The Daily Deal: July 18
Each day, NBADLeague.com will be in Las Vegas to cover all of the Summer League action, focusing on the top NBA D-League alums that are trying to make an impact on their respective teams in order to earn a spot on an NBA roster.
Now's about the time when the murmurs start. Around the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion area, you hear NBA and the names 'Thomas' and 'Ubiles' and 'Benson' and 'Smith' (with a potential whispered 'Jerry' added-in for clarity) start to come up in conversation. It's been a good week for NBA D-League Top Prospects looking to blow up on scouts' radar against NBA competition. But perhaps nobody's done so quite as well as former Canton Charge guard Josh Akognon.
1. JOSH AKOGNON -- GUARD -- SACRAMENTO KINGS
Akognon didn't play at all on Monday, as the Kings gave some other players some looks. After seeing him play twice prior, though, there's a good chance it's because they'd seen all they needed to see. With 18 points in 18 minutes on Tuesday, he now has 58 points in 55 minutes and heads into the Kings' 6:30 p.m. ET game with the Celtics as one of the loudest names from this Summer League. Even on an off day (3-for-8 from the field) shooting, he found a way to get to the line, where he converted 12 of 13 free throws. And any point guard who can draw that kind of attention -- and collision -- in the lane makes sure that the same doesn't happen to his teammates waiting on the wings.
2. MALCOLM THOMAS -- FORWARD -- CHICAGO BULLS
For the second straight night, Thomas went for 10 and 13. And there's not much to indicate that if he were playing right around the same amount of minutes a night, he wouldn't be able to pick up a couple double-doubles a week, either. He struggled on the offensive end -- it's the part of his game that needs the most work -- on Tuesday, failing to finish near the rim a few times, but he keeps possessions alive as well as any player currently in Las Vegas.
3. KEITH BENSON -- CENTER -- ATLANTA HAWKS
Keith Benson is ready. Against two of the better post players in Vegas -- Dallas' Jae Crowder and Bernard James -- the Hawks' center more than held his own, scoring eight points with six rebounds and four blocked shots. Benson wanted to convince scouts that he could put together a string of consistent games against top-flight talent and, thus far, he has.
With 7:15 and four former NBA D-League players on the court for the Spurs, L.D. Williams had the ball on the left wing, right around the 3-point line.
He spotted Eric Dawson curling to the middle and found him perfectly above the rim, as Dawson finished the alley-oop with a drop-in.
It was a moment that spoke to how much both players have evolved. Williams, the 2012 NBA D-League Slam Dunk champ, has always been known as a guy who can finish at the rim but forced the play instead of letting it develop. Dawson's been a capable rebounder, but never really had a nose for the basket.
Here, there evolutions converged. And it was sweet.
Golden State 65, Miami 62: Points were at a premium in today's finale. I guess Summer League -- as all the players are saying -- can be about defense.
Despite the lack of offensive firepower -- the teams shot a woeful 31.5 percent (37-118) combined -- the game did have its own ebbs and flows with 10 lead changes, which provided excitement for the fans that stuck around Thomas & Mack Arena. Fans who apparently like to see players fight for rebounds.
Prospect-wise, Miami's Trey Gilder showed himself well scoring five points and grabbing seven rebounds in 14:29 of game play. As was customary with this game, however, he was 0-for-4 from the floor.
"You see guys coming up, like Gerald Green this year, coming up from the D-League. He had huge games for the Nets and now he's a starter. You have guys consistently coming through the D-League and that just shows you that anybody can be in this league -- you just gotta go out there and work hard." - New Orleans Hornets rookie guard Austin Rivers, talking about his teammate Lance Thomas and the path through the NBA D-League
MUST WATCH VIDEO
Mardy Collins talks about the best way to lose 20 pounds in two months.
WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Almost ____________________________. (Jarrid Famous, Milwaukee Bucks forward | Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)
ON THE HORIZON
1) The NBA D-League Select Team is back in action after a two-day hiatus when they take on 2011-12 NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year Stefhon Hannah and the Milwaukee Bucks at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
2) Backup point guards Jamar Smith (Boston) and Josh Akognon (Sacramento), both thriving in Vegas, will likely match up against each other when the Celtics face the Kings at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
3) Atlanta's Keith Benson and Brad Wanamaker have made Summer League their personal showcase. Tomorrow will be the last time they, and the eight other players with NBA D-League experience on the Hawks, take the floor in Vegas. Atlanta plays Portland at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.