The first portion of the NBA Summer League begins today in Orlando with a match-up between Darius Miles and the Charlotte Bobcats versus Rod "Boom Tho" Benson's Utah Jazz.
As I've mentioned over and over again, the majority of these games will be available on NBA TV. For those that don't have access to NBA TV (like me), however, there is the availability to watch all of the Summer League games online for $14.95 - as well as the chance to watch games on demand.
What to watch for in each game after the jump - and if you're a fellow Summer League junkie, feel free to use this as an open thread (I'll even join you!).
1 p.m. ET - Charlotte Bobcats vs. Utah Jazz
Bobcats Free Agent Player To Watch: Darius Miles.
Darius Miles is back. Miles, you'll remember, has already attempted one comeback following what was supposed to be a career-ending knee injury. I can't necessarily say that comeback was succesful, but he did end up playing 34 NBA games so it didn't fail miserably either.
Following that season, though, he was arrested for marijuana possession and the Grizzlies worried about him wrongly influencing O.J. Mayo. I don't know what he did this past season, but I sincerely hope his life is back on track and he's able to return to form (both on the court and in the movies).
It all starts today.
Jazz Free Agent Player To Watch: Rod Benson.
Too Much Rod Benson is an internet sensation - it's been a movement for quite awhile, really.
Interestingly enough, Benson's not too bad at basketball either. I wrote about his past season in-depth when he said he planned to retire from the D-League, so instead of writing a whole bunch of new stuff I'll excerpt a portion of the old stuff!
Benson averaged an
impressive astounding 24 points, 16.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting 63% from the field and keeping his team in the three-game series, but still wasn't able to get the opportunity of an NBA call-up that so many of his D-League counterparts received.
That's because the NBA talent is there - and is quite visible not only in the numbers you can see in the box score (look at the playoff averages above), but also when looking at the Synergy Sports Technology numbers to get a better idea of his impact on the defensive end. According to SST, Benson had 337 defensive possessions this season while holding his opponents to a meager 35.7% field goal shooting percentage. He ranked as "excellent" both as a post defender, a situation he was in 35.6% of the time, and as a spot-up defender, a situation he encountered 32.3% of the time.
So to recap thus far: he's good on offense, he's good on defense, he's smart, he's well-rounded and he's fixed every problem NBA teams have been said to have with the 6-foot-10 big man. What am I missing?
We'll find out if the end of his D-League season can translate into a solid Summer League starting today - and mixing it up with his old nemesis Alexis Ajinca will be a great way of determining where he is right now.
For a breakdown of the rest of the Jazz roster, go here.
3 p.m. ET - Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic
Pacers Free Agent Player To Watch: Marcus Williams
With the Pacers needing a point guard, I'm going to give it to Williams - will they play him at the point like he learned in Austin?
From Jon L:
The Pacers like Williams, enough to call him up last season. Williams, however, declined the opportunity to join their roster with a guaranteed Summer League invite, a decision that seems all the more baffling in light of his being on their Summer League roster anyway, only without the money he would've received by accepting the call-up. Whatever. Williams was a small forward in college, but transitioned to point guard with the Austin Toros.
We're big fans here at RU, as Williams can score, pass and rebound. He's also a decent defender, though there are nights where his attention on that end falters a bit. He spent part of last season overseas before returning to the Toros, where Curtis Jerrells' presence meant Williams played more like a true small forward, and perhaps the by-then unfamiliar role led to some uneven playoff performances. Despite that, and despite the rather roundabout way Williams made it to Summer League with the Pacers, he's here now and absolutely can contribute in the NBA.
Go here for a breakdown of the rest of the Pacers' Summer League roster.
Magic Free Agent Player To Watch: Donell Taylor
I'm going out on a limb with Taylor, but I'm thinking he can thrive in the Summer League system.
Taylor was one of the less heralded players in the D-League this past season after an atrocious start in which he was drafted to play point guard for the Erie BayHawks. A mid-season trade that saw him moved to the Idaho Stampede, though, put him in a better position to exhibit his strengths - and it worked.
For Idaho, Taylor was part of a three-headed backcourt (along with fellow former NBAers Andre Barrett and Coby Karl) that allowed him to run the offense on occasion, but also left him available to slash to the basket and get out and run in transition. With the Stampede, Taylor averaged 21.9 points on 49% shooting (37% from beyond the arc) while contributing 7.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals.
With Taylor's solid defense and NBA resume along with his standing out with the Stampede this past season, I'm guessing he's got a good chance of catching on with an NBA team next season.
Go here for a breakdown of the rest of the Magic Summer League Roster.
5 p.m. - Boston Celtics vs Oklahoma City
Celtics Free Agent Player To Watch: JayCee Carroll
Carroll is primarily a sweet-shooting guard, but with the way the Celtics Summer League roster is set up I'm sure he'll get a chance to show he can run the point as well.
The last time I saw Carroll play live was, coincidentally, the last game of Summer League last season in Vegas (he played for the New Orleans Hornets) - and I remember the triple-overtime affair quite vividly. In that game, Carroll got the start and scored 22 points while shooting 9-of-20 from the field and adding eight boards and two steals.
I was surprised he chose to play overseas this past season, but the stats (and the paychecks, I assume) indicate that it worked out just fine. In 50 games for Gran Canaria, Carroll averaged 17.7 points between the Eurocup and the Spanish League - with his 18.8 scoring average leading a rather competitive Spanish League.
Go here for a breakdown of the rest of the Celtics Summer League roster.
Thunder Free Agent Player To Watch: Mustafa Shakur
I really like Shakur, and the Thunder probably do too after calling him up to end the season last year, but he's still fighting for a roster spot this Summer.
Shakur is an NBA player: he has good size for an NBA point guard (6'3" without shoes), NBA explosiveness (he can get up!), excellent scoring ability (19.2 points in the D-League last season), a floor general's attitude (good leadership to go with nearly seven assists per game) and even showed that he can play NBA-type defense (to along with 2.2 steals per game) on a consistent basis this past season.
The best thing about Shakur on offense, however, is his willingness, along with his ability, to get to the rim. Rather than settling for jump shots this year, Shakur often chose to take it to the rack - something I can respect from the point guard position. That isn't to say he can't shoot, though, as he hit a respectable 38% from distance - something the former Wildcat guard isn't typically known for.
Defensively, Shakur ranked as "excellent" according to Synergy this past season - I'd concur with this. I'm terrible at telling somebody why I think a certain player is great at defense (he either is or he isn't, in my eyes), but I can tell you that he's quick enough to stay in front of almost every guard in the league and he plays the passing lanes very well in the halfcourt set.
I like his chances in the NBA for next season.
Go here for a breakdown of the rest of the Thunder Summer League roster.
7 p.m. - New Jersey Nets vs Philadelphia 76ers
Nets Free Agent Player To Watch: Garret Siler
I've liked Garret Siler for almost one full year already:
Siler, believe it or not, has Ridiculous Upside©. He's a legitimate 6'-foot-11, 300ish pound center. He's a project, definitely, but a project worth paying! Soft hands, good hustle, good instincts, rebounded well and he showed decent touch around the basket. Of course his conditioning could improve (he's 300 pounds), but he's more in shape than Sean May, so that should count for something.
Since last summer, Siler's been released by the Atlanta Hawks in vet camp (I have no idea why he stayed close to home instead of going with the more in-need Timberwolves but he did) and left the D-League without playing any games to pursue a more lucrative paycheck in China.
I really think he's going to make an NBA roster this season.
Go here for a breakdown of the rest of the Nets Summer League roster.
76ers Free Agent Player To Watch: Ndudi Ebi.
Do I really need to explain this one?