Generally, the NBA Summer League is a first look at newly drafted/undrafted rookies. Each team consists of top tier college players from the past two years in which some will make the team but most will be designated to the D-League or overseas. Those who make the team are usually the players who were drafted or were already on the team this past year. Not always, but for the most part the Summer League is very telling of players who are going to have breakout years. For instance the top two performers in the 2012 summer league were Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard. Lillard went on to unanimously win the 2013 Rookie of The Year and Leonard was integral in the Spurs push for the NBA championship and had a ridiculous 19 Points and 16 Rebounds in an unfortunate game 7 loss. The NBA Summer League has just begun and I will be periodically reviewing this years player performance.
Terrence Jones SF/PF Houston Rockets
Similar to Leonard’s situation, Terrence Jones has already been in the NBA for one season. After being drafted 18th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets, Jones went straight to the D-League and flourished with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers averaging 19 point and 9 rebounds per game. He was called up to Houston for the final 19 games of the season. In his last couple games of the season Jones showed promising consistency and even notched a double double in a win against the Sacramento Kings.
In his first Summer League game against the Philadelphia 76ers Jones was clearly the best player on the floor. Scoring 24 points, bringing in 12 rebounds, and shooting 69% from the field justified that. I think Jones will continue this production and be one of the standouts of Summer League. Look for him to contribute this season as a sixth man on a contending Rockets team.
Victor Oladipo SG Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic grabbed the most NBA ready player with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Victor Oladipo out of Indiana is very comparable to Dwyane Wade and even played under the same college coach, Tom Crean. Barring Arron Afflalo’s situation, Oladipo should see significant minutes at Shooting Guard this upcoming season or be the consistent starter.
In Oladipo’s first Summer League game he showed a very balanced performance with 18 points, 5 steals, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. His performance was imperative to Orlando’s win. I predict that Oladipo will consistently perform better each game and be the star of the Summer League that Lillard was last season. Also, he will be the 2014 NBA Rookie of The Year.
Kelly Olynyk PF/C Boston Celtics
Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga is coming into a great situation with the Boston Celtics. Considering the Celtics are rebuilding opens the Power Forward position right up for the 13th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Olynyk had one of the best performances of Day One. Although falling short to Oladipo’s Magic, Olynyk was the silver lining to an abysmal Boston Celtics team. Olynyk’s game is purely offensive. He has the potential to score from mid range and three point while dominating in the post. Kelly dropped 25 points while shooting 75% from the field and even hitting two 3’s. If he could become a more complete player, Olynyk should see a long productive NBA career ahead of him.
Dwight Buycks PG Oklahoma City Thunder
Dwight Buycks is a wild card considering he was the only player in this group who went undrafted. Out of Marquette, Buycks played in the 2011-12 season in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers averaging 15.1 points per game. Since then he’s played overseas in Germany and France. Now Buycks is back in the states testing the waters of the NBA/D-League.
In Buycks first game, he seems like a more complete player than he was when he played in the D-League two years ago. While formerly being more of a scoring Point Guard, he has made his game more balanced by looking for the open man and it proved to be successful in this past game against the Indiana Pacers. Buycks was one assist shy of the Orlando Summer League assist record with 13 along with scoring 12 points. If Buycks continues this consistency, he could find himself as the third Point Guard on OKC’s depth chart. It’s unlikely but very possible.