Vegas Summer League Awards

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Vegas Summer League Awards

1. Las Vegas Summer League Awards

By Justin Verrier |

LAS VEGAS -- After 11 long days spent shuffling between UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion for a total of 61 games, Las Vegas Summer League has officially come to a close. Toronto Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas was named MVP of the event, with Kent Bazemore (Warriors), John Henson (Bucks), Jeffrey Taylor (Bobcats) and Cody Zeller (Bobcats) joining him on the first team. But as a final sendoff from Las Vegas, we hand out some awards of our own.

Most Valuable Player

Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors

Unlike last year, when Damian Lillard and Josh Selby torched summer league defenses for more than 24 points a game apiece, there wasn't a true best player in Las Vegas, but Valanciunas is as close as we had. It helps to be one of the biggest and strongest players among a crowd of NBA hopefuls, but he was one of five players to average a double-double (18.8 PPG, 10 RPG), and subtle refinements in his post game foretell a bright future.

Runner-up: Kent Bazemore, Golden State Warriors

Breakthrough Performance
For the surprise standout at summer league

Dennis Schroeder, Atlanta Hawks

It's hard to notice the slender, pint-sized Schroeder among the sea of tall people roaming the halls of the Thomas & Mack Center hunting for Dippin' Dots and an NBA contract. But the rookie hailing from Germany, whom most knew little about heading into the event, turned heads and became an Internet darling through his unexpected maturity running the point and ability to set up teammates.

Runner-up: Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Clippers

Most Begrudgingly Good Performance
For the player who played well despite not wanting to be there

Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

He looked so bored. Unlike other high lottery picks from years past, the Cavs' off-guard was kept in the lineup until tournament play, and he didn't seem thrilled about it. Having said that, Waiters wasn't awful. He shot only 37 percent from the floor, but his superior slashing and scoring was especially apparent in this setting. He also played with a snarl, which broke up the long days of watching several mediocre basketball games in a row; after not getting one call late in the week, Waiters stopped dead in his tracks, glared at the referee and then ran back into the play.

Runner-up: John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks

The First-To-Worst Award
For the player with the biggest drop-off from last year's event

Josh Selby, Los Angeles Lakers

It's never good to have multiple stints at summer league on your resume. It's even worse for the reigning co-MVP to return to Las Vegas as the sixth man on an anonymous roster. No one expected Selby's torrid scoring last year to lead to much real-life success, but after being traded and then waived this past regular season, he couldn't even do that for the Lakers (2 PPG on 15.4 shooting). He'll never be as good as his talent suggests, and until he realizes that, he probably doesn't have a place in the league.

The Tyreke Evans In Reverse Award
For the first-year disappointment who showed great progress

Austin Rivers, New Orleans Pelicans

Rivers was, quite literally, one of the worst rookies in NBA history; for a player with such pedigree, both in terms of bloodlines and prep success, it was shocking to see how all-over-the-place he was in Year 1 in New Orleans. But Rivers' performance in his last game was just gorgeous -- so fluid, so smooth, so athletic. He's not a point guard, but he's too talented to bury so quickly. His performance here (18.2 PPG, 49 percent shooting, 3.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.4 SPG) was a good first step.

Runner-up: Thomas Robinson, Trail Blazers

Nate Robinson Award
For the biggest chucker at summer league

CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

McCollum may be slightly more prudent than the chucker label would indicate, but, man, did he let the shots fly. The rookie hoisted 20 shots a game, the same number as fellow Blazer Damian Lillard did last year, but he shot only 37 percent from the floor. McCollum averaged the most points (21) among players with more than two games played and should thrive as a scorer in Portland. But with Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge around, he'll have to make the most of fewer opportunities.

Runner-up: Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings; Andrew Goudelock, Bulls

Most Likely To Play Marcus Morris In A Movie Award

Quincy Acy, Toronto Raptors

He's just a really good actor.

Runner-up: Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns

Biggest Disappointment

Otto Porter, Washington Wizards

Porter should be graded on a curve given that his all-around, Uber-Glue Guy style isn't the best fit for the structure-less brand of basketball played here, but you'd still expect one of the Big East's top scorers and the highest 2013 draft pick playing in Vegas to average more points per game than Arinze Onuaku. He'll probably fare better with better talent around him, but his three games before a hamstring injury shut him down were total snoozefests.

Runner-up: Tony Wroten, Memphis Grizzlies

The Mirage Award
For