Well it's been a fun few days in Orlando(Even though i've been no where near there) and with the games in Orlando finishing up today It's time to kick everybody out of the Magic's practice court and put them on a plane to Vegas. With all this being said I thought I'd give you guys a quick summary of who looked good, who looked bad and who looked just god damm fugly this week and what to look for over the next 10 days in Vegas.
Victor Oladipo shines in Orlando.
It's been an interesting week for the second overall pick Victor Oladipo. When I first found out about him starting at the point guard position for the Magic I was against it at first as my thought process was ''Jameer Nelson can't be THAT bad''. However as the week has worn on i've grown to see what Orlando may be thinking by putting him at the point. Through his 4 games in Orlando he averaged 18 points a game along with 4.2 RPG and a 5.0 APG and most impressive of all a 3.0 SPG. He played well, he was hugely aggressive on offense especially when it came to attacking the basket a point made very clear by his 10 FTA's a game. However Oladipo struggled when it came to some of the nuances of running an offense.
Orlando at times looked stagnant and never seemed to hit any sort of offensive flow. A point illustrated by their constant attempts to utilize the pick and roll to allow Oladipo to attack the rim. Oladipo's ball handling skills should not be a concern however as he is more than capable to take his man off the dribble and get a high percentage shot off. His jumpshot is what really needs the work. While he was able to get to the basket and make some 3 pointers he struggled mightly with his mid range game in particular. A fact shown in his 37.5 FG%. But the stat that really concerns me regarding the notion the Oladipo at the point is his 4.8 Turnovers per game. This wasn't the first time his ability to turn the ball over had reared it's head as it was one of the key elements many people reckoned he had to improve on in the NBA. The good news for Oladipo is that he's uber athletic and a fiend on the perimeter. He is super fun to watch fly up and down the court( he reminds me a bit of Russell Westbrook, something which i'll get into later). But Oladipo is just a defensive stopper with no equal. He has phenomenally quick hands, always keeps his man infront of him and always forces his man to work a little bit harder to get a bucket. While this was a solid introduction to the NBA for Victor he still has quite a few things to work on over the rest of the summer.
What I cannot deny is this kid is phenomenally talented. Currently i'm stuck between Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook for what his upside really is. If he stays at point it's Westbrook if not then I think he compares favourably to Wade. Let me explain why I think this. Westbrook just like Oladipo came out of college a defensive stud who had never fully played the Point guard position. He was turnover prone and his jumper still required a ton of work but just like Oladipo he was and still is an athletic freak.
Burke stumbles at first hurdle.
When I first started watching tape on Trey Burke a few months ago I was hugely impressed with his play. Fantastic poise, great control, had all the skills a point guard should have. He looked to me like the next great NBA point guard. My excitement increased when I saw that he would be starting straight away for the Utah Jazz where he could become a leader to a young and upcoming team. However after watching his performances in Orlando i'm a little bit more tentative in my praise for Burke. I still believe he's a great point guard but his game needs to adjust and improve if he wants to be really great. Burke struggled mightly over the week's games shooting a horrific 24% FG with a even worse 3FG% of just .5 . Watching Burke however really makes you quesy especially considering he was not seen as an elite player due to his size and athleticism. Just a few minutes into any game you can find instances where Burke is just outsized by a bigger or more athletic competitor. It's a point particularly emphasised by his poor ability to finish at the rim, something which quite a few NBA scouts said he would struggle to do at the NBA level. And boy were they right. Burke is fantastic at dribble penetration it's always been one of his strengths however his finishing on the second level is what has always caused concern and it's something he really struggled with it. Even when his shot wasn't getting blocked he was struggling to get it off against his bigger NBA foes.
