2017 Summer League

Ten standouts who made an impression at Orlando Pro Summer League

Fran Blinebury

ORLANDO — Six days, 20 games and so many different stories at the Orlando Pro Summer League. Here are 10 players that made an impression:

Bam Adebayo, F, Miami Heat — A lot of folks snickered and said that legend Pat Riley reached to make Adebayo a lottery pick. But his college coach John Calipari insisted that Adebayo would show more of what he can do and thrive at the NBA level. About the only thing he didn’t do well in Orlando was shoot the ball consistently, but that won’t be his job in Miami. He was fifth in the Orlando Summer League in scoring, tied for second in rebounding, second in blocked shots and defended multiple positions.

Jonathan Isaac, F, Orlando Magic — He’s so slender that the Magic could practically slip him through a crack beneath their front door. But the 19-year-old was alive and active and teased with all of his individual skills before suffering a hip injury and sitting down after 2 1/2 games. He’ll need to put meat and muscle on his frame to withstand nightly beatings in the low post. Yet he doesn’t back down from contact. All the potential is there for him to become something special.

Dakari Johnson, C, Oklahoma City Thunder — A second round pick in 2015, he’s spent the past two seasons toiling for the Thunder’s G League affiliate, trying to make it to the big time. He had another quite solid performance in Florida, outworking most of the pack, scoring and rebounding effectively. Maybe with Domantas Sabonis gone to Indiana in the Paul George deal, the door is cracked open for another big man in OKC.

Luke Kennard, G, Detroit Pistons — Nobody doubted that the No. 12 pick in the Draft could handle the ball, get himself open and find a way to put the ball into the basket. The question that Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had coming into Orlando was if Kennard had the slightest clue on defense. He’s still a project at that end of the floor, but he showed enough solid footwork and concentration to have even the grumpy Van Gundy to admit there’s a chance he’ll play as a rookie. He went out with a bang in the championship game, hitting 9 of 15 shots (3-for-3 on treys) for 24 points.

Luke Kornet, C, New York Knicks — While most on hand were hoping to get a glimpse of first-round draft pick Frank Ntilikina (injured), the undrafted 7-foot-1 center out of Vanderbilt turned some heads by showing a nice touch from behind the 3-point line and an ability to protect the rim. His signing may have been the last official act of Phil Jackson in the NY front office, but it was a good one. Kornet was upgraded to one of the new two-way contracts between the G League and NBA for the 2017-18 season.

T.J. Leaf, F, Indiana Pacers –The 18th pick in the Draft showed that he can knock down the shot to be an effective stretch-four in the NBA. He averaged 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds before a third game in three days caught up and produced a bit of fatigue. If center Myles Turner is the new foundation of the new-look Pacers, then turning things over with this new Leaf should space the floor and provide help.

Henry Ellenson, F/C, Detroit Pistons — The Pistons’ 2016 first-round pick spent most of his rookie season with Grand Rapids in the NBA G League. But the big man showed up in Orlando with a more confident air and a better shooting stroke from the perimeter until coming up empty at 0-for-5 from behind the arc in the championship game. If he can keep knocking down the 3-pointer to spread the floor and also get his share of rebounds, he’s a cheap ($1.78 million) option for a team that is over the cap and looking to shed salaries.

Dwayne Bacon, G/F, Charlotte Hornets — You get the feeling that if the building was on fire, Bacon would just saunter down the hallway and out the front door. He never seems to rush, does not like to hurry. But he can get to his spots on the floor to score and get the job done when he arrives. If confidence could be bottled as a cologne, he’d be wearing it proudly.

Dwight Buycks, G, Dallas Mavericks — The Mavs may have just made Dennis Smith Jr. the No. 9 pick in the Draft and have him tabbed as their point guard of the future, but somebody must have forget to tell this 28-year-old veteran from the Chinese Basketball Association. The 6-foot-3 Buycks ran and ignited the Dallas offense all week. It’s a bit late in the game to start an NBA career, but he kept plugging away.

Canyon Barry, G, New York Knicks — Nobody makes a more lasting impression in the summer — or any other — league than the only player shooting underhand free throws. The youngest son of Rick Barry is carrying on the tradition of his Hall of Fame father by with the unorthodox, but very effective “granny” stroke. Go ahead and laugh. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek did when he saw Barry’s toss from the foul line.  But he shot 88.3 percent from the line last season at the University of Florida.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here, find his archive 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.

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