Las Vegas Summer League Studs and Duds Part 1: The Studs

The 2014 Las Vegas Summer League was one of the most anticipated Summer Leagues in recent memory. Why you ask? No, it wasn’t to see the Terribmento Kings (yes, that’s what I will be calling the Kings) miraculously come out victorious Very simply, it was the 2014 NBA Draft class. The class that is meant to deliver several franchise players, numerous All-Stars and high quality role players through its reported vast depth. Is this as star packed as we have been told? The jury is still out, but what we have seen is some outstanding performances by the ‘star’ rookies and with that we begin our Studs and Duds of the Las Vegas Summer League, with the MVP, Glen Rice Jr.

Studs

Glen Rice Jr.

2014               GP MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT%
Glen Rice Jr.     6  32 25.0  2.2  7.8  2.3 2.5  0.5   16  46.9 10.6 73.4

Glen Rice JrThe MVP of the tournament was an easy pick here. A simple one word sum up. Outstanding. Rice lead all players with an even 25 points per game on an efficient  46.9 percent shooting from the field, but it was his ability to get to the free throw line that was most impressive. Amassing an incredible 64 free throw attempts in just six games, Rice was able to get to the rack at will, using a decisive first step along with the three-point shot threat to get the defenders on their heels and scoot round and attack. Rice also showed his rebounding prowess, averaging an exceptional 7.8 a game, which for a wing player, is a massive plus. On the defensive end, Rice was racking up as many steals as Andrew Bynum does injuries, averaging a superb 2.5 a clip, with a game high of six coming in his final outing.  A greatly deserving MVP, but how does this bode for the regular season? Much better before Paul Pierce arrived. Despite the, if you like, set back, Rice should still see consistent minutes off the bench, filling up a wing spot. If he can continue to play defense and get to the bucket, he should hold decent fantasy value in deep leagues, but will hold higher value in dynasty leagues as he waits for Pierce to hurry up and retire.

Otto Porter Jr.

2014               GP MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT%
Otto Porter       6 31.8 19  1.2   5.8  1.8 0.5  0.3 15.8  48.4 3.6 68.2

Of all players, Otto Porter was the biggest surprise I witnessed. The third overall pick from the 2013 Draft, Porter had an absolute write-off of a season through injuries and poor play. But during the Las Vegas Summer League, Porter showed off some of the talents that lead him to being selected with that third pick. Running on the wings, Porter contributed  an impressive 19 points on an equally impressive 48.4 percent shooting, despite an awful looking jump shot, combining with Rice to display an outstanding offensive 1-2 punch. Porter also showed his ability to get up and rebound, pulling in 5.8 a game in what topped a successful tournament for the man out of Georgetown. Glen Rice Jr. arguably had the greater showing, but I believe Porter will get the nod ahead of Rice come day one of the season. He was their high draft pick and I believe he has the best chance to succeed. How much will he play? A lot of that will depend on how many minutes Paul Pierce will play, but expect him to get at least 20 minutes a game and look for him to provide some quality minutes at the three.  Points, field goal percentage and rebounding will be his main draw cards, but he has the ability to snag a steal here and there with the odd three.

Gorgui Dieng

2014               GP MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT%
Gorgui Dieng     6 29.8 11.5   0 10.2  1 1.8  1.7  9.3  44.6   4 79.2

It was somewhat of a surprise to see Dieng in Sin City. Excelling after Nikola Pekovic went down, with nine double doubles in 18 games (including a 20-20 game) during the regular season, Dieng was far too good to be playing here and he showed it. Dieng finished the tournament contributing terrific numbers in almost every category, 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds as well as 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks a game in what was just a showing of sheer dominance. Where it gets interesting is the Kevin Love situation. Until that is resolved, it’s almost impossible to be definitive on what role he will play. At this point in time, he will back up Pekovic, well until Pekovic goes down again, but Dieng will be a player who should be a solid pick whatever situation he plays in. Dynasty league owners can be the big winners by snapping him up as he is a sure fire starter in the not too distant future, if not right now. Those four areas he excelled in during the Summer League will be his most influential area, but look for his solid free throw percentage as well. Dieng is definitely one who I would be having a very good look into if he is still available towards the end of drafts.

