
  2. K. Irving (2095)
  3. A. Davis (1830)
  4. K. Bryant (1461)
  5. L. James (1446)
  1. A. Aminu (1360)
  2. K. Durant (1329)
  3. M. Leonard (1325)
  4. T. Thompson (1230)
  5. E. Mudiay (1173)