Skip to main content

Main content


Summer League Standouts: Day 4 in Las Vegas

POSTED: Jul 12, 2016 11:11 AM ET

By Steve Aschburner

BY Steve Aschburner


The Fast Break: Las Vegas Summer League

Take a quick tour through Monday's Las Vegas Summer League action in the Fast Break.

A look at the top performers from Day 4 in Las Vegas:

Wade Baldwin IV and D.J. Stephens, Memphis Grizzlies

Grizzlies vs. Bucks

DJ Stephens scores 21 points and grabs seven rebounds as the Grizzlies beat the Bucks,85-81.

If the Memphis Grizzlies care to overhaul their image as a plodding, physical, halfcourt team, they could find room and minutes this fall for these guys. Baldwin is a savvy floor leader with "controlled speed," as one NBA insider put it Monday. The No. 17 pick in last month's draft had 13 points and six assists in less than 25 minutes in Memphis' 85-81 victory over Milwaukee. Then there was Stephens, a freakish athlete who played at the University of Memphis and had a cup of coffee with Milwaukee last season (three appearances) while delighting fans in the D-League. Stephens had a handful of dazzling dunks but he also hit a couple 3-pointers and shot 9-of-13 en route to 21 points. He grabbed seven rebounds and, defensively, took another step toward his goal of proving his worth isn't limited to dunks.

Jaron Johnson, D-League Select

Rockets vs. D-League Select

Joel Wright scores a game-high 19 points to lead the D-League Select to victory over the Rockets, 89-71.

An underdog on a team filled with them, Johnson had 17 point and eight rebounds off the bench for the D-Leaguers. The 6-foot-6 forward from Louisiana Tech and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers led a second unit that outscored Houston's reserves 46-20, the key stat in the Rockets' 89-71 defeat. Johnson, a backup at Louisiana Tech, hadn't even attracted much interest from overseas when he got a tryout with the Vipers two seasons ago. He played last summer with the Rockets' squad and went to camp with Washington, but his improvement both as a shooter and in setting up teammates has come through from his opportunities with Rio Grande.

Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors

Raptors vs. Mavericks

Norman Powell leads all scorers with 23 points as the Raptors down the Mavericks 80-69.

Powell keeps scoring and the Raptors keep winning. If he keeps this up, the Vegas Summer League MVP crown could be his, though a meatier role in Toronto's 2016-17 scheme would mean more. With 23 points in his team's victory over Dallas, Powell was the only one on either side to top 14. He has hit 10 of his 19 3-point attempts, continuing a trend from last spring; Powell shot 35 of 75 from the arc after March 1, compared to 1 of 14 prior to that in his rookie season.

Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat

Heat vs. Nuggets

Jamal Murray leads all scorers with 29 points but the Nuggets fall to the Heat 92-81.

McGruder's fortunes has taken a significant turn upwards recently. When veteran Heat guard Dwyane Wade opted to sign with Chicago last week, it opened a spot that went to McGruder in the form of a three-year, partially guaranteed contract. Then the undrafted guard from Kansas State -- three years ago, with various cuts and D-League and Euro stints in between -- scored 23 points in Miami's Vegas victory over Denver. He was the more efficient player compared to Denver's Jamal Murray, the No. 7 pick last month who went volume-shooter (10-for-25) for his 29 points in the absence of Nuggets backcourt mates Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris.

Rafael Putney, Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers vs. Timberwolves

Raphiael Putney scores 19 and Kay Felder adds 15 as the Cavaliers beat the Timberwolves 99-68.

If Bill Russell were playing in 2016, there's a chance he might look like Putney, a long (6-foot-9), lean (185) presence in the paint with a goatee not unlike the legendary Celtics great. OK, we'll stop the comparisons there, but still must note that Putney scored 19 points in not quite 21 minutes off the bench for Cleveland in its 99-68 rout of Minnesota. Putney made seven of his 12 shots, including five of seven 3-pointers, while grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. 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.