Living the Summer Leagues: RecapAlso see: Vegas: Volume I | Vegas: Volume II | Vegas: Volume III | Vegas: Volume IV | Vegas: Volume V
By NBA TV's Rick Kamla
July 26, 2006 -- The powers that be at NBA.com asked if I would summarize the summer leagues from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Long Beach, and Orlando. Of course, I happily obliged for two reasons.
One, NBA.com helps to keep the strobe lights on at Club Kamla, and that fact can never be underestimated.
Two, I witnessed the Vegas Summer League (VSL) firsthand and saw the Rocky Mountain Revue (RMR) on NBA TV, but I'm a little out of the loop regarding the summer leagues in Long Beach and Orlando. Freaks, being "out of the loop" on anything basketball-related is completely unacceptable. As such, it's time to roll up our sleeves and get caught up on the summer activities of all 30 dudes taken in the first round of the 2006 NBA Draft.
[Editor's note: For a comprehensive top 10 list and killer stats from all four summer leagues, check out Brad Friedman's article on NBA.com. It's the perfect complement to what you're about to read.]
2. LaMarcus Aldridge, Trail Blazers: I called three Blazer games in Vegas, so I feel like I have a good read on Aldridge. The team didn't really feature him until the final game, when he posted 19 points and nine rebounds, so his overall numbers don't tell the whole story. The offensive skills are obviously there, although he has a tendency to fall in love with the jumper, not unlike former-Blazer Rasheed Wallace. Aldridge, who would be a junior at Texas this season, is at least two years away from becoming a double-double guy every night, but he's already a professional shot blocker.
3. Adam Morrison, Bobcats: In Orlando, Morrison averaged 24.6 points in 29.2 minutes, which is awesome. However, he averaged 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.4 blocks, and 0.2 steals, and I'm convinced that's more trend than mirage. Get ready for this one- or two-category player to be overrated in fantasy drafts this fall.
4. Tyrus Thomas, Bulls: Most of us view Thomas in the vein of Shawn Marion, Gerald Wallace, and Andre Igoudala, and his summer league stats definitely have me thinking "future fantasy stud". Thomas averaged 16.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.0 steals in Orlando. My only concern is Chicago's depth at the forward positions, with P.J. Brown, Andres Nocioni, and Luol Deng entrenched at the three and four. If Thomas were a starter on a bad team, he'd probably be my pick for Rookie of the Year (ROY).
5. Shelden Williams, Hawks: The banger from Duke had the game-winning basket in Atlanta's RMR finale, and he flirted with a double-double (10 and 9) in the previous game. That said, Williams did not earn All-Revue honors so he didn't make a huge splash in Salt Lake.
6. Brandon Roy, Trail Blazers: After what I saw in Vegas, two things are blatantly obvious. One, Roy will probably win ROY this year. Two, he may go down as the signature player from this draft. For more on Roy check out the Vegas volumes ...
7. Randy Foye, Timberwolves: Like Roy, I spent a week in Vegas watching and writing about Foye, so peruse the Vegas volumes for hundreds of kind words about this cross between Dwyane Wade and Ben Gordon. Foye is hardcore clutch, just like Wade and Gordon. Plus, he merges Wade's penchant for penetration with Gordon's runners and pull-ups and teardrops to form an offensive machine. Roy and Foye are going to battle for ROY honors, but no matter who wins, the debate over who's better will rage for years ...
8. Rudy Gay, Grizzlies: Jerry West just had to have Gay on draft day, and he got his man (plus Stromile Swift) in exchange for Olympic hopeful Shane Battier. (By the way, Houston got the better of that deal.) Gay was hampered by a groin injury at Long Beach, but he made West breathe a little easier with a 21-10 double-double.
9. Patrick O'Bryant, Warriors: O'Bryant didn't tear up the VSL, but he had his moments, and he displayed an array of low post moves that should be effective at the next level. He can score with the right or left hand, his footwork is right on time, and he blocks shots with ease. O'Bryant was billed as a "project" leading up to the draft, but he's farther along than I thought after just two years at Bradley.
10. Saer Sene, SuperSonics: The Sonics took this human pogo stick from the Senegal to block shots and he averaged a league-high 3.8 swats at the RMR. Yahtzee.
11. J.J. Redick, Magic: The only good news for the injured Redick (back) in an otherwise brutal summer is the fact that DeShawn Stevenson probably won't return to Orlando. That leaves Redick and a host of others to battle for the Magicís starting shooting guard position in October.
12. Hilton Armstrong, Hornets: We all knew Armstrong could block shots and rebound, and that's exactly what he did at the VSL, but he also had a 20-point game that featured a jump shot I never saw in his UCONN days. I don't know if Armstrong is an All-Star-in-the-making, but he'll be gainfully employed in the NBA for the next 15 years.
13. Thabo Sefolosha, Bulls: The Swiss swingman proved that the Bulls were right in trading for him on draft night, as he averaged 16 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.5 steals in two games in Orlando. Thabo looks like he belongs in the NBA, but I don't know where he belongs in Chicago's thick rotation.
