2007 NBA Summer League: Top Players
By Darryl Aubrey
1. Louis Williams 6'2 PG Philadelphia 76ers
When Williams entered the '05 NBA Draft out of high school, I said that it was going to be at least three years before he would be ready to contribute to a team in the NBA. Well this is going to be his third year and after his performance in Vegas: He is ready. Once labeled a "shoot first, second and pass third" kind of point guard, he showed that he can find teammates in transition and the half-court and still get his shots. No one could stay in front of him. Extremely creative with his handle, can get anywhere on the floor, can also take the contact and finish. Was the leading scorer (25ppg, 5rbs, 5a.) outside of Marcus Banks 42 points in just one game played.
2. Marco Belinelli 6'6 SG Italy
Those who follow international hoops knew all about Belinelli way before the Vegas Summer league. But for the casual fan who simply came to see some NBA basketball...they saw something amazing. This baby-faced Italian kid looked confident from the opening tap. A slick control to his game, can score in a variety of ways, but what was most impressive was his "SWEET" stroke from deep. In his very first game he erupted for 37pts and never looked back. Averaged 22.8 ppg, good for 5th overall. Will definitely contribute for the Warriors right away, he's just 21 but has the smoothness of a 30 year old. His International experience gives him a leg up on the rest of the rookie class.
3. Nate Robinson 5'9 PG New York Knicks
The Knicks went 5-0 with what had to be considered the most talented team. Nate was all over the floor, both offensively and defensively. He pushed the tempo, found open teammates, scored in a variety of ways and was the unquestioned leader of the team. He was named MVP of the Vegas Summer League and deservedly so. There were several other players who had better numbers statistically, but Nate controlled the tempo in every game and put on a show.
4. Randy Foye 6'3 PG Minnesota Timberwolves
Foye had another tremendous summer in Vegas on the heels of earning MVP Honors last summer. Penetrated at will, finished at the glass, found the open man and this summer added the long ball to his game shooting 53% from downtown. Should have a solid season running the show for the T'wolves. Was 14th in scoring at 18.4 ppg.
5. Aaron Brooks 6'0 PG Houston Rockets
Aaron was very impressive in Vegas. Averaged 21.4ppg and 5.2a per game. Tremendous speed, quick change of direction, decent vision and a solid stroke from the perimeter made him a threat everytime he touched the ball. Brooks finished 7th in scoring leading Houston to a 4-1 record and winning the Vegas Rookie of the month Award.
6. Juan Jose Barea 5'10 PG Dallas Mavericks
Both the Mavericks and the Knicks went 5-0 in Vegas. The Knicks got athletic activity from their PG but the Mavericks got smart and steady decision making from PG J.J. Barea. Not only did he look like the smartest player on the floor, but at times, he looked liked a best player on the floor. He always made the right pass and hit the big shot. He averaged 14.4ppg and 6.2a per contest. He was listed at 6'0 in the media guide…but trust me, he's barely 5'10.
7. Craig Smith 6'7 PF Minnesota Timberwolves
Still an undersized power forward, but still showed that he has the power advantage that helped him dominate in college. Solid around the basket with a variety of post moves, really benefited from having Randy Foye's creativity at the point. Would love to see him dominate the glass more, but he had a great showing in Vegas.
8. Kevin Durant 6'9 SF Seattle Supersonics
Kevin struggled early in Vegas but as the week went on he got more confident and aggressive. Early on he settled way too much for the deep jumper. As the week progressed, he started to use the bounce to get to the glass, he went to his post up game more and when that wasn't there, he showed his range. Will certainly struggle at times, but should have a bright rookie season for the Sonics. Finished fourth in scoring at 24.0 ppg but shot just 33.3% from the floor.
9. Javaris Crittenton 6'4 PG Los Angeles Lakers
Javaris was surprisingly solid and consistent. Totally outplayed the Lakers other PG (Jordan Farmar). Was using his slick handle to create for teammates, got to the glass and finished with ease, but what surprised everyone was his ability hit the outside shot with consistency. The Lakers run an offense (the triangle) that doesn't require a dominant PG, so it will be interesting to how prominently Javaris will fit into the Purple n' Gold his rookie season.
10. D.J. Strawberry 6'5 G Phoenix Suns
You heard it here first…”the steal of the draft”. D.J. was the 59th player selected in the June draft. He had an excellent showing in Vegas averaging 15.6ppg and 6.4a playing out of position at PG. He pushed the tempo, penetrated and kicked out to open shooters in the half-court and finished at the rim with big time athleticism. But as good as he looked offensively, his defense was better. He'll make Phoenix a better defensive team, and should contribute right away. Very versatile, Can play and guard three positions on the floor. Will make the roster!
