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Fran Blinebury

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Pistons project Andre Drummond has a word with his new head coach Lawrence Frank.
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Sullinger shows promise; Drummond has work to do


Posted Jul 14 2012 6:53PM

ORLANDO -- There was rumor and innuendo, talk and gossip and more idle speculation than surrounded the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce.

The Dwight Howard Show has been the longest-running circus this side of Ringling Bros., and the only things missing are the calliope music and bearded lady.

Oh, and by the way, they also played some basketball this week at the Air Tran 2012 Orlando Pro Summer League. Here are a few leftover thoughts and observations:

• Officially, the Pistons' Andre Drummond was the only lottery pick from the 2012 draft to hit the court at the Amway Center, but Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III made their cases that they should have been among the elite.

The 6-foot-9 Sullinger shook off an uncomfortable first half in the opener on Monday when he spent too much time trying to fit in and steadily impressed with his offensive skills and ability to use his wide body to create space and get off shots.

The 21st pick by the Celtics, Sullinger has to spend the rest of the summer shedding pounds so that he's in better condition by the start of training camp. He's already slower and shorter than most of the players he'll match up against in the NBA and has to be able to use his instinctive moves around the basket with a bit more quickness. He'll also have to be more judicious with his outside shot.

For all the pre-draft questions that cropped up about a possible bulging disc in his back, Sullinger looked like the player who starred at Ohio State and might have been a top 10 draft pick if he'd left college after his freshman year.

"You've just got to play your game," he said. "You've got to be decisive with your movement.

"I can't think about where I was drafted or what might have been. It's all about going forward now and doing what I can to help the Celtics. If I can do that, it will help me."

Jones, who was happily scooped by the Thunder with the 28th pick, went down with a left ankle injury early in his second game this week. But in the full game he played, Jones showed that he could run the floor, shoot, rebound and even added a few nice passes.

If there's early candidate for "steal of the draft," the Thunder have him in the 6-foot-11 forward.

• You could almost hear the jingle bells ringing in July all week long as Dionte Christmas impressed with his aggressive, hustling play all week long for the Celtics. The 6-foot-5 guard out of Temple, who spent the past three years playing in Israel, Greece and Turkey, probably earned himself an invitation to training camp by never backing off for a minute.

• The No. 9 pick Drummond has plenty of work to do before he gets to the Pistons camp. The big man pulled down nine rebounds against OKC on Wednesday, but grabbed a total of 13 in four other games during the week. The 18 year old from Connecticut who was regarded as a project looked every inch of that as he was often easily pushed around.

• One of the guys who used some muscle to push Drummond around was Kyle O'Quinn, the Magic's second round draft pick (No. 49). O'Quinn spent four years at Norfolk State and obviously is playing with that "overlooked" chip on his shoulder.

"Nine or 49, it doesn't matter to me," O'Quinn said. "You have to come in with (that attitude), you know what kind of swagger those major college guys walk into the gym with. Us Norfolk State guys, we don't have that. Anything we want we've got to take. That's the mentality I've had for the last four years and I've rolled it over into summer league."

• It seemed perfectly natural to see a Jazz team take the floor with point guard wearing the name "Stockton" on the back of his jersey. Of course, this was Hall of Famer John Stockton's 23-year-old son, Michael, who was solid, especially early in the week. He played four seasons at Westminster College (UT) and spent last season with BG Karlsruhe in Germany.

The Utah players who had the best week were Alec Burks, Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans. Burks was the second-leading scorer in the league, averaging 19.5 a game. But as he makes his push to start next season, he still needs to be more aggressive on a consistent basis.

"You want him to have that killer instinct," said Jazz summer league coach Sidney Lowe. "You want him to step on the floor and just feel that I'm the best player on the floor right now, because he's capable of doing so much. But I think over time he'll get there."

• Two of the players the Sixers wanted to get big time in the summer league -- Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic -- were sideline by injuries. Harkless, the first round pick, was shut down after a hip flexor injury flared up and Vucevic did not play at all due to an Achilles' tendon problem.

The Sixers did have their own family affair as Jrue Holiday's older brother Justin, a 6-foot-7 forward, showed some versatility on offense and a nose for playing defense. After four years at the University of Washington, he played last season in Belgium.

• He may 25 years past his prime as a player. He may be retiring as the Pacers' president. But it was interesting to note that in a small practice facility filled with roughly 300 coaches, scouts and members of the media, heads turned every time Larry Bird walked into the gym.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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