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Orlando Summer League, Day 3 Recap

The third day of the Orlando Summer League saw the Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Brooklyn Nets take the floor. Here’s the top storylines from Monday’s action:

Reed Makes Case for Roster Spot

The star from the opening game was Willie Reed. The big man from St. Louis sparked a huge second quarter run and led Indiana to a win over Boston.
 
Reed finished the game with 18 points, 12 in the second quarter, while shooting 8-of-12 from the floor. He also added six rebounds, four blocks, and three assists.
 
“I was just thinking that I got to find a way to help my team in some way,” Reed said of his second quarter spark on NBA TV. “I got a couple of blocked shots that really got me going and then the ball just started falling in. My teammates got confidence from there and we just kept on rolling with it.”
 
Reed is entering his fourth professional season after declaring for the draft following his sophomore season. He went undrafted in 2011 but is now an experienced 24-year-old competing for an NBA roster spot. Reed spent the past season in the D-League and briefly with the Sacramento Kings, although he did not play in an NBA game.
 
At 6-foot-10, Reed has an effective low post game that allowed him to score against the likes of Colton Iverson and Kelly Olynyck. He showed the ability to operate from the low post with some effective scoring moves in addition to a couple nice passes when he drew a double team.
 
“Every time I step on the floor I look at another player and see what’s my advantage over them,” said Reed. “Most of the time it’s my quickness and my footwork, so I just try to take advantage of that. I know [Iverson] was a little bit stronger than me, so I just tried to face him up and play off penetration and pick-and-roll and it just worked out for me today.”
 
While he’s a bit of a tweener between the power forward and center positions, Reed showed the offensive talent and motor to push for a roster spot. His competitive nature would make him a good addition for the back end of an NBA roster.
 
Payton Stuffs Stat Sheet
 
Elfrid Payton struggled in his debut, but put together an all-around effort on Monday. After he was limited to two points, five assists, and four turnovers on Saturday, Payton showed why he was a ten top selection in this year’s draft.
 
The 6-foot-4 point guard finished with 12 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds against the Houston Rockets while shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. All of his shot attempts were layups or dunks, but he did a good job running the offense and frustrating opposing ball handlers.
 
Payton was simple of his goals in the summer league. “Just getting better,” he said on NBA TV. “Gaining experience and gaining chemistry with my teammates.”
 
While soft-spoken, Payton is a gamer that plays with intensity on both ends of the floor. He’ll see action as a rookie because of his defensive ability, but he’s a solid ball handler and creator at the point guard position. If he’s able to add a jumper to his game, Payton will be a legitimate offensive weapon.
 
Thunder Bounce Back
 
The Oklahoma City Thunder were expected to be one of the better teams in Orlando due to the mix of talented young players from the NBA squad and newly selected rookies, but they dropped their first two games in Orlando by a combined 32 points. They bounced back on Monday in a 98-84 win over Brooklyn.
 
Jeremy Lamb led the Thunder with a team-high 26 points. It wasn’t his most efficient scoring display, shooting 8-of-17 from the floor and a 2-of-7 from three, but he did a good job creating his own shot despite some uncharacteristic misses.
 
“We wanted to win bad,” Lamb said on NBA TV. “It’s never fun losing…so we just tried to come out and compete and play hard. It always feels good to get a win.”
 
Lamb jumped into the MVP Tracker with his performance against Brooklyn in addition to his 14-point, 5-rebound showing on Saturday. He sat out on Sunday before leading Oklahoma City to a win.
 
Another key performer was rookie Mitch McGary. The 6-foot-10 big man had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. He showed the ability to handle the ball and knock down the mid-range jumper. His body makes him a quality screener while he has the motor to crash the boards.
 
McGary dropped to the 21st pick in this year’s draft after missing most of the year with a back injury, but looks healthy and active in Orlando. There’s a chance he becomes another steal in the Oklahoma City development system.
 
MVP Tracker

1. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons (Previous: 1)
Monday’s Line: No Game
 
2. James Ennis, Miami Heat (Previous: 2)
Monday’s Line: No Game
 
3. Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets (Previous: 3)
Monday’s Line: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
 
Plumlee had a team-high 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting against Oklahoma City. It was his third game in as many games and continues to be the top player for Brooklyn.
 
4. Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: 4)
Monday’s Line: No Game
 
5. Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder (Previous: NR)
Monday’s Line: 26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals
 
Lamb debuts on the MVP tracker after leading the Thunder to their first win. His performance was discussed above.
 
Rookie Tracker

1. Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: 1)
Monday’s Line: No Game
 
2. Nick Johnson, Houston Rockets (Previous: 2)
Monday’s Line: 13 points, 5 rebounds
 
Johnson wasn’t as impressive in his second summer league game while shooting 3-of-12 from the floor, but still contributed a team-high 13 points. He’s looking confident as the primary ball handler in Orlando.
 
3. Mitch McGary, Oklahoma City Thunder (Previous: NR)
Monday’s Line: 18 points, 13 rebounds
 
After McGary was given a day of rest on Sunday, he was inserted into the starting lineup and made a huge impact. He had an OK game in the opener with eight points and three rebounds, but made his debut in the Rookie Tracker after his play against Brooklyn. His performance was discussed above.
 
4. Mike Moser, Boston Celtics (Previous: 4)
Monday’s Line: 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
 
Moser stays in the fourth spot after a solid game against Indiana. He had 11 points while shooting 3-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-7 from deep. He’s a stretch four who can shoot, rebound, and distribute.
 
5. Jarnell Stokes, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: 5)
Monday’s Line: No Game

Orlando Summer League, Day 2 Recap

The second day of the Orlando Summer League saw the Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets take the floor. A pair of Long Beach State players impressed and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued his success.

Caldwell-Pope Continues Scoring Surge

The early story from the Orlando Summer League has been the success of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The 6-foot-5 second year shooting guard topped his 26-point showing on Saturday with 30 points and 12 rebounds on Sunday.

Caldwell-Pope has shown a well-rounded scoring arsenal with a mixture of drives to the basket, mid-range jumpers, and three-pointers. He’s done a good job getting to the foul line as well, with 17 free throw attempts in the past two games.

On Sunday, Caldwell-Pope was 10-of-20 from the field and 4-of-8 from three-point range. He had four mid-range jumpers and a pair of slashing layups. His length helps him in the rebounding department and as a man-to-man defender. Caldwell-Pope was clearly the best player on the floor and as last year’s eighth overall selection, it made sense.

This is a good sign from Caldwell-Pope, who is expected to contribute as a rotational player next season. It may only be summer league action, but he looks confident as an overall scorer.

Napier and Ennis Lead Heat

After Shabazz Napier had a forgettable 3-of-15 shooting display with eight turnovers on Saturday, he got back to his old form with 17 points and seven assists against Brooklyn while shooting 6-of-12 from the floor.

“It was a tough game for me because that was actually the first game that I ever was super nervous for,” Napier said on NBA TV about his debut. “I played like I was nervous, I played like I didn’t play four years of college basketball. My teammates were just encouraging me, my coaches were encouraging me, and I just wanted to come out here after I watched the film with better effort. My biggest thing for myself was to compete on defense and that would create my offense.”

Napier looked like the player most expected to see on Saturday, with some pretty assists to go with a pair of mid-range jumpers and a three-pointer. He had a nice bounce back performance and will look to continue the success moving forward. Napier nearly cracked the Rookie Tracker, but his previous performance and another five turnovers on Sunday leave him on the bubble.

His teammate, James Ennis, was torching nets against Brooklyn. He poured in 29 points while shooting 10-of-12 from the field and 7-of-8 from behind the arc. He also had a soaring dunk in transition that highlighted his athleticism. Ennis was a second round pick from Long Beach State last season, but played overseas while expecting to return this year.

Ennis has become a serious candidate to not only make the Miami roster, but also become a bench contributor. After scoring 18 points in the opening game, he’s having a nice start to the Orlando Summer League.

