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5 Things That Stood Out from Summer League
July 22, 2014
Summer League provided a glimpse into the personal progress and potential of talented Suns youngsters, including Miles Plumlee, Archie Goodwin and rookies Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren.
Phoenix also benefitted from the play of young free agents looking for a home this offseason.
We sifted through everything from Vegas and came away with five things that are worth noting from the Suns’ week-long stay in Summer League.
T.J. Warren Can Score in the NBA
We’re not saying Warren will average 20 points per game his rookie season. Head Coach Jeff Hornacek has already stated that last year’s “nothing is guaranteed” policy will again be reinforced heading into October.
Warren will merit a serious look for rotation minutes, however, if Phoenix’s staff believes his Summer League stats (17.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 54.4 FG%) can at least partially carry over to the regular season.
Those numbers are somewhat skewed out of Warren’s favor. The 14th overall pick only played in seven minutes of his second game due to an errant elbow to the face. Take out that game, and his scoring average jumps to 21.3.
His buckets came as advertised when the Suns drafted him: uniquely unguardable. He only attempted four three-pointers total, relying on a short-to-midrange game because it was working too effectively to change it.
Yes, Warren will have to adjust when regular NBA competition is gearing to stop him. But you can say that about every other rookie and, frankly, Warren was better than nearly all of them in Vegas.
Plumlee A Better Defensive Anchor
As the only player somewhat certain of his role in the upcoming season, Plumlee was planning on exerting his experience and NBA-tested physicality at Summer League.
He certainly did that on the boards (11.0 rpg) and defensively (2.0 bpg, 1.3 spg). His rotations were solid and his shot-blocking was even more fundamentally sound, as Jabari Parker found out. He was further rewarded this week by being named to the USA Basketball Select Team, which will provide the Senior National Team some stiff practice competition before the FIBA World Cup in August.
Plumlee had hoped to show an improved arsenal on offense, and he certainly got his touches (over nine shot attempts per contest). He hit just over 35 percent of his shots, however, a four-game impression he’ll be aiming to erase by the time training camp arrives.
Goodwin Still Aggressive
The second-year guard was second to Warren on the team in total shot attempts and scoring (12.8 ppg), and like his rookie teammate, most of them came inside the arc.
Goodwin did his usual damage at the rim, but he also showed a concerted effort to take advantage of space when his defender backed off in anticipation of him slashing to the rim. Floaters, pull-ups and push-shots were all new tools he attempted to incorporate in live game play. Success came and went (36.4 FG%), but he made up for missed field goals with made free throws. Goodwin led the team in attempts from the stripe (29) and showed a markedly improved stroke from there (79.3 percent).
Defensively, Goodwin was a pest, especially from the weak side. He’d often wait for a ball-handler or high-post big man to reach the elbow area, dart in and poke the ball loose when the opponent was looking the other way. It’s a trick that made Tim Duncan look foolish last season, and one that could potentially become a per-game trend if he can land significant playing time next season.
Christmas More Versatile
In the past, Dionte Christmas’ Summer League production lived and died with his three-point shot.
That changed dramatically in 2014. The 6-5 guard only had one good shooting game (against Philadelphia), but he was the Suns’ third-best rebounder (5.6 rpg) and go-to defender. Christmas guarded four different positions during his latest Vegas stay, using his combination of speed, strength and relentless activity to keep opponents uncomfortable.
Even without three-point shot falling, Christmas tied Elias Harris for third-best on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg) and was third in minutes behind much-needed big men Miles Plumlee and Elias Harris.
Seth Curry Is Definitely a Curry
One of the unwritten NBA laws needs to be this: if a dude’s last name is Curry, don’t leave him open.
Seth made opponents pay often for breaking that rule, to the tune of 40 percent shooting from downtown. His offense comes in microwave form. When he gets hot, it happens fast and in a hurry. Curry scored 15 of his 26 points against the Bucks in the fourth quarter, and consistently provided an outside spark to Phoenix’s offense.
Remember, Summer League is about catching the league’s attention in general, not just that of the team you play for. Chances are Curry’s play garnered plenty of looks.