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2014 Las Vegas Summer League Awards and Overall Impressions

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the NBA announced their Summer League MVP and All-NBA Summer League teams. Glen Rice Jr. of the Washington Wizards won the MVP with 25 PPG and 7.8 RPG. Here is a list of the teams via

Samsung All-NBA Summer League First Team

Doug McDermott - Chicago Bulls
Donatas Motiejunas - Houston Rockets
Otto Porter - Washington Wizards
Glen Rice, Jr. - Washington Wizards
Tony Snell - Chicago Bulls

Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team

Rudy Gobert - Utah Jazz
Tim Hardaway, Jr. - New York Knicks
Jordan McRae - Philadelphia 76ers
Russ Smith - New Orleans Pelicans
T.J. Warren - Phoenix Suns

Those are the awards via the NBA and now here are my overall impressions from my five days in Vegas. I saw 19 games and I saw nearly every team that was there. Most of them I saw at least twice, but I missed a few teams like the Wizards and only saw part of these teams performances, so that's something to keep in mind for the players I talk about here.

Seeing so many teams and so many players gave me a very good sense of who had a good week and who did not. I had my expectations set for just about everyone there so it's something we will look back on right now. Here are the players that surprised me, those that met my expectations, and those that disappointed.


Doug McDermott was high on my list for those I was eager to see and he managed to surpass that. McDermott's quickness and mobility was evident and he used this in the Chicago offense built around him moving off the ball. I said that this is arguable his best trait and it played out that way. You see his movement and IQ both with and without the ball and you get all antsy already, but then you see the guy shoot and that's when you get blown away. McDermott shot 44% from 3 in Vegas and that's with a 1-6 performance against Philadelphia in their last game. I saw McDermott as a fantastic shooter with both super intangibles and super scoring entering the draft and that's what I saw in Vegas. Seeing it in person made it more evident to me how good he could be in the NBA and that's why he makes this group. The question I asked in my column was if he could really succeed if you don't run an offense around him like the Bulls did in Vegas and that will be something to watch for in Chicago for their first few games.

C.J. McCollum, Will Barton, and Thomas Robinson stood out to me as players who looked experienced. All three spent some time in Portland's rotation and that time on a very good team had them look like veterans in Vegas. McCollum's court vision and ease of not only reading every situation, but also had the ability of looking very good while doing some difficult things to make the best out of these situations. Barton's athleticism, slashing and defense were good, and the same for Robinson but with the added bang he brings on the boards. Their overall sense of rhythm for the flow of the game defensively showed off how crucial it is to get minutes early in your career and get them for a very good team. All three weren't seen as defensive options out of the draft but all of them looked like NBA caliber defenders to me. That plus their overall skill sets had me very impressed.

Tony Snell could not miss. Snell flat out looked like a bad player last season for Chicago and then started doing everything that everyone wanted to see out of him in Vegas. He was shooting the three with confidence and looked like a deadly jump shooter to me. 50% from three on 34 attempts with all sorts of different situations shooting the ball makes that Chicago bench look much improved for next season.

Jordan Clarkson looked as advertised to me and it continues to look like he will be added to the list of second round steals. Clarkson is crafty and smooth with his athleticism in attacking the rim and that unique way he goes about his slashing was his main appeal as a prospect. His man concern was shooting, but Clarkson shot 42% from three in Vegas on a good amount of attempts. As with everything from summer league, I'm not saying that means he's a good shooter now, it's just a very good sign. His awareness on the floor extended to his game-winning tip-in against the Warriors and it appears that the Lakers got themselves a player.

In our "the Suns could have had this guy" group, Gary Harris and Nerlens Noel looked great to me. Harris as a jump shooter was the most impressive, as he has a very quick and good looking release that suggests at the very least he could be your lockdown defender and three-point specialist. His shooting was one of his critiques in college but it looked ready to me. His expected IQ, slashing, and defense were all great and he looks legit. Noel as a defender was one of the most impressive things in Vegas. He's extremely agile, has good instincts, and just understands how to use his length and athleticism to lock up passing lanes, block shots, and get steals. He's going to be very good when it comes to being just a defender, but the big plus might be the potential you can spot with his offensive game. He understands how to get his hook shot and other moves off with space, he just needs to work on his touch. His jumper is a work in progress, but his very high release and touch he has on it suggests that it will become a weapon later in his career. The injury concerns are legitimate but he looks like he will be a very good player.