Ware Sparks Short-Handed 76ers

With Pierre Jackson going down yesterday and Nerlens Noel sitting out for a rest day, second year point guard Casper Ware lifted Philadelphia to a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

A teammate with Ennis at Long Beach State, Ware went undrafted in 2012 and spent the majority of the past two seasons in Italy. At the end of last season, Ware played with the 76ers and ended up seeing double-digit minutes in the final three games of the year. He was expected to compete with Jackson for a roster spot, but is now a likely candidate to make the team.

Ware had a team-high 20 points against the Thunder, going 8-for-16 from the field and 3-for-7 from three-point range. He also had five assists and five rebounds.

At 5-foot-10, Ware lacks size, but wasn’t afraid to attack the basket and was a pesky defender. He picked up his man full court on occasions and made his opponents work. Ware had five turnovers, which he’ll need to improve, but will be one to follow. He’s a high-energy point guard who should find an NBA roster.

Undrafted Rookies of Note

Each summer league has unknown rookies step up to the level of competition and draw the attention of scouts, not only of the NBA, but around the globe. While there’s a scare amount of spots in the NBA, it should be remembered that there are plenty of opportunities to play around the world. Players may be hoping to make an NBA squad, but can still use this as an opportunity to showcase their skills to teams overseas.

Memphis had a pair of point guards play well in Scottie Wilbekin and Joe Jackson. Wilbekin didn't have a stat-stuffing game, with two points and two assists, but ran the offense well and impressed defensively. He’s a proven winner who was successful at Florida last season and will certainly have opportunities overseas. Joe Jackson, a local product who played at Memphis, had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He’s a quick floor general who can score at a high level. The undrafted duo will be fringe NBA prospects to follow in Orlando.

The Philadelphia 76ers also had two undrafted rookies who drew attention. Ronald Roberts Jr., an undersized power forward from Saint Joseph’s, had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with five offensive rebounds. He had a pair of impressive dunks to show his athleticism. He may not make an NBA roster, but should have a career playing basketball overseas. His summer league teammate, Travis Bader, also put his name out there. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard had 13 points while shooting 4-of-7 from the field. He’s an elite shooter who made the most three-point field goals in NCAA Division I history. Bader struggled keeping his man in front defensively, but was a weapon as a shot maker.

Former Fresno State guard Tyler Johnson was another pleasant surprise. He didn’t play for the Heat on Saturday, but was given 13 minutes against Brooklyn and made the most of it. He scored 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting, including a 2-of-2 showing from three-point range. It was just a glimpse, but he will be one to track the rest of the week.

MVP Tracker

1. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons (Previous: 1)
Sunday’s Line: 30 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists

We discussed Caldwell-Pope’s strong start to the Orlando Summer League above. He’s the early MVP of the event and remains in the top spot.

2. James Ennis, Miami Heat (Previous: NR)
Sunday’s Line: 29 points, 4 rebounds

After a solid performance on Saturday in which Ennis finished with 18 points (5-11 FG, 2-2 3FG) and eight rebounds, he was barely left off the MVP tracker due to a loss. But Ennis was unstoppable on Sunday, as we talked about above, and moved into the second spot.

3. Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets (Previous: 2)
Sunday’s Line: 18 points

Plumlee was not as dominant as he was on Saturday, but still scored 18 points while shooting 6-of-7 from the field. He did a good job drawing contact, yet struggled to convert and was only 6-of-12 from the free throw line. Plumlee still looked strong down low and remains in the MVP Tracker.

4. Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: 3)
Sunday’s Line: 20 points, 7 rebounds

Adams moved into the starting lineup on Sunday and continued to play well. He wasn’t draining as many threes as he did on Saturday, but impacted the game as a rebounder and defender. He was 6-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-3 from deep with seven rebounds. He showed some struggles creating his own shot, but is an elite shot up shooter who uses screens effectively.

5. Kelly Olynyck, Boston Celtics (Previous: 4)
Sunday’s Line: No Game

Rookie Tracker

1. Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: 1)
Sunday’s Line: 20 points, 7 rebounds

Adams remained in the top spot after scoring 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting. He did show some struggles creating his own shot, with three turnovers, but has been the top rookie in Orlando early on.

