The preliminary round of the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League is officially over, which means we get to see the debut of the LVSL tournament that will eventually crown a summer-league champion. In the Orlando Summer League earlier this month, we saw the Oklahoma City Thunder win that "tournament" and get some championship hats. The 22 teams in Las Vegas will be vying for the same type of honor.
The top 10 teams from the preliminary round (based on overall record and points earned for winning individual quarters and games) get a first-round bye in Wednesday's action, leaving 12 teams looking to advance. The teams that get to sit out Wednesday's festivities (in order of seeding) are the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, D-League Select, Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs.
Here are the teams playing Wednesday and what to watch for:
Jordan Hamilton against Austin Rivers. Maybe we'll see more Evan Fournier and Erick Green against Rivers at game time, but Hamilton is probably the Nuggets player most capable of defending him. With his size, length, and experience, Hamilton should have a big enough size advantage to make up for the quickness advantage that Rivers would have against him. Rivers is averaging 17.3 points and 2.7 assists while shooting 46.5 percent from the floor in his three summer-league games. A capable NBA defender could slow that down and keep the Pelicans from advancing.
The lack of accuracy from Tony Wroten. Wroten doesn't have a ton of NBA talent to play with on this summer-league team, thanks to ankle injuries to Jamaal Franklin and Jon Leuer. It's left him with Donté Greene and Janis Timma as his only scoring options. As a scoring option himself, Wroten seems to be forcing the issue, possibly to force him into more of a scoring rhythm at the NBA level. The results have not been pretty. He's getting to the line a ton (37 attempts in three games), but he's only made 56.8 percent of those freebies. He's shooting 22.5 percent from the field and has taken 40 shots in three games. He'll have to force the issue to learn how to score, but it doesn't look like we're seeing many positive results right now.
Robbie Hummel has impressed. The focus of the Wolves' summer-league action has mostly been on Shabazz Muhammad, but Hummel has been playing incredibly well. He has been both a small forward and a stretch-4 so far this summer and has shown the scoring touch and shooting accuracy that made him such a deadly college player before tearing his ACL multiple times in one year. He's averaging 11 points in his three summer games so far and has made 54.5 percent of his shots. He's also grabbing 6.7 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game. He played overseas last season and probably won't be given a shot at making the Wolves' roster until a year from now, but he's showing he's back to being the quality player that he was before.
C.J. McCollum against Dennis Schroeder. I wrote about Dennis Schroeder earlier on Wednesday, and we should get to see just how good his defense is when facing McCollum. While the Blazers' summer squad has struggled so far, McCollum looks every bit the smooth scorer that he was advertised to be before the draft. How is he going to handle the fundamental approach that Schroeder gives on defense as he waits to pounce on the slightest mistake? Is Schroeder going to be able to keep up with a bigger, stronger scorer who can hit from anywhere on the floor?
Let's take a look at James Ennis. With the news that Mike Miller has been amnestied by the Heat, it means they have room for one, cheaper option on the wing. That player should be Ennis, out of Long Beach State. His incredible wingspan (6-11 on a 6-7 frame) gives him the potential to be the 3-and-D type of wing player that they love to sport on the floor. While he probably wouldn't come in and play right away, he could be their poor man's version of Kawhi Leonard down the road. Ennis made 35.4 percent of his 3-pointers in college and should translate to a very workable shot as he develops.
How good is Gal Mekel? The Israeli point guard whom the Mavericks signed to a multiyear deal has displayed a pretty strong skill set so far. He doesn't really take bad shots and seems to know his limitations on offense (3-point shooting). He has been a really good distributor (5.7 assists per game) in his three games for the Mavericks this week and has made 52.0 percent of his shots. The turnovers (4.0 per game) have been a little problematic, but it's nothing that isn't fixable with experience. Considering Shane Larkin's broken ankle and Devin Harris no longer signing with Dallas, it looks like Mekel could really find some time if he keeps proving his capabilities.