Dante Exum is going to be the real deal. He is so fast and quick with the way he works on the floor and his passing ability was some of the best I saw all week. There are some extensions and evolutions that are going to come with his game as he gets older and the core skill set you saw in Vegas was impressive enough to warrant that assumption for growth.

I was very surprised by whenever Rudy Gobert could have a sequence of blocks and finishes, but he flirted with flat out dominating some games which blew me away. Gobert seems to understand what the point of him as a basketball player is and with two point guards on the court that are such good passers (Exum, Burke) he can be a plus offensively. He's miles behind still in terms of understanding the game though, which you noticed by how often his teammates yelled at him or had to pull him aside to tell him what he did wrong. He's a lot further along than I thought he would be though, and the handful of stretches he dominated for Utah is enough to land here.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Cleanthony Early were my favorite duo in Vegas. Antetokounmpo's energy on the bench and the floor was insane and he was actually very impressive as a defender and with the ball in his hands. His takes to the rim and confidence in shooting (wasn't consistent, but he was ready) showed a surprising amount of offensive potential, which has to be a huge thrill for Knicks fans considering his tenacity as a defender. Early looked like I thought he would and I still stand by my high grade of him. He's strong, athletic, and can shoot outside while banging inside. That package pretty much guarantees for him to have an impact on the game in some way and it was clear that he was becoming a fan favorite for the Knicks.  He looks ready to be a rotation player right away and could become far more than that in my opinion.

Met Expectations

Some might freak out that he didn't make the other list, but T.J. Warren did just about what we expected him to do. The dude gets buckets and he was clinical in his finishing around the rim and in transition. It was strange to see his number one weapon in college, the floater, be so off in Vegas but everything else looked good. We didn't see him enter that "I'm going to score now" mode until later on in the trip and that's when the Suns were really struggling so it's hard to judge. He doesn't really jump out anywhere in the game and then you see that he has 17 points at halftime. I saw a handful of possessions where his size and defense were a concern still so that's why he finds this group.

I've been high enough on Andrew Wiggins for him to land here. The way he operates as a scorer continues to suggest that he will become a legitimate scorer in the NBA. This is still with him being that lockdown defender who makes freak plays athletically and has the intangibles to be in the right place at the right time. Still holding on to my very high evaluation.

They didn't really dominate at any points, but my goodness is the potential oozing out of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Antetokounmpo ran the freaking point at nearly seven feet tall for some points and did it rather effectively. His ability to get into the lane is well noted but the way he shot the three suggests that could be a part of his game very soon. Despite shooting just above 40% in Vegas, Parker still looked good. The way he sees the floor, his control of the ball, his strides, passing, finishing, and composure. He forced it way too much there but once he settles in he will be just fine.

I wrote enough about Tyler Ennis in the recaps of our Suns games so you should be familiar by now with how I feel. He has a special way of working off of ball screens and seeing the floor. His floater looks ready to me and once he starts developing jumpers from mid-range he could be basically unstoppable in those situations. His defense was the most impressive but that was countered by how concerning his shot from deep looked.


Bruno Caboclo was disappointing in the way that he plays. I expected him to be a big time flash and have some "WHOA!" plays, but he just looks like a super role player (potential wise) to me. His defense was a lot better than I expected it to be and his scoring was limited to using his athleticism and hitting threes. The "Brazilian Kevin Durant" was his big tag-line from the draft but I'd go more with something along the lines of some aspects of Kawhi Leonard.

Anthony Bennett was in shape and hitting threes, but I didn't see much more to his game that suggest he will evolve over time. He is very comfortable receiving the ball at the top of the key and could work off the dribble to create space, we just didn't see a lot of him working inside on both ends and with his body type that concerns me. The work off the dribble wasn't that impressive either, it was just more so that he could do it. You could take his work both ways, I just take it that there might not be that much more to his game besides the simplistic version of a stretch 4.

Archie Goodwin still has a long way to go. He can really get to the rim and finish but there are so many more parts of his game that need to improve. Whether it's defensively, playmaking, or knowing what to do when he can't get to the rim, he looked really young out there. This is nothing to get worried about because of how young he is, it's just that I don't think that he's ready to be in the rotation right now like some others do.

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