All-Las Vegas Summer League team
LAS VEGAS — Twenty teams have been eliminated from the inaugural Las Vegas Summer League tournament, leaving the Warriors and Suns to play for the championship on Monday night. Even with a majority of the 2013 lottery picks missing in action because of injuries or their teams competing in the Orlando summer league earlier this month, there were plenty of standout performances over the last 10 days.
Here’s The Point Forward’s All-Las Vegas Summer League team, plus a list of honorable mentions.
All-Las Vegas Summer League Team
C — Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors: No other player here looked to have the breakout potential of the 21-year-old Lithuanian center, who is entering his second season. Valanciunas dominated smaller, weaker competition in the post, but he also displayed a versatile offensive game complete with a nice passing touch, textbook pump fakes and the ability to finish with both hands. He ranked in the top five in scoring (18.8 points) and rebounding (10.0) and played savvy, consistent interior defense. The fifth pick in the 2011 draft received our unofficial vote for summer-league MVP.
F — John Henson, Bucks: Henson has made scouts’ mouths water ever since he was an impossibly skinny teenager making the rounds on the high school All-Star circuit. Now, at age 22, the 14th pick in 2012 appears poised to turn that potential into reality on Milwaukee’s new-look roster. Henson stood out against a crop of young big men generally lacking in prominent names and high picks, averaging 14.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and three blocks in three games. His length and athletic ability continue to be his calling cards, and he made an impact around the rim on both ends of the floor.
F — Markieff/Marcus Morris, Suns: These two were such a powerful force that they had to be included in the same roster slot, and they surely wouldn’t have it any other way. Few players took the games as seriously as the Morris twins, who together trash-talked and hacked their way to multiple technical fouls and multiple disqualifications. All the rough, edgy stuff helped lead the Suns to a 6-0 record entering Monday, and Marcus’ last-second game-winner against Minnesota ensured that Phoenix stayed perfect. Together, they averaged 28 points and 9.8 rebounds and played active, aggressive defense.
G — Kent Bazemore, Warriors: He’s the odds-on favorite to win the official MVP award because of Golden State’s strong tournament play and his excellent numbers. Bazemore has done it all. Offensively, he’s functioned both on and off the ball, creating shots, throwing down highlight dunks and getting to the free-throw line. He’s also played physical, clean, chest-to-chest defense on the perimeter and sustained his energy. We’ve seen him jump over the scorer’s table, fly into the crowd and lead multiple late-game comebacks as Golden State advanced to Monday’s title game. All that energy has stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 18.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals.
G — Dennis Schröder, Hawks: The 19-year-old German is the only 2013 draft pick (No. 17) to make our team. Schröder ran Atlanta’s offense with an unselfish grace (he ranked second with 5.6 assists), and he started its defense with tenacious on-the-ball pressure. Schröder acts like a coach on the floor, demonstrating an understanding of his teammates’ strengths and weaknesses. He also carries himself with a calm professionalism on and off the court, a personality honed during his two seasons playing in Germany. His length and defensive intensity have drawn comparisons to Rajon Rondo, and he looks ready to give the Hawks minutes if needed as a rookie.
Reggie Bullock, Clippers: It was hard to watch the 25th pick in last month’s draft without thinking: “That guy does his job very well.” Bullock, a wing shooter who worked hard to set up his looks, averaged 18 points in five games. Given the Clippers’ perimeter depth and their mandate to make a deep playoff run, it’s uncertain how much time he will see next season. At the very least, he makes for nice injury protection and he could prove useful if the Clippers trot out some unorthodox small-ball lineups.
Dwight Buycks, Raptors: We got only a quick glance at Buycks, who played just two games after agreeing to a multiyear deal with the Raptors earlier this month. The 24-year-old point guard spent the last few seasons in France and the D-League, but he made an immediate impact in both Orlando and Las Vegas. Here, he averaged competition highs of 23 points and seven assists, as his attacking mentality and quickness off the dribble were perfectly suited to this format.
Andrew Goudelock, Bulls: This year’s designated scorer for hire, Goudelock’s scorching stretches were hotter than those of anyone else. The final damage: 19 points per game and 52.2 percent three-point shooting (12-of-23) from three-point range, topped by a 31-point explosion against the Nuggets. After playing only 41 games total over the last two seasons for the Lakers, the 46th pick in 2011 is surely hoping for a bigger shot.
CJ McCollum, Blazers: The No. 10 pick in 2013 ranked second with 21 points per game, but he shot just 36.6 percent and endured some serious cold stretches for Portland, which finished 1-5. McCollum struggled with extra defensive pressure when he acted as point guard. He looked most comfortable when he was free to do what he does best: create his own shot off the dribble.
Cody Zeller, Bobcats: One of the most intriguing players in Vegas, Zeller is a skilled big man who moves freely in both transition and the half court. He averaged 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds while showing off his versatile inside/outside offensive game. Zeller’s transition to the NBA will involve some bumps on the defensive end and on the glass. That said, he did enough here to earn a little patience from those in North Carolina who booed his selection with the No. 4 pick.
Others Worth Mentioning
Quincy Acy (Raptors), Aron Baynes (Spurs), Archie Goodwin (Suns), Draymond Green (Warriors), Lucas Nogueira (Hawks), Austin Rivers (Pelicans), Brian Roberts (Pelicans), Thomas Robinson (Blazers), Mike Scott (Hawks), Jeff Taylor (Bobcats), Marquis Teague (Bulls), Malcolm Thomas (Bulls), Tyler Zeller (Cavaliers).