2013 Las Vegas Summer League: What to watch on Day 8
The 2013 Las Vegas Summer League is here, and we've got the players and teams to watch for on Day 8. Here are the developing storylines.
The seventh day of Las Vegas Summer League brought some fun moments to the basketball court, as teams vied to stay alive in the tournament format and continue getting a chance to play for championship hats. We capped off the night with Kent Bazemore of the Golden State Warriors igniting an impressive 17-2 run in the final 3:20 of the game to bring his team back against the Dallas Mavericks with an impressive dunk over Jackie Carmichael. Before that, we had an exchange of words and buckets between Vander Blue of the Memphis Grizzlies and Jeff Taylor of the Charlotte Bobcats.
On Friday, we'll have one last chance from the teams below to look at any possible fringe players they may want to invite to their training camps this fall. The losing teams from Wednesday and Thursday's action all play Friday to finish out their summer league session. Let's take a look at some stories from each matchup.
Is Jeremy Tyler impressing? Tyler was one of the more impressive high school big men of the past decade before he left school after his junior year and went on a journey that included playing in Israel and Japan, instead of going to college for one year before joining the NBA. Since then, he's been disappointing to the degree that he's only a fringe NBA player. This week, he's played just 17 minutes per game for the Knicks' summer squad, but he's putting up impressive numbers of 11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 offensive rebounds per game. He's showing to be a physical player, but it might be going too far as some have seen him a little bit as someone who loses his cool easily because he's been forcing the physical play.
Ben McLemore going to the left. Force Ben McLemore to his left. That's been the strategy for most of this week against the Sacramento Kings' first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and it's extremely effective. McLemore has struggled against various defenders from Kent Bazemore to Othyus Jeffers, mostly because they're being physical with him, taking away his space, and not allowing him to go to his right hand. In the process, McLemore has made just 28.1 percent of his shots and has 14 turnovers to zero assists. It's been so bad that even a couple of assistant coaches from various teams were laughing about him being "welcomed to the NBA." It doesn't mean he'll be a bad pro player; it just means he's being shown just how much he has to work to succeed at the NBA level.
Is there any concern about Otto Porter's game? Speaking of struggling high lottery picks, Porter isn't exactly lighting the world on fire. Other than rebounding decently (3.7 in 21.7 minutes per game), there isn't a single thing Porter is doing well in summer league. He has three free-throw attempts in three games, can't make a 3-pointer (0 for 5) and is shooting 30.0 percent from the field. His game has been incredibly boring on the court, which isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it's also not getting people to clamor about the third pick in the most recent draft. Even just a 15-point explosion would be nice to see from him.
The struggles of Nate Wolters. With so many young players from the 2013 draft looking a little too green even for summer league, this might just be the "Summer of Struggle" for the rookies. Wolters was a second-round pick that a lot of people expected to at least be able to shoot the ball accurately. He hasn't hit a 3-pointer in his seven attempts, and he's shooting just 32.3 percent from the field. He's played off the ball quite a bit while Ish Smith handles the rock, so you'd expect him to be able to get free for clean shots. But mostly, it's been a disappointing shooting performance from him.
8:30 p.m. ET -- Denver Nuggets vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Big first halves from Jordan Hamilton. He has taken matters into his own hands in the first half of each of the last two games. In his third summer league game this past week, Hamilton dropped 18 points in the first quarter by hitting some deep pull-up 3-pointers. The shots indicated that he was either feeling like his hand was hot or he was looking to get pulled from the game so he could take a nap. Last game, he scored 14 of his 25 points in the first half. He's starting out games beautifully and possibly gearing up for one more big scoring effort to end his summer league (career?) on a high note.
10 p.m. ET -- Dallas Mavericks vs. Chicago Bulls
How does Malcolm Thomas rebound so well? The activity of the San Diego State forward is starting to get noticed this summer. Thomas has 45 total rebounds and 16 offensive rebounds in the three games he's played. He's 6-9 and 225 pounds, so he's not a huge guy who can just push opposing players out of the way to grab boards. He's doing a nice job of boxing out, but mostly he's finding the gaps in the areas around the basket and just being quicker to the ball on the bevy of missed shots. There isn't a ton of ways that Thomas can dominate a basketball game, but he certainly is showing a great work ethic and desire to hit the glass and give his team some confidence that they have that area of the game covered.
Thomas Robinson being an athlete. Robinson has struggled in the last year throughout his two summer sessions, but when he's just being an athlete on the court, he's very impressive. He's struggled with his shot in both summers, and turnovers remain a problem for a big man that is hoping to do more dribbling than he probably should. When he's not thinking too much and just reacts as an athletic big man on the court, he finds ways to dominate the boards and get big dunks around defenders. To ensure the fifth pick of last year's draft becomes successful in this league, maybe it would be good for Portland to strip him of a lot of responsibility early on and just get his confidence up by letting him make athletic plays.
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