14. Ronnie Brewer, Jazz: Other than the freakishly athletic Andrei Kirilenko, Jerry Sloan's squad has needed a more athletic look, especially on the perimeter. Well, after rocking the RMR to the tune of All-Revue, it's obvious that Brewer is exactly what this team needs. Utah's backcourt got a whole lot better this summer with the additions of Derek Fisher and Brewer.
15. Cedric Simmons, Hornets: Simmons is one of the bigger projects from this year's draft, literally and figuratively. Offensively, if it wasn't a follow flush or catch-and-dunk, it wasn't really happening. That said, Simmons is looooong and lively. Patience is the operative word with Simmons, who was drafted after two years at NC State.
16. Rodney Carney, 76ers: Carney was solid for the Sixers in Utah, averaging nearly 17 points per game, but I'd rather have Sefolosha's versatility.
17. Shawne Williams, Pacers: The 6-9 forward outta Memphis was a summer league bust, missing all but one game with a hamstring injury.
18. Olexsiy Pecherov, Wizards: If Bargnani is a poor man's Dirk Nowitzki, then Pecherov is a poor man's Bargnani. He's listed as 6-11 or 7-0 depending on the website, like Bargnani, he can stroke the J, like Bargnani, and he's sneaky tough in the paint, like Bargnani. The Wizards did very well with their pick of Pecherov, who may spend the '06-07 season overseas.
19. Quincy Douby, Kings: If Pecherov is a poor man's Bargnani, then Douby is a poor man's Eddie House ... or the second coming of Salim Stoudamire. Douby can give you liberty or he can give you death.
20. Renaldo Balkman, Knicks: Just like college, the defense and activity was impressive, but the offensive game was limited. The comparisons to Jerome Williams are pretty much on target.
21. Rajon Rondo, Celtics: Watching Rondo load the box score with seemingly every category took me back to the days of Alvin Robertson and Fat Lever, who made five-steal games look routine. Rondo's defensive game is already at the pro level (2.2 steals per game in Vegas) and he even mixed in a game-winning three in Boston's VSL finale. I am so-so-so-so-sold on Rondo.
22. Marcus Williams, Nets: I called Marcus "The Randy Moss of the 2006 NBA Draft" during the draft, and I'm sticking to my story after seeing his averages of 16.6 points, 9.3 assists, and 56 percent from three-point range in Orlando. Forget about the Knicks blowing it with Williams, what about everybody else who passed on him? Freaks, Williams is NICE!!!
23. Josh Boone, Nets: The Nets desperately need a big man who can bang bodies and block shots, and that's exactly what Boone did in Orlando, averaging eight rebounds and two blocks. But then depression set in when an MRI revealed a torn labrum in Boone's shoulder that required surgery. The word is that Boone will need 4-6 months of rehab. In a word: buzzkill.
24. Kyle Lowry, Grizzlies: Lowry acquitted himself nicely in Long Beach. With Damon Stoudamire coming off knee surgery and Bobby Jackson signing with the Hornets, Lowry could earn significant minutes as a rookie.
25. Shannon Brown, Cavaliers: Foye and Roy were the headliners in Vegas, but Brown also dazzled the crowd with vicious and malicious dunks, sticky defense, and the ability to swing between the one and two without a problem. Brown, who is more G than PG or SG, will be in Cleveland's rotation this year. No doubt about it.
26. Jordan Farmar, Lakers: So far so good with Farmar, who was LAL's best player at Long Beach, averaging over 16 points and four assists per game. Lakers' play-by-play man Joel Meyers told me the ankle problems that hindered Farmar last season are fully healed, and the word on the street is that Farmar has jaw-dropping hops. I'm happy for Farmar, but the Lakers still need more help at the point.
27. Sergio Rodriguez, Trail Blazers: The man they call "Spanish Chocolate" did not play for the Blazers' summer league team in Vegas. Neither did Jarrett Jack, who is still rehabbing his surgically repaired ankle. Because of their absences, Roy played a lot of point guard at the VSL, and I came away thinking this cat can play three positions -- not unlike Joe Johnson or Jalen Rose.
28. Maurice Ager, Mavericks: Avery Johnson recently used the word "love" when talking about Ager, and the reigning Coach of the Year went on to say that the Michigan State rookie is likely to be in the rotation this year. How, you wonder? Well, for starters, the dude can crush threes. In averaging 20 ppg at the VSL, Ager drilled 47 percent from deep.
29. Mardy Collins, Knicks: The point guard out of Temple was decent in Vegas, averaging six points and two assists in 19 minutes. Collins appears destined for spots 13-15 on the Knicks' roster this year.
30. Joel Freeland, Trail Blazers: I was unimpressed by the Brit who has exactly one year of professional experience until the Blazers' VSL finale, when Freeland started and showed mega confidence with a flurry of early jumpers. He then went to the bench and re-entered the game a completely different player. I gotta be honest, freaks, the Blazers should have taken P.J. Tucker or Cheick Samb with the last pick of round one.
During the regular season, NBA TV fantasy expert Rick Kamla writes a weekly column, Living the Fantasy, on NBA.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org