By Richard Nurse @blackirishpr on July 23, 2014
There is nothing more misleading than the NBA Summer League. There are no veteran stars, the flux in talent tends to make everyone look good, and a majority of the players who take the court will never actually don an authentic team jersey. However, there were a few prospects who showed that they would shine regardless of the circumstances.
Here are the 10 biggest winners of the 2014 NBA Summer League.
Second-year player Tony Snell was pretty nonexistent when asked to step up for the Chicago Bulls last season, but he used the 2014 Summer League to show that with a new haircut came a new 3-point stroke -- up from 32 percent to 50 on 17-of-34 shooting.
Just being able to get on the court after sitting out a year was huge for Nerlens Noel, but so was his play for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Summer League squad. Between his stay in Orlando and his short stint in Las Vegas, Noel gave fans hope that his ACL injury will not hinder him from being a dominant defensive force. Noel not only averaged three BLKPG, he altered many more.
Much like Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter Jr. spent his rookie season injured and guarding the bench. A consistent 19 PPG and six RPG landed him on the All-NBA Summer League First team, and he was called the Scottie Pippen of the tournament for his ability to handle the ball and start the offense. This could be crucial for the Wizards with the loss of Trevor Ariza and the addition of an aging Paul Pierce.
Doug McDermott proved that he could be more than a spot-up shooter against NBA competition by netting his 18 PPG from everywhere on the court. It only took naysayers four games to realize that the man they call Dougie McBuckets could be one of the main guys to spread the floor for Derrick Rose.
“The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo had his skill set on full display with his athletic dunks, step-back jumpers and quality defense. The 6-foot-10 shooting guard even handled the point for the Milwaukee Bucks this summer. Last season’s rookie surprise is bound to improve on his seven PPG and four RPG after a July of 17 and six, respectively.
It’s hard to name a summer winner without mentioning Jason Kidd, because he is inheriting the most NBA-ready rookie to come out of this year’s draft, Jabari Parker. His potential star power and 16-PPG, eight-RPG production in the Summer League are clear indicators that Milwaukee could be semi-relevant for the first time since 2003.
After scoring 23 PPG, it’ll be hard to say that Tim Hardaway isn’t picking up and thriving in coach Derek Fisher/Phil Jackson’s concept of Tex Winter’s triangle offense. You can jot that down as one of the main reasons why sources are telling ESPN New York’s Ian Begley that the Knicks guard is “virtually untouchable” in all trade talks.
Dwight Howard claiming that Chandler Parsons' departure "won’t affect" Houston should have little to do with him and more to do with the emergence of a more athletic rookie, Nick Johnson, who averaged 13 PPG.
Add an increased role for center Donatas Motiejunas (16 PPG, eight RPG) and little gunner Isaiah Canaan (17 PPG), and the team shouldn’t have a hard time forgetting Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin either.
Wizards fans was pleasantly surprised when Glen Rice Jr. was named Summer League MVP after averaging 25 PPG on 47 percent shooting. Charlotte's P.J. Hairston had an up-and-down shooting month, but managed a steady 18 PPG while New York’s Thanasis Antetokounmpo barely made much of his action. Each guy was drafted directly out of the D-League.
Anthony Bennett’s weight loss has allowed him to show flashes of athleticism and hustle, while Andrew Wiggins put together enough offensive and defensive highlights to give a glimpse of his two-way potential. However, the Cavaliers are the winners because they have been dangling these performances as trade bait for the T-Wolves to bite on a Kevin Love deal.
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