The 2014 Orlando Summer League came to a close with the Philadelphia 76ers limping away victorious against a surprisingly competitive Indiana team. Bar the championship game in which he didn’t participate, Nerlens Noel showed glimpses of the exciting, dominant force for the Summer League Champions we all hoped he will become. With that, he kicks off our Part One of the Studs and Duds of the 2014 Orlando Summer League tournament.
|Nerlens Noel 3||25.3||13.7||0||5.7||1.7||2.3||3.0||11.6||52.0||6.3||80.9|
Forget the Afro’s, the Flat-top will be the hair of choice for fans in the City of Brotherly Love, eager to get some up close action of the man that is Nerlens Noel. Noel got off to a big bang in his first game, but it was not on the end that everyone expected. Noel had a whopping 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting and a perfect 7-pf-7 from the free throw line. Noel has done his best to shake the, ‘anything on the offensive end is a bonus’ and through his strong showing, he is starting to have people believe he has a potential future that includes some go-to moves along with the devastating defensive ability. Noel showed various post moves which incorporated advanced footwork for someone who was supposedly only a defensive presence. Noel should average something a bit closer to 6-10 points a game with most of those coming off tip-ins and dunks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his offensive game developed beyond that throughout the season. Defensively, Noel excelled just as we all expected him to. Noel was a terror for opposing guards attempting to get into the lane continuously stripping players at a rate of 2.3 per game and kicking off the fast break, even at times going the whole length of the court and finishing with authority. Similarly, his shot blocking numbers were high. It’s no secret Noel is an athletic freak, jumping out of the gym and with an outrageous 7’4” wingspan, will have no shortage of blocked shots this season. Although I don’t expect him to average 2.3 steals and 3.0 blocks a game, something along the lines of 1.5 steals and 2-2.5 blocks a game sounds achievable.
|Elfrid Payton 5||25.8||9.2||1.0||5.2||7.0||1.4||0.6||5.4||59.3||4.0||65|
Clearly the key to success is to have a wicked hair style, as we focus on another player with crazy hair, Elfrid Payton. Contrary to his fellow wicked hair style brother Nerlens Noel, Payton got off to a bit of a shaky start. Early on, Payton was prone to getting trapped in double teams and consequently turning the ball over which effected his initial performance. But late in the game, he started to show signs of why the Magic pressed to trade for the Louisiana guard. His second game, it all come together for Payton, who shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and narrowly missed the triple double by two rebounds and a single assist. Impressive enough, Payton reciprocated the feat again against fellow draftee Marcus Smart and the Celtics, this time missing out on the triple double by a mere two points and a single rebound. Along with posting quality stats, all eyes were on how he would complement last years top pick, Victor Oladipo. The two guards were tenacious on defense, hounding opposing ball handlers as well as combining on the offensive end, summed up with an exciting alley-oop pass which was hammered home by Oladipo in what looks to be an extremely bright future for the Magic. These stats all bode well for fantasy owners as Payton projects as the starting PG for the Magic these season and therefore should see ample minutes to show his craft and contribute across the board.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 5||30.2||24||2.4||7.4||1.6||1.8||0.2||18.8||40.4||8||80|
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is definitely in the discussion for MVP of the tournament. KCP has been a revolution this Summer League, showing some of the skills that the Pistons saw when selecting him eighth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. KCP was the leading scorer of the tournament averaging an impressive 24 points a game, (albeit on 40% shooting) but there was no play that summed up his progress than hitting a clutch three in a win against the Heat. No hesitation, no second thoughts, no looking to pass it once getting the ball. KCP wanted that ball and was going to take the shot regardless of what the defense threw at him. That play is one in which KCP showed his progress and increased confidence in his game in just one off-season. If you take out the last game, KCP averaged 27 points along with an impressive eight rebounds throughout, including one game of 30 points and 12 rebounds. His showing thus far has me believe that he can easily improve on his 5.6 points per game he achieved last season, through an all round improved game to the point in which I expect him to double that number, well, as long as his buddy J-Smooth stops shooting threes and gives up the rock!
|James Ennis 5||26.4||17.4||2.6||6.2||1.6||1.6||0.4||11||54.5||3.8||73.6|
James Ennis came back to the US of A and put up a promising set of numbers. After growing his game overseas, Ennis has shown off the pogo stick legs and streaky shooting that should allow him to make a contribution to a Miami Heat team that has drastically changed since the choice from LeBron James to return back home and grace the city of Cleveland with his presence once again. Still on the lookout for a replacement starting forward, (Luol Deng is favourite for this), Ennis has the potential to be a significant role player for the Heat. His high rebounding numbers and fantastic shooting percentages, which were somewhat helped by a 29 point on 10/12 shooting explosion, give Miami a player who can stretch the floor as well as get to the cup and finish above the ring as we saw numerous times throughout the tournament including this nasty slam on the break. It is hard to tell just how much of a role Ennis will play for the Heat and what his potential stats will look like until the roster is finalised, but he is one that fantasy owners in deep leagues should absolutely keep an eye on.
|Nick Johnson 5||29.4||15.8||8||6.2||5||1.4||0.6||5.4||59.3||4||65|
‘Given to Fly’, a song made famous by Grunge rockers Pearl Jam, is a song which depicts Nick Johnson jumping ability to a tee. This dunk, showcasing his 41.5 inch vertical jump, shows just how high Nick Johnson can in fact fly, but fly is not the only thing Johnson can do. Finishing the tournament with an impressive 15.8 points per game on 44.6% shooting, combined with 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists showcased his fantastic all-round offensive ability, including an outstanding triple double against the Brooklyn Nets. Although he didn’t put the numbers statistically on the defensive end, (0.8 steals and blocks per game), Johnson is a more than capable defender making the PAC-12 All-Defensive Team in his last college season. Whether he can showcase his talent in the NBA this season on the contending Rockets team or attempt to play overseas remains to be seen. Is he a relevant fantasy player? Probably not this season, but in dynasty leagues, his progress is one to keep your eye on. One thing is for sure, and that is that Nick Johnson certainly doesn’t lack the skill level needed to contribute at the NBA level in the future.