The NBA Las Vegas Summer League ended its 11-day run by crowning the Golden State Warriors as it’s first ever champion in a 91-77 win over the Phoenix Suns. While the Warriors took home the title, there were plenty of other champion-like performances turned in by players in Las Vegas.
Sifting through the 22 teams and over 300 players in attendance, here are some of the NBA players and hopefuls that made some noise during the week worthy of recognition.
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Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors: Yes, he’s the starting center for Toronto and maybe it wasn’t a big deal for him to have played well. But he was so polished offensively it bears mentioning. He completely dominated Vegas with 18.8 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Jeffery Taylor, Charlotte Bobcats: In four masterful games, Taylor showed he was pretty much wasting his time by competing in Vegas. Taylor did as he pleased by scoring in every conceivable way. He made jumpers, layups, floaters and mixed in some highlight dunks to propel him to 20.3 points per game at summer league.
Austin Rivers, New Orleans Pelicans: He looked completely healthy with an improved handle and midrange jumper on his way to 18.3 points per game on 49 percent shooting. He also played a bit more under control than we have previously seen which should help him get minutes on the improved Pelicans roster next season.
Aron Baynes, San Antonio Spurs: If summer league was any indication of how good he can be, then the Spurs will be deep in the frontcourt next season. Baynes was one of five guys to average a double-double with 12 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Malcolm Thomas, Chicago Bulls: He led all participants in rebounding at 15 per game, including a Las Vegas Summer League record-setting performance with 22 boards on July 15. He has a great attitude and is fine trying to carve out a niche as a defender and rebounder, even if it won’t be in Chicago. The Bulls didn’t retain his rights.
Andrew Goudelock, Chicago Bulls: There is little doubt that Goudelock can score in the NBA (19 points per game in Vegas). What he is not is a playmaker for others, so teams should stop trying to make him become one. He should get another shot in the league as an instant offense type of guy next season.
5. RAY McCALLUM, Sacramento Kings
It could be easily argued that McCallum was Sacramento’s best player, or at least the most consistent, in Las Vegas. He littered the stat sheet with 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game. His jumper wasn’t exactly wet at just 38 percent, but he was effective at getting into the lane and finishing in traffic with contact. His play was so impressive that the Kings locked him up with a three-year guaranteed deal, according to The Sacramento Bee. Keep in mind that most second-rounders don’t receive guaranteed deals. The Kings will have a crowded backcourt in the fall and McCallum is going to make the decision on playing time very stressful for their new head coach Mike Malone.
4. JOSH AKOGNON, Dallas Mavericks
This was one confident dude out at summer league. He finished his run 12th in scoring at 17.5 points per game. The downside is that he doesn’t do much else than score, which is a hard sell, especially given his height at just 5-11 (and that’s being generous). Comments on his game ranged from “chucker” to “spark plug” which probably puts him somewhere in the middle. His overall 42 percent from the floor wasn’t all that impressive, but his 39 percent from deep and 96 percent from the free throw line were. He made the most of his opportunity and was aided by Shane Larkin’s ankle injury, opening up time in the guard rotation. After recently being waived by Dallas, he will probably spend time in the D-League but could be called up by a team in a bind later in the season.