The NBA Summer League, it is the land of opportunity, but also a proving ground for many players. In the summer league, you will see three types of players: ones who are high picks getting adjusted to the NBA, others who were playing in the G League the previous season, and players who are on the cusp of becoming an NBA player.
When it comes t guard Vander Blue, he falls into the last two categories. Blue, who was named the G League MVP this past season, has been setting the world ablaze in the NBA's minor league circuit. He has showcased a vast array of skills and athleticism that leave you wanting more.
However, he also falls into that last category I mentioned, which is being on the cusp of making an NBA roster. For Blue, you could make the case that he deserves to be a part of a 15-man NBA roster over these last few years, but the cards have not been in his favor.
This past season, the G League MVP averaged 24.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 34.8 minutes per game for the then Los Angeles D-Fenders.
Throughout his pro career, Blue has consistently demonstrated his knack for scoring points and getting to the basket. It does not matter if it's the G League or summer league. If there is a hoop and a basketball, Blue will attack.
Even if he is having a bad shooting night, that will not deter Blue from shooting. He has no fear of taking the last second shot, which he did a lot this past season in the G League.
With that being said, Blue has continued to show off his aggressiveness and scoring prowess in this year's edition of the Las Vegas Summer League.
Currently, the Marquette University product is averaging 15 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3 assists in 27.4 minutes per game. He is also shooting career summer league best 50 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three-point range.
Even though his field goal percentage is good, his three-point shooting has been impressive this summer in comparison to his other years in the summer league. As I mentioned, he is shooting 41 percent from the distance on 3.1 attempts per game.
Nevertheless, with Blue playing at a high level in Las Vegas, a lot of Laker fans are clamoring for the team to sign him.
The Lakers can technically do this since they've reportedly only used one of their two-way contracts on point guard Alex Caruso. If you missed Dakota Schmidt’s breakdown on Caruso, check it out here.
However, it feels as if we've been down this road with Blue before. He plays well in the G League, does his job in summer league, but ends back up in the G League.
Blue’s curious case reminds me of Pierre Jackson, who has played exceedingly well like Blue but still cannot get that elusive NBA contract. But unlike Blue, Jackson has taken his talents overseas over the course of his pro career.
Therefore, what is the hold-up on Blue getting his chance? Could it be that he is not a prototypical shooting guard in the NBA? When you watch him play with the then LA D-Fenders, more often than not the ball is in his hands and he is creating offense.
This is telling as he only had an assist percentage of 13.01, which is considerably low compared to the last two seasons, where he had percentages of 15.11 (2015-16) and 21.39 (2014-15).
In the NBA, Blue will not be asked to initial the offense in most cases. Instead, it will be his job to play off the ball. To his credit, Blue has shown in summer league that he can do it, but can he do it on a consistent basis? This is a question only Blue can answer.
Another thing that could scare NBA teams away from Blue is his streaky shooting. We've seen in the G League that he can put up points in a hurry, but will have games where he flat-out struggles.
In fact, you can go check out his stats from this past season and you will see many games, where he has taken plus 20 attempts from the field but his field goals made don’t even register into the double digits.
Or could it be his defense? This past season with the D-Fenders, Blue sported an 112.1 DRtg, which is not particularly good. Also to his credit, Blue has improved on his defense in the summer league with a 107.6 DRtg.
In the NBA, it does not matter how good of a scorer/shooter you are. If you can't play defense, then you are just another guy.
To wrap up, it is still surprising to see Blue without an NBA deal. He has proved himself in the G League and continues to do so in the summer league. However, one wonders what keeps him from the Holy Grail of the association.
Is it because teams see him only a scorer and nothing else? It is without question, that Blue has the talent to be in the NBA, it's just a matter of time and who will give him the opportunity to succeed.