Winners and losers of the Summer League

BY foxsports • July 23, 2012

A quick look at the good, bad and the ugly among drafted rookies at the NBA summer league, which wrapped up this past weekend: The Really Good Damian Lillard, PG, Trail Blazers. Played well at any speed, scored at will, proved to be a better-than-expected passer. High energy, athletic and plays with an edge. Left some scouts uttering the name of Isiah Thomas. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Bobcats. Played in just one game, but looked to be everything the Bobcats hoped for and more — finishing with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in 21 minutes. The biggest reason this sad-sack team has already made great strides during off-season. Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Rockets. Was actually drafted in 2011 but didn’t play in NBA. Displayed smoothness near the basket, as well as a soft perimeter touch. Not real physical, but very skilled and should be an underrated addition to a team that helped itself immensely. Even without Dwight Howard. Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics. Showed the same toughness around the basket that he displayed in college, faking out defenders and drawing fouls with old-school moves. Shows he already knows the pro game, and should be an immediate contributor. John Henson, PF, Bucks. Drafted 14th because of multiple accusations that he’s too soft. Proved otherwise in summer league, altering shots and positioning himself for rebounds. Also buried long jumps with consistency — a pleasant surprise not even the Bucks expected. The Not-Too-Shabby Terrence Jones, F, Rockets. Handled the ball and shot well, showing dexterity, strength and fluidity. Looks like he’ll be a tough guard for both small and power forwards — as in, too sturdy for wing players and too quick for big men. Andrew Nicholson, PF, Magic. Not much at the defensive end, but fundamentally sound with the ball and aggressive near the basket. Basically, was a 19-point, 12-rebound guy in college, and his skills look as if they’ll transfer well to the pros. Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards. Outside shot was so-so all week, but that didn’t stop him from making major contributions. Finished well on the break and never forced anything. Athletic and understands the game. Wizards should be happy. Jeremy Lamb, SG, Rockets. Best coming-off-a-screen shooter in summer league. Deadly from baseline, and just an all-around smooth operator. Surprised a few defenders by putting ball on floor, driving around them and finishing at the rim. Again, Rockets get an A-plus. Harrison Barnes, SF, Warriors. Looked to be little more than a spot-up shooter, but that’s OK,. It’s what the Warriors were hoping for. And, man, the kid can knock ‘em down. Mostly, though, looked all-around polished and like a potential 20-point-a-night scorer when locked in. The Reasons for Hope John Jenkins, SG, Hawks. Shot better than 50 percent from the floor, and we’re not talking about layups. Actually, for Jenkins they were, as he rolled off picks, received passes and buried long jump after long jumper. One-dimensional, but performed that one dimension very well. Jeff Taylor, SG/SF, Bobcats. Another Vanderbilt guy (like Jenkins) who lived up to his billing — except Taylor made his reputation at the defensive end. Ended the week having drawn comparisons to Thunder swingman Thabo Sefolosha, with Taylor duisrupting would-be scorers at both shooting guard and small forward. He also proved to be an accurate 3-point marksman. Meyers Leonard, C, Trail Blazers. Worked well in pick-and-roll situations with Lillard, a good sign of potential things to come in Portland. Hustled, crashed the glass, and displayed an ability to finish. Should be a nice player in this league for a long time. Tyler Zeller, C, Cavaliers. Another big man who did a little of everything well, relying on his height and athleticism to score and rebound. Surprised a few with his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. Might take some time to adapt to the pro game, but already well-wounded enough to at least be solid. Terrence Ross, SF, Raptors. Struggled to get into the paint, but displayed a penchant for knocking down open jumpers. That should make him the perfect Raptor. Actually, his defense really does give reason for hope. But still must determine the difference between a good shot and one that’s taken solely because he thinks it’s his turn. The Strugglers Dion Waiters, SG, Cavaliers. Showed up out-of-shape and stood around way too much. Defense was average, and downright awful at times. Showed some real promise in isolation, but he won’t get that many opportunities with Kyrie Irving dominating the ball. Outside shot, and understanding of pro game, clearly need some work. Thomas Robinson, PF, Kings. Appeared timid and failed to go  underneath and take charge even once — which is pretty much the opposite of the way he played in college. Wasn’t awful, but like Waiters, left people wondering why he was a top-five pick. On the bright side, like Waiters, Robinson showed promise and may only need some time. After all, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose struggled in summer play, and all he did was go on to win NBA MVP. Best of the Rest Andre Drummond, PF/C, Pistons
Royce White, F, Rockets Jae Crowder, F, Mavericks Doron Lamb, SG, Bucks Royce White, F, Rockets Will Barton, SF/SG, Trail Blazers Miles Plumlee, C, Pacers Kim English, SG, Pistons Kyle O’Quinn, C, Magic Bernard James, C, Mavericks Austin Rivers, G, Hornets Kendall Marshall, PG, Suns Perry Jones, F, Thunder Mike Scott, PF, Hawks Quincy Acy, SF, Raptors Kris Joseph, SF/SG, Celtics Darius Miller, SF, Hornets Maurice Harkless, F, 76ers Quincy Miller, F, Nuggets Kevin Murphy, SF/SG, Jazz Festus Ezeli, C, Warriors Worst of the Rest Darius Johnson-Odom, SG, Lakers Fab Melo, C, Celtics Khris Middleton, SF, Pistons Draymond Green, F, Warriors Orlando Johnson, SG, Pacers Robert Sacre, C, Lakers Justin Hamilton, C, Heat Marquis Teague, PG, Bulls Tomas Satoransky, G, Wizards

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