NBA / Jul 23, 2013 / 12:00 pm

The 5 Biggest Surprises From The NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League

Ray McCallum Jr.

Ray McCallum Jr. (photo. UDM Sports Info)

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.

[RELATED: The 5 Biggest Surprises From The NBA’s Orlando 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.

[RELATED: The 5 Biggest Disappointments From The NBA’s Orlando Summer League]

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.

Keep reading for the top three surprises from the Las Vegas Summer League…

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  • ablade

    Wow, no love for Kelly Olynyk? Were you guys even watching??

    The guy was a standout from the very first game (25 points hitting 9 of 13; coming off a year in which he shot 62.9%!). He wasn’t a name I was looking out for, but he caught my eye in the very first game.

    You can tell he played point guard (before a growth spurt); he has the handle and scores like a 7 foot guard! He has the gait and movement of a guard. 4th in points, 5th in rebounds is a good start (insert “even if it is ONLY summer league” obligated quote here).

    I know a lot was made of Davis playing PG before last year’s draft, but it was hard to see that side of his game in him (that’s not a bad thing! He’s a solid shot blocker, looks natural at his position and looks like a solid first pick). Olynyk looks totally different, he does look like a big guard playing out of position!

    The big question is whether he can somehow use that to his advantage. A 7 foot guard playing centre is no use to anyone, if he can make the step up and play as a centre (I’m assuming they’ll play him at the 5 rather than 4, considering half their squad is made up of power forwards!) and use his previous experience as a point guard as an advantage, he could be a very, very interesting player to watch, and perhaps the steal of the draft at the 13th pick

    There are a lot of Ifs, mights, maybes and buts about him. But I think he’s certainly worth the risk. He could bust at the NBA level, but if he doesn’t, IF (!!); he’s a player that could change the dynamic of the team (without even being a star, just by the nature of the way he plays).

    The problem Celtics have is that if (there’s that “if” again!), he does turn out to be a good pick (can sweep the boards, hustle with bigger, more experienced centres, can put a few down and perhaps even pass-out) they might find themselves being a mid-table team (Rondo, Crawford/Bradley, Green, Sullinger, Olynyk; there are worse starting 5s in the East!), in a year when it seems like they are trying their hardest to tank!

    If you could pick any player from the summer league it would have to be Drummond (and if you don’t think that; you’re wrong!), if you had to take a player from this draft I guess most people would go for Oladipo (me too, probably, he’s the safest bet out there), but in a few years, people just might (MIGHT!) look back on this draft and wonder how the hell Olynyk ended up as the 13 pick!

  • DimeMatt

    dude read my article on the “The 5 Biggest Surprises from the Orlando Summer League”…Olynyk was #1! This article was just a recap for the vegas summer league, which Olynyk didn’t play in

  • ablade

    OH! I just realised “Las Vegas”! That was Orlando. Sorry, but the points still stand :P

  • DimeMatt
  • ablade

    Yeah sorry man. I realised my mistake after typing it, I thought it was a top 5 of both summer leagues.

    Good picks at 1 & 2 on the Orlando page, great minds ;)

  • DimeMatt

    thx man appreciate the love!

  • Noah Matheu

    No love for Jermaine Taylor?

  • Jay Russ

    No love for Kent Bazemore? Dude was balling’ and helped lead GS to the championship