2. Nick Johnson, Houston Rockets (Previous: 2)
Sunday’s Line: No Game

3. Chris Crawford, Houston Rockets (Previous: 3)
Sunday’s Line: No Game

4. Mike Moser, Boston Celtics (Previous: 4)
Sunday’s Line: No Game

5. Jarnell Stokes, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: NR)
Sunday’s Line: 16 points, 12 rebounds

After scoring 10 points (5-12 FG) and grabbing five rebounds on Saturday, Stokes had a double-double on Sunday. He debuts in the Rookie Tracker due to his gritty performance. Stokes had an eye-popping reverse dunk and showed some potential as a mid-range shooter.

Orlando Summer League, Day 1 Recap

The Orlando Summer League kicked off on Saturday with all ten teams competing on opening day. While this is a good opportunity for fans to see new draft picks and fringe roster players trying make an impression, remember that this is only a small piece to the development and evaluation process. We take a look at some of the top stories and players from the day:

Plumlee Rises Above Competition

In the opening game, Mason Plumlee was absolutely dominant in a win over the Indiana Pacers. The 6-foot-11 big man is an athletic freak for his size with leaping ability and lateral quickness. He had 23 points on a good mixture of hook shots, free throws, and layups. Plumlee was an efficient 8-of-11 from the floor and 7-of-10 from the free throw line. He added seven rebounds and three steals.

“I’ve had a good summer working with [Brooklyn Nets assistant coach] Roy Rogers and we’ve been working on the offense, adding offense to the game,” Plumlee said on NBA TV after the game.

The added work showed on Saturday. Plumlee did a good job facing the basket and attacking his defender off the dribble. He had a pair of running hooks during the game, one with his right hand and another with his left, while he was also effective rolling towards the basket off the pick-and-roll.

After being named to the All-Rookie First Team last season, Plumlee looked the part in a blowout over the Pacers. He added that playing with future Hall of Famers helped his rookie season.

“They’re the best. I can’t really explain how much time Kevin [Garnett] and Paul [Pierce], those guys spent with me outside of just the games,” said Plumlee. “Whether it be talking on the plane, the bus, pregame scouting, whatever it was, those guys went out of their way for me all season and you want to live up to what they gave you. They gave me a lot, they invested a lot in me, and they expect me to improve each year. It was really a blessing to have those guys as my vets in my first year.”

Rookie Point Guards Start Sluggish

With first round picks Shabazz Napier and Marcus Smart facing off in the second game of the day, there were high expectations for the rookie point guards. Unfortunately, they did not have the start most were expecting, as both were without a field goal in the first half, but there’s still plenty of time for them to get adjusted.

Napier turned the ball over on Miami’s first possession of the game and set the tone for his debut. He had 12 points, eight turnovers, four rebounds, and two assists while shooting 3-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-9 from three-point range. Second year point guard Phil Pressey did a good job keeping Napier in check, but the rookie from Connecticut missed the types of shots he usually knocks down with ease. He’ll need to limit the turnovers, but don’t forget that last year’s Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams had nine turnovers in his first summer league game last season.

Smart played primarily off the ball with Pressey running the point for most of the game, but he had his struggles as well. The 6-foot-4 guard from Oklahoma State was scoreless in the first half, missing all four of his shots, but finished the game with 10 points, five rebounds, five steals, three assists, and only one turnover. His struggles came from behind the arc, as Smart was 0-for-5 from three-point range. He still impressed as a defender.

“He’s a great point guard,” teammate Kelly Olynyk said of Smart after the game. “In the pick-and-roll he’s good, he’s a real tough, a real competitor, I think he brings that to the team.”

Following the Napier-Smart matchup, Elfrid Payton took the floor with the Orlando Magic. The tenth overall pick had a quiet outing with only two points on 1-of-4 shooting. He added five assists, four turnovers, and three rebounds as well.

As the point guards get accustomed to the NBA setting, it will be interesting to track their growth this week. They should improve as the week progresses.

Noel Impresses In Debut

There was a much-anticipated debut from Nerlens Noel after missing the past season while recovering from an ACL tear, and the 6-foot-11 center impressed in his first action in 18 months. He finished with 19 points while shooting 6-of-11 from the floor and a perfect 7-of-7 showing from the free throw line.

