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Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon and a few other lottery picks didn't live up to the hype in Orlando and Las Vegas.

Lottery picks struggle during Summer League

By Scott Howard-Cooper
Posted Jul 20, 2014 1:41 AM

LAS VEGAS -- In a summer that will be remembered for what did happen to impact rookies -- LeBron James going to Cleveland, Nikola Mirotic finally making the move to Chicago, Pau Gasol leaving Los Angeles for Chicago and Carlos Boozer being asked to leave Chicago passing Gasol in the night to arrive in L.A. -- the Orlando and Las Vegas showcases will be noteworthy for what didn't happen.

The 2014 lottery picks mostly didn't show. Not officially, of course. They were present. They just weren't a presence.

Joel Embiid (injured) and Dario Saric (returning to Europe) have explanations, and Doug McDermott and T.J. Warren are off the hook because of good play while Elfrid Payton and Jabari Parker had a series of good moments. But many among the top 14 selections from June 26 were conspicuously absent among conversations of the best rookies as summer league is down to the semifinals of the Las Vegas portion Sunday and the championship game on Monday night.

No. 1 - Andrew Wiggins, Cavaliers -- Shot 37.8 percent and averaged 13.7 points per game in three games.

No. 2 - Jabari Parker, Bucks -- Averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds, solid play that included two doible-doubles and another game of 17 and nine.

No. 3 - Joel Embiid, 76ers -- Hurt.

No. 4 - Aaron Gordon, Magic -- He'd better score a lot in transition because defenses are going to back way off and beg him to shoot anywhere beyond five feet after Gordon continued his college storyline by finishing Orlando at 35 percent from the field and 47.8 from the line.

No. 5 - Dante Exum, Jazz -- Getting minutes (26.1) was the key for a player who needs experience. But he also shot just 35.5 percent and had as many turnovers as assists.

No. 6 - Marcus Smart, Celtics -- Scored at least 14 points in three of five games while playing 29.2 minutes and was not sloppy with the ball, an important update amid questions of whether he can be a distributor in the NBA. But that 29.4 percent shooting from the field is troublesome.

No. 7 - Julius Randle, Lakers -- He signed on Sunday and played the same day without benefit of five-on-five work for conditioning. It showed. Randle powered around inside, but still finished at 41.9 percent shooting and never grabbed more than six rebounds.

No. 8 - Nik Stauskas, Kings -- He has shot well (50 percent overall, 63.6 percent on threes), just without getting many attempts and averaging 12 points.

No. 9 - Noah Vonleh, Hornets -- The 11.8 rebounds per game is great production ... and especially valuable for someone shooting 31.4 percent.

No. 10 - Elfrid Payton, Magic -- Did a good job of directing traffic with the ball in his hands a lot in games at his future practice facility in Orlando.

No. 11 - Doug McDermott, Bulls -- Did not disappoint as a shooter, but with the reminder that he can score from a lot of spots on the floor, not just standing near the three-point line.

No. 12 - Dario Saric, 76ers -- Unavailable. For a long time.

No. 13 - Zach LaVine, Timberwolves --The leading scorer for Minnesota at 15.6 points a game, but while shooting 40.3 percent and totaling more turnovers (20) than assists (13).

No. 14 - T.J. Warren, Suns -- One of the best players in Las Vegas. One of the best players in either location actually.

That's not exactly an honor roll heading into the final two days, albeit abbreviated days, of competition. The star power in the top half of the lottery that drove interest in the draft, after the drop a year ago with that poor rookie class, led to a better atmosphere at the two UNLV gyms. But it was the other first-year players that mostly produced the best results.

Which brings us to the rookies who played at the highest level.

Rookie Ladder

1. NERLENS NOEL, 76ers (previous ranking: 1)

Noel made just one appearance in Las Vegas and instead mostly rested the left knee coming off surgery. But between here and Orlando, he controlled the paint by blocking shots and forcing penetrators to change plans on others, and rebounded.

2. JARNELL STOKES, Grizzlies (2)

The second-round pick, No. 35 overall, finished Orlando averaging nine rebounds a game in 26 minutes, without ever playing more than 30 minutes. Though struggling with his shot at times, Stokes still scored 10, 16, 11 and 12 points in the limited time.

3. T.J. WARREN, Suns (3)

Warren finished with a rare bad game Friday, scoring nine points while making just three of 11 field goals and even three of seven free throws. But that was after 80 points in 92 minutes.

4. DOUG McDERMOTT, Bulls (4)

It wasn't exactly a big finish, missing seven of 10 shots en route to 11 points Thursday and then sitting Saturday in Chicago's final game. Before that, though, McDermott had 31 points in 27 minutes against the Nuggets and 20 points in 26 minutes against the Timberwolves, with the Minnesota game also including six assists and five rebounds.

5. JAMES ENNIS, Heat (5)

A strained groin sidelined Ennis the final four games and most of a fifth. But by the time Miami's summer-league schedule ended Friday, after playing in Orlando and Vegas, Ennis had scored at least 17 points in four of five full games, while also contributing 5.5 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game.

6. JORDAN ADAMS, Grizzlies (6)

Adams left Orlando on a bad note, by making just five of 13 shots and scoring 11 points against the 76ers, but that was after scoring at least 19 points in three of the four previous games. The Grizzlies did not come to Las Vegas.

7. JORDAN McRAE, 76ers (7)

He did not play Friday in the Sixers finale -- rest, the team said before heading off for months of rest -- but had a late charge up the rankings by averaging 21 points and shooting 50 percent in four games. Those 21 points were while playing 29.1 minutes per.

8. ELFRID PAYTON, Magic (8)

While the 1.75-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is a bad number for a point guard, Payton did a lot of other things well in Orlando. He shot 59.3 percent, added 5.2 rebounds per game from the backcourt in five games, and showed signs of the potential on defense.

9. JABARI PARKER, Bucks (9)

Twenty points and 15 rebounds against the Warriors in Milwaukee's finale was the way to go out, and the way to reclaim a Ladder spot after opening at No. 1 and tumbling all the way out. He averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds in all.

10. RUSS SMITH, Pelicans (10)

Twenty-one points on Friday after 19, 14, six and 20 is a loud opening statement from the No. 47 pick drafted by Philadelphia and quickly traded to New Orleans. Smith also had at least eight assists twice and shot the ball well except for one game.

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