As if the 110-plus degree temperatures aren’t enough, things are about to really heat up in Las Vegas. After a year hiatus, the NBA Summer League returns, with the Warriors set to tip off against the Lakers today at 5 p.m.
The five-game slate is the first chance for Warrior fans to check out 2012 draft picks Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green as well as gauge the progress of last year’s rookies Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler, Charles Jenkins and Chris Wright, in addition to nine other NBA hopefuls. Check out our previous entry for a complete breakdown of the Warriors' Summer League roster
The Warriors have high hopes for the upcoming 2012-13 season, but the expectations might be even higher in Vegas. Unlike the millions of visitors who flock to Sin City each year, the Warriors often leave town as winners, having compiled a 14-6 record dating back to 2007. All-time, the Warriors hold a 17-13 mark in Vegas (from 2005-10) after just a 9-16 record as participants in the Summer Pro League in Long Beach from 2001-04. The Warriors also went 3-1 in the 2008 Rocky Mountain Review in Salt Lake City, putting their all-time Summer League record just below .500 at 29-30.
Along the way, several Warriors have put together some memorable individual performances, and since the Warriors have seven players who were either drafted by the club or spent time with them last season, we’ve put together a list of the top seven all-time Warriors Summer League performances:
1. Anthony Morrow scores a record-setting 47 points
July 16, 2009 vs. New Orleans
Anthony Morrow shot 18-for-26 from the field in his record-setting Summer League performance. (NBAE/Getty Images)
With Anthony Randolph—whose performance in the Warriors’ previous game earns him the next spot on our list—sidelined in the summer finale due to a wrist injury, Morrow made up for his absence by netting the single-greatest scoring output in Vegas Summer League history. The sharp-shooter tallied 47 points on 18-of-26 shooting, hitting 7-of-9 from downtown en route to a 20-point Dubs victory over the Hornets. Morrow even added a game-high tying seven rebounds in Golden State’s wire-to-wire victory, helping the club end the summer on a four-game win streak.
Morrow, who missed the first two games with a sprained left ankle, finished the Summer League averaging 24.7 points, while he and Randolph both converted on .609 of their shots.
After two solid seasons with the Warriors, the former undrafted free agent signed with the Nets in 2010 and continues to rank among the best three-point shooters in the game.
2. Anthony Randolph caps dominant preseason with temporarily record-tying game
July 14, 2009 vs. Chicago
Anthony Randolph held the NBA Summer League record for most points scored in one game for all of two days. (NBAE/Getty Images)
Before Morrow’s 47-point scoring barrage, Randolph held a share of the Vegas Summer League scoring record for all of two days after a 42-point effort in a win over Chicago, becoming just the third player to score 40-plus in Vegas (joining Denver’s Von Wafer and Phoenix’s Marcus Banks, who both did so in 2007). Unlike Morrow—who hit seven three-pointers two days later—Randolph never even attempted a three, doing nearly a third of his damage from the free throw line. The second-year forward went 16-of-21 from the stripe (compared to Morrow, who was just 4-of-4) and hit 13-of-22 from the field in 34 minutes of work in what ended up as the last performance of his exceptional Vegas campaign.
Prior to the 42-point game heard ‘round the Cox Pavilion, Randolph tallied three-consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound games and ended the summer as Vegas’ leading scorer (26.8 points). He sat out the Warriors’ last game with a sprained left wrist, but we think he might have fought through it had he known about Morrow’s plans to erase his place in the Summer League record books.
Randolph spent the next year in Golden State before being sent to the New York Knicks along with Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf in a sign-and-trade for starting power forward David Lee. The 14th overall pick in 2008 spent the last two seasons with the Timberwolves.
3. Diogu gives Warriors 37 reasons to like Ike
July 15, 2005 vs. Phoenix
Ike Diogu shot 11-of-13 on free throws during his 37-point, 12-rebound performance in Las Vegas. (NBAE/Getty Images)
The Warriors’ move to the Las Vegas Summer League in 2005 did not get off to a great start, as the team lost its first four exhibition games in Nevada. With one more chance to get the Warriors off the schneid, the ninth overall pick of the draft played like just that. Diogu lifted the Warriors—who had lost the previous four games by a combined 57 points—to a 26-point win over the Suns, hitting 13-of-15 from the field and 11-of-13 from the free throw line en route to a 37-point, 12-rebound outing. His performance at the foul line doubled his free throw output from the previous four games, both made and attempted.
Diogu had a little help against the Suns from the 40th overall pick in that year’s draft, Monta Ellis, who scored 15 points while dishing out eight assists, an impressive number considering there have only been 16 double-digit assist performances in Vegas Summer League history. The Warriors’ first-round draft pick finished the summer with team highs of 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds, shooting .593 from the field and .846 from the stripe.
Diogu spent the next year-and-a-half in Golden State before he was packaged to Indiana as part of the mid-season trade in 2006-07 that brought Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to Golden State, propelling an improbable postseason run by the Warriors that saw them become the first eight-seed in NBA history to knock off a one-seed in a best-of-seven playoff series. Diogu appeared in two games for San Antonio last season.