“It’s been 18 months, it’s been a long, patient wait,” Noel said after the game on NBA TV. “Sitting out last season was tough, I had to be patient and learn. Watching other guys in the league like Joakim Noah, [LaMarcus] Aldridge, and other big men in the league I’ve learned a lot and have worked on my game diligently.”

Noel did a good job finishing near the basket with either hand or drawing contact to get to the free throw line. He attempted a pair of mid-range jumpers and missed both, but looked confident in his shooting stroke. While still skinny, he’s apparently added 15 pounds in the past year.

“I definitely feel a lot stronger,” Noel added. “It’s definitely wiry, I’m going to continue to put on weight and work on my body and as that comes along I feel my game will continue to evolve.”

Noel’s progress will definitely be followed over the course of the week. He’ll need to improve his rebounding as he only had two boards on Saturday. Noel looked healthy and skilled but admits he’ll need to work on getting back into basketball shape.

“It was fun,” Noel said of his first game. “I just got to work on my stamina a little bit so I can continue to play at that high level I was playing at, but that will come through two more games.”

Pierre Jackson Goes Down

The most unfortunate event from Saturday’s action was the injury of Pierre Jackson. The D-League sensation was looking to become the backup point guard in Philadelphia, but injured his right Achilles late in the first quarter after already scoring eight points. While the extent has not officially been determined, it’s likely a ruptured Achilles that will cause him to miss the majority of next season. It’s an unfortunate injury for Jackson who was more than deserving of an NBA opportunity.

MVP Tracker

1. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
Saturday’s Line: 26 points, 6 steals

Caldwell-Pope used a variety of scoring moves to score a day-high 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting. He attacked the basket, pulled-up from mid-range, and was 2-of-5 from three-point range. The shooting guard entering his second season takes the initial lead in the MVP rankings.

2. Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets
Saturday’s Line: 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals

Plumlee’s performance was discussed above, but he was an effective post presence for Brooklyn. He’s a mobile big who attacked off the bounce.

3. Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies
Saturday’s Line: 22 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, 3 assists

The rookie shooting guard didn’t start the game for Memphis, but finished 5-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range for a game-high 22 points. It was an impressive debut for the UCLA product.

4. Kelly Olynyck, Boston Celtics
Saturday’s Line: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals

An inside-out power forward, Olynyk was 8-of-17 from the floor and 1-of-3 from deep on Saturday. He’s a mismatch problem and led Boston to an opening win.

5. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Saturday’s Line: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists

Locked in a battle with Philadelphia point guard Casper Ware, Oladipo had a team-high 18 points as Orlando won its opening game. He was 6-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-4 from behind the arc.

Rookie Tracker

1. Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies
Saturday’s Line: 22 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, 3 assists

Adams was the most impressive rookie on Saturday. He came off the bench to score 22 points on 5-of-12 shooting and a 4-of-6 display from deep.

2. Nick Johnson, Houston Rockets
Saturday’s Line: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

Johnson had the highlight of the day with an emphatic left-handed dunk over a defender. He was 7-of-14 from the floor and 2-of-6 from three-point range and also contributed in other areas. The Pac-12 Player of the Year did a good job on the defensive end, giving him the slight edge over Crawford.

3. Chris Crawford, Houston Rockets
Saturday’s Line: 20 points, 2 rebounds

A pleasant surprise, the undrafted rookie from Memphis scored 20 points while shooting 8-of-13 from the field and 3-of-7 from behind the arc. He certainly raised some eyebrows, but will look to impact the game in other areas moving forward.

4. Mike Moser, Boston Celtics
Saturday’s Line: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals

Another undrafted rookie, Moser had 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and a 3-of-6 showing from three-point range. The Oregon alum is a stretch four who has a chance to find an NBA roster.

5. Roy Devyn Marble, Orlando Magic
Saturday’s Line: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals

Marble was extremely active on Saturday, always seeming to be in the right spot. He scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting while knocking down 2-of-3 three-point attempts. Marble was strong in transition and effective with his jumper against Philadelphia.

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