However what killed Burke all week was his jumpshot being ice cold. Burke is at his most dangerous when he's coming off the pick and roll and able to dictate the play. This was a huge strength of his at Ann Arbor. He would have Mitch McGary set a pick at the top of the 3 and he would come off it and depending on if he defender was sagging off or not always make the right decision. In Orlando he was forcing the issue. He'd come off the screen and not be able to make a pass because the defense were sitting back which basically forced Burke to go after jumpers the entire week. This is what really killed him. It's incredibly worrying too because he didn't make a concerted effort to adjust his game to what the defensive was giving him. He continually went back the well by trying to attack the paint and almost everytime he would come up empty.
I make a point of trying to not read too heavily into Summer League play but instead use it as a guideline for what a player has to improve on and what his strengths may be. But after what I saw from Burke this week I can't help but be a little cautious about him going forward. He needs to develop his jumper to the point of it being as dangerous as possible. It's the only way he'll be able to create space for himself going forward is if he starts to make defenders and teams fear his jumpshot.
Shot makers or Shot takers:
Catchy title eh? But this is something i've started to think about much more especially in regards to SG's and I wanted to apply it to some of the SG's that were playing in Orlando this year. In particular I looked at 3 SG's. Jeremy Lamb, Orlando Johnson and Kentavious Caldwell Pope. Basically the idea is are these guys just high percentage shot takers or high percentage shot takers. Let's start off with Jeremy Lamb. Lamb averaged 18.8 PPG while shooting 39 from the field and 27 from the 3 point line. Watching Lamb play is just so frustrating. This guy should be spectacular but instead all he does is jack up ill advised shots. He's not a bad player by any means. He's a fantastic shooter and has a great handle to go with that also but he just does some stupid/lazy things at time. Instead of moving the ball around he'll jack up a long range 3 instead. It's like watching a Monta Ellis/Nate Robinson hybrid trapped in the body of a 6ft 5inch guy. He is clearly a shot taker and shot takers can only exist if they are the best player on that team(Kobe Bryant for example). But the problem is that Lamb plays for a team called the Oklahoma City Thunder who if you don't know have two guys by the name of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Those two are kinda good. Lamb deserves a place on a NBA roster. He's talented enough to be their. Just not sure if he'll stay thought.
Moving onto Orlando Johnson who was part of a very impressive Pacer group that travelled to Orlando. Johnson had arrived at last years Summer league and been un-impressive. He struggled to shoot the ball and get to the basket and in general looked like he was getting a rough first taste of NBA action. However this year he came back and looked much better. He had put on extra muscle which he was using fully to attack the rim and cause chaos. He averaged roughly 5.8 FTA during the week, a number which was drastically lower last year. Not only that but his jump shot had come on quite a bit also which was extremely important for the development of his game. But the thing I like the most about Orlando Johnson is the fact he knows when to drive and when to shoot unlike some other players we have mentioned who just jack up shots like it's going out of fashion. I really like Johnson with this Pacer team(which by the way just keeps getting better). He'll be able to come off the bench and provide them with some offense without sacrificing their wing defense.
Speaking of Orlando Johnson the last of our group reminded me a lot of Orlando Johnson when he first came into the league. He looked tentative and out of his depth at times and it showed all through the week. He shot 37% FG with a 27% 3FG and 13.8 PPG. You know there's that one guy that goes WAY too high in the draft? I think KCP is that guy. He's a talented scorer for sure but i'm not sure what his ceiling is. He's a decent defensive wing who can come up with his fair share of steal but offensively he's questionable. He struggled all week with his jumper which he relied on far too much. He showed little to no variety in his game. He's not a good enough shooter to be a knockdown 3 guy and he's not confident in his ability to take guys off the dribble. I really am stumped with what this guy is.
A quick editorial note on Kelly Olynyk.