Donatas Motiejunas

2014                       GP MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT%
Donatas Motiejunas   8 27 16.8  0.6   8.1   1 0.37  0.37 10.7 59.3 4.75 71.1

Donatas Motiejunas needed a big showing, and he delivered. He should be counting his lucky stars that the dinosaur, Chris Bosh opted to keep his long neck and abnormally wide mouth in South Beach as it has left minutes at the power forward position open. A big showing here has gone a long way into making his case for the starting position over Terrance Jones. D-Mo showed a big man’s game throwing down a stat line which included 16.8 points per game, 8.1 rebounds whilst shooting it at 59 percent. All these numbers show that D-Mo can play and put the ball in the hole. Although most of his points came from being isolated in the post, D-Mo also showed he could hit a shot from outside, shooting 38.5 percent, which is something he will need to do playing next to Dwight Howard. Jones should still have the starting four job come game one, but don’t be surprised to see D-Mo getting some big minutes and put up some quality numbers. Motiejunas is one that I will be looking to draft towards the latter stages in deeper leagues based on his potential to not only gain a starting spot, but also put up numbers from it.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

2014                            GP MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT%
Giannis Antetokounmpo   4 33 17  1.5  5.8  1.8   1   1  13  46.2 4.75 73.7

A 6’11’’ point guard? Well, that’s what he played at times during his four games in Las Vegas. If Jason Kidd has his way, we may get to see more of it as well and I hope we do because I got a great laugh out of watching it unfold before me. The long and lanky Greek freak was outstanding. Taking two bounces to go coast to coast and what looked like layups jumping from the three-point line, Antetokounmpo showed how much he has improved in a short amount of time as well as displaying some of the areas in his game that have him slotted as a potential future All-Star. Antetokounmpo shot a quality 17 points a game on 46.2 percent shooting to go along with 5.8 rebounds, one steal and one block a game. Expect Antetokounmpo to start from day one and with around 30 minutes a game up for grabs and as a result, be a big mover on fantasy rankings throughout the season. Antetokounmpo will make the Bucks a team to watch and is definitely a player to keep keen eyes on as he presents great value to whomever manages to snag him. BUT, if you want him, you may have to jump on him early as I foresee him being a big fantasy target as outlined by both Josh Lloyd and myself in the most recent Red Rock Fantasy Basketball Podcast here.

Jordan McCrae

2014                GP MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT%
Jordan McCrae   4 29  21  1.5  2.5  1   1.8  0.8 10.75  50 9.25 86.5

I couldn’t finish this list without including the 76ers standout, Jordan McCrae. The number 58 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, McCrae has done everything right to give himself the best chance of a starting spot on the youthful 76ers team. The 76ers released James Anderson, their starting two guard from last season and has left a starting spot up for grabs to whomever shows enough to earn it. McCrae was the third highest scorer through the tournament and did it whilst converting at an incredible 50 percent rate. He had the offense, but he also showed his defensive capabilities, chipping in 1.8 steals a game to further make his case to gain some big minutes, and big minutes there will be. Has McCrae done enough to get the nod from coach Brett Brown? We will have to wait and see, but don’t be surprised to see McCrae join a 76ers starting line up which could potentially include four players with a total experience of one NBA season between them with that sole season coming from 2013 Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams. If you need three-pointers, points and steals then McCrae is a player which has the potential be an absolute fantasy steal this season.

In reality, I easily could have listed another five or six names here, most notably C.J. McCollum, Tony Snell, Dougie McBuckets, and many others, but I went for a combo of top summer league showings as well as players who will be the most likely to contribute during the season.

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