11. Von Wafer 6'6 Denver Nuggets
An athletic wing scoring guard who still struggles with shot selection. But fortunately for him, his shots were hitting nothing but net in Vegas. He averaged 24.2 ppg in 26 minutes per contest. He also shot 53% from the field and 44% from downtown. He had a 42 point explosion in a loss to the Knicks. With his athleticism, should be a better defender and rebounder. Could be on a NBA roster by mid-season.
12. Rodney Stuckey 6'5 SG Detroit Pistons
I must admit…I heard a lot about him, but I had never seen him play before Vegas. WOW… A player. Can get his shot anytime and any way he wants. Strong with the bounce, Solid stroke, gets to the rim, can finish and plays defense. Detroit has found themselves a player.
13. Anthony Roberson 6'2 PG New Orleans Hornets
A very creative handle that allows him to create space for his sweet stroke, has now added a mid-range jumper to his game, and when he wants to…he can find open teammates in transition or the half-court. Will definitely be on a teams roster when the season begins. One of the lone bright spots for the sturggling Hornets team.
14. Al Thornton 6'8 SF Los Angeles Clippers
Statistically, his numbers were not impressive 17.6ppg on 37% shooting from the field and a dreadful 25% from downtown. But his athleticism and activity were “jaw dropping”. Shot selection was awful in a couple of games but when “Big Al” took his time and let the game come to him, took the easy pull-up Jumper and made the smart pass he looked like the best player on the floor. A highlight reel waiting to happen.
15. Rudy Gay 6'8 SF Memphis Grizzlies
Gay is just one of those players you love to watch solely because his game is so smooth and versatile. His skill set is tremendous. A slick and creative handle, picturesque form on his jumper, can get his shot from anywhere on the floor, gets to the rim and can finish with “off the charts” athleticism. Didn't shoot all that well in Vegas but still finished averaging 18.2ppg and 5.6 rbs. With the cloudy future of Pau Gasol, could be the “go to” guy by seasons end.
16. Renaldo Balkman 6'8 SF New York Knicks
Was scritinized heavily when he was selected 20th but is fast showing that he was a worthwhile selection. Balkman's ability to rebound and defend make him a tremendous glue player. He's also a terrific passer with a gregarious personality.
17. Spencer Hawes 7'0 C Sacramento Kings
Didn't have a bad showing in Vegas, but a 7'0 footer shouldn't shoot 44% from the field, only getting 5 rebounds per game and only took 7 free throws in 5 games while getting 33 minutes per contest. Tremendous skill set but would love to see him more active. Despite that he imporved as the games went on, and shows a lot of promise.
18. Will Blalock 6'0 PG Denver Nuggets
This may seem like a surprise having Will in the Top 20, but there was a reason why the Nuggets averaged over 100 ppg. The Nuggets two PG's Will Blalock and Dontaye Draper from the College of Charleston were excellent. They pushed the tempo in every contest, penetrating at will, finding open teammates and wreaking havoc on defense. Blalock averaged 10.2 and 3.4a while surprising Draper averaged 8.4, 3a and went 6-10 from behind the arc.
19. Alando Tucker 6'6 SG Pheonix Suns
At Wisconsin, Tucker played in a motion offense that relied on screens and ball movement, so you really couldn't see what he could do with the ball in his hands. Well in Vegas, Alando showed that he can create space using the bounce, allowing him to get to the rim and finish with his tremendous explosivness. Averaged 17.4 ppg but he did struggle from behind the arc shooting 18%. A decent defender that should get some minutes in the desert.
20. Rodney Carney 6'7 SF Philadelphia 76ers
Carney showed his improving offensive game in Vegas. His stroke from downtown, midrange game, track-athleticism at the rim and got the free throw line. Averaged 17.6 per contest and should be ready for extended minutes in Philadelphia.
LaMarcus Aldridge 6'11 C Portland Trailblazers
Amir Johnson 6'8 SF Detroit Pistons
Kyle Lowry 6'0 PG Memphis Grizzlies
Hilton Armstrong 6'11 PF New Orleans Hornets
Nick Young 6'6 SG Washington Wizards
Jeff Green 6'9 SF Seattle Supersonics
Wilson Chandler 6'8 SF New York Knicks
Aaron Afflalo 6'6 SG Detroit Pistons