As I wrote earlier in the week about Olynyk being the new version of Bargnani or a variation of Bargnani. I would like to publically apologise to Kelly for this horrific insult and to Andrea for this lofty compliment. After a week where I could watch Olynyk further I began to realise my first evaluation had been a little silly on my part. Olynyk is a weird beast to judge. On one count he's a terrific jumpshooter that stretches the floor but at the same time he's also a 7ft big man that competes in the paint for rebounds and second chance opportunities. Not only that but he's got lighting quick hands that he uses so well to come up with steals. He shot 57% from the field with a 23% 3FG rating to go along with his 7.8 rebounds and 18.8 points for the week. Olynyk is a weird hybrid of a player who plays inside but who's game is better suited to outisde the paint area.
Orlando Summer League Summary notes:
- The Indiana Pacers fielded one of the strongests teams at the Summer league. I've already talked about Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson but there were two other players who caught my eye also. Solomon Hil and Donald Sloan were two fantastic players who played well all week. Hill was one of the sneaky good players of the Orlando league shooting 0.489/0.556/0.750 with a 12.0 PPG. Not only that but Hill served as a fantastic stopper against 1's, 2's and 3's. Sloan is an absolute tank of a PG. The ex-boxer was extremely impressive running the Pacers offense and reminded me a bit of Lance Stephenson with his crazy style of aggressive rim attacker who also doubled as a willing and able passer.
- Peyton Siva, Dwight Buycks and Phil Pressey all performed extremely well throughout the week. Buycks snagged a multi year deal with Toronto only days after posting a 14pt 13 assist game for the OKC Thunder. Siva was one of the main reasons Detorit's packed front court looked so good all week. His week was highlighted by a 9pt, 9 assist and 7 steal game. Pressey was highly impressive all week showing off his skills in both scoring and passing which he showed extensively during the final two games where he had back to back 10 assist games.
- OKC Thunder are secretley stacked full of young talent. Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, Two 7ft with a fair amount of upside and ability in Daniel Orton and Steven Adams and two extremely hard working and talented wingmen in Andre Roberson and DeAndre Liggins. Even if they don't keep these guys they are absolutely armed to the teeth with trade bait.
- Andre Drummond is this years winner of the Reggie Jackson I'm Too Good for Summer League Award(Patent Pending). With a 15.5 PPG a 14.8 RPG and a 2.5 SPG not to mention the 2.0 BPG can you really blame me for picking this guy? He broke the Orlando Summer League record for rebounds with his huge 23 point and 18 rebound game.
Who to watch Vegas Summer League:
While Vegas might not be as intersting to me as Orlando( I dunno why I just enjoy Orlando more. Maybe it's becaus of the uncluttered schedules in Vegas) it should still be a good tool to check out some prospects and see how good they can be. Something I always like to bear in mind when watching these guys is screw the point totals, pay closer attention to assist and rebound and other stat totals. They give a far better indication of what a players mindset is but how he plays. Take Dwight Buycks for example. He was a pass first point guard that worried about get his team mates their's before he got his. Do the small stuff well and you'll be in a better position than the guy that jacks up 20 shots and only scores 16. With this in mind let's take a look at some guys to watch over the next few days.
- John Henson, F-C, Milwaukee Bucks: Should be criminal how much I like this guy. Think Anthony Davis without the hype.
- Jeffery Taylor, SF, Charlotte Bobcats: Under rated but really talented. Does it all offensively and more than capable wing defender.
- Cody Zeller, F-C, Charlotte Bobcats: Highly skilled big men make me happy. Really interested to see how he plays in the post and how well he defends.
- Dennis Schroeder, G, Atlanta Hawks: Interesting guard from Germany who's drawn comparisons to Rajon Rondo.
- Will Barton, G-F, Portland TrailBlazers: Jack of all trades swingman who scores, rebounds and defends.
- Lucas Noguiera, C-F, Atlanta Hawks: If his play in Summer League is anywhere near as good as his afro is then we are in for a treat.
Well that's Orlando finished. Time for Vegas. Hope you enjoyed this. It was an absolute bitch to make on the part of my laptop breaking and I had to type up 75% of this on a USB keyboard wired into my PS3 which i'm using the web browser for. Regardless I shall be back in a few days with another Diary.