4. Marco Belinelli’s big debut
July 7, 2007 vs. New Orleans
Less than 48 hours removed from a 20-hour Italy-to-Las-Vegas journey, Marco Belinelli made quite a debut with 37 points in 40 minutes. (NBAE/Getty Images)
Of the top seven scoring performances in Las Vegas Summer League history, four belong to Warriors. But the most points in a Summer League debut? That belongs solely to Marco Belinelli. The 18th overall pick in the 2007 Draft, Belinelli wasted no time demonstrating his ability as a shooter, pouring in 37 points in the Warriors’ summer opener against the Hornets.
The Italian swingman made the most of his first game in Warriors gear, playing all 40 minutes and hitting 14-of-20 from the field, including 5-of-7 from downtown. Behind 22.8 points in four games from Belinelli, the Warriors earned a winning record in Vegas (3-2) for the first time in three tries, and haven’t had a losing summer since. Even more impressive, he did it with just one Warriors Summer League practice under his belt, as he completed a 20-hour transcontinental journey to Las Vegas less than 48 hours before the game tipped off.
Belinelli spent two seasons in Golden State before being traded to Toronto and spent the past two seasons with New Orleans—a teammate of newly-acquired Warriors guard Jarrett Jack.
5. Mike Dunleavy nearly nets a triple-double
July 17, 2003 vs. Dallas
Mike Dunleavy parlayed his success in the 2003 Summer League into a starting role with the Warriors in the following season. (NBAE/Getty Images)
As rare as triple-doubles are in the NBA, they’re even rarer in the Summer League, which is why Dunleavy gets credit for almost accomplishing the feat. With 21 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists (as well as three steals), Dunleavy’s performance marks one of the best all-around games in Warriors Summer League annals.
Despite his efforts, Golden State lost the 2003 summer finale and finished with a dismal 1-6 record in Long Beach. The second-year pro provided a bright spot, however, with averages of 23.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in six games.
Dunleavy started for the Warriors in the following season, nearly doubling his playing time from his rookie campaign (from 15.9 minutes to 31.1) and improving his scoring output from 5.7 points on .403 shooting to 11.7 points on .449 from the field.
After four-and-a-half years with the Warriors, he was sent to Indiana along with Ike Diogu, Troy Murphy and Keith McLeod in the aforementioned trade that brought Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to the Bay Area. The Duke alum currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.
6. Stephen Curry leads a Comeback
July 11, 2009 vs. Sacramento
Stephen Curry scored 27 second-half points as the Warriors posted a comeback victory over the Kings in the 2009 NBA SUmmer League. (NBAE/Getty Images)
After hitting just 4-of-14 from the field in his debut the day before, Stephen Curry had to be disappointed when his team was down by as many as 12 in the first half and he had just two points toward the cause. But the seventh overall pick didn’t let that disappointment creep into the second half. Curry finished the contest with 29 points and led the Warriors to a comeback overtime win over eventual Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and the Kings, scoring six points in the two-minute overtime, including four in the last 11 seconds—a layup and a pair of free throws to secure the 98-95 win. Curry took a back seat in the 2009 Summer League to the 40-point heroics of Randolph and Morrow, but his 29-point effort in the gritty win was all the Warriors needed to see.
In three years with Golden State, Curry has averaged 17.5 points, 5.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds and is already one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history, a career .441 shooter from long range. After missing 40 games due to ankle issues last season, Curry is rehabbing this summer with plans to be ready by training camp.
7. Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy, Gilbert Arenas and the Warriors introduced to summer ball
July 10, 2001 vs. Memphis
The 2001 Summer League saw the Warriors debuts of Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy and Gilbert Arenas. (NBAE/Getty Images)
You always remember your first—or, at least, the first that we can officially account for—and for the Warriors, there was plenty to remember about the first game of the first Summer League on record. For starters, Golden State lost to the Memphis Grizzlies—branded as such for the first time after the team’s move from Vancouver—in overtime, one of just two Warriors Summer League games to go to OT (in case you skipped our No. 6 performance, see above for the other overtime thriller).
It was the first professional game for the 2001 draft class that included Jason Richardson (5th overall), Troy Murphy (14th) and Gilbert Arenas (30th), and all three made the most of it. Richardson tallied 27 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, one of four 20-point games in the ’01 summer that previewed a promising career ahead. Murphy led all scorers with 28 points to go with nine rebounds and the duo of Richardson (21.0 points) and Murphy (19.3) went on to combine for 40.3 of the Warriors’ 102.7 points that summer. Meanwhile, Arenas (eight steals) and Mario Bennett (16 rebounds), already an NBA veteran, set watermarks that have since never been topped by any Warrior in Summer League play. The Warriors talented inaugural squad earned a 4-2 record in 2001, their only winning summer until 2007.
Richardson and Murphy enjoyed long careers with the Warriors and spent last season with the Magic and Lakers, respectively. After two years with the Warriors, Arenas became a three-time All-NBA player with the Wizards and, coming full circle from his unofficial NBA debut, spent last season with Memphis.
Reggie Williams’ 34 points on July 11, 2010 vs. Washington; Andris Biedrins’ 17-point, 12-rebound, six-steal game on July 13, 2004 vs. the NBA Stars; Troy Murphy’s 30 points on 11-of-12 shooting on July 14, 2002 vs. the Clippers; Jason Richardson’s 31 points on 10-of-12 shooting on July 13, 2002; Mario Bennett’s 22-point, 15-rebound game on July 13, 2001 vs. Houston.