Summer League play is officially underway, and players in Orlando will be focused on proving their value against formidable competition for these next 5 days. There are a few players in particular who spent time grinding away in the D-League, but are now expected to contribute in Summer League and beyond. Who are five players that will need a solid showing to elevate their chances of sticking in The Association?
Fab Melo (Boston Celtics) - The Celtics and Danny Ainge are focused on rebuilding the Celtics organization, but will Fab Melo continue to be apart of their plans? Melo needs to prove he is capable of being the big man and difference maker that Boston hoped for after selecting him 22nd overall in last year's draft.
Against the Orlando Magic in his first game, Melo delivered a steady performance scoring 9 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. In 33 games with the Maine Red Claws (Boston's NBADL affiliate), Melo averaged 9.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks. Melo tallied just 1 block against Orlando, and will need to demonstrate his ability to deflect shots in the paint in order for Boston to continue having faith in the Brazilian.
Jeremy Lamb (Oklahoma City Thunder) - Lamb enters Summer League as a second year player for OKC, the former Connecticut standout played in 21 games for the Tulsa 66ers and averaged 21.0 points and 5.2 rebounds. Lamb was assigned ten times as a rookie, and after spending valuable time with the Thunder's D-League affiliate last season, Lamb is ready to show fans and team personnel his development.
Offensively, Lamb had arguably the smoothest jumper in the NBADL last season, and was a main factor in Tulsa making it to the second round of the D-League playoffs. Lamb will look to shed light on his complete game in Orlando, and showcase his unique ability to turn any possession into a segment for the highlight reel.
Justin Holiday (Philadelphia 76ers) - Now that his brother Jrue has been shipped off to New Orleans, Justin remains the only Holiday left on the Philadelphia roster. Holiday landed in Philadelphia at the tail-end of the season last year, after an incredible hot streak with the Idaho Stampede in the NBADL.
Holiday averaged 17.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.4 steals in 47 games for the Stampede last season, before receiving a Call-Up at the end of March. For Holiday, it is his second summer playing with the Sixers in Orlando, and the 6-6 versatile player will look to increase upon his totals (11.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in 24.9 minutes) from a summer ago.
Justin Harper (Indiana Pacers) - Harper was the third overall selection in last year's NBA D-League draft by the Idaho Stampede. Harper's stats never really jumped off the page during the 48 games he spent with Idaho, but the Richmond alum was consistent and always displayed brilliant court awareness. Harper played in 14 games with Orlando during the 2011-2012 season, can he land on an NBA roster again?
In his first contest with Indiana, Harper scored 6 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in 13 minutes. Harper will need to continue delivering solid and efficient minutes if he wants to stand out in Orlando. Physically, Harper has proven that he can matchup on the court against NBA talent, but has he rounded out his game enough for another shot?
James Mays (Utah Jazz) - In the first 26 games of the 2012-2013 NBA D-League season, James Mays averaged a double-double (16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds) as a member of the Springfield Armor. Mays was traded twice and ultimately landed in Sioux Falls where he averaged 14.4 points and 9.1 rebounds in 16 games.
Mays demonstrated his rebounding ability in Utah's first Summer League game by grabbing 6 boards in 15 minutes. Mays also dished out 3 assists and added 3 blocks in the win over Miami, and if the 6-9, 230 pound forward can maintain his balanced attack, teams will likely take notice and keep Mays in mind once training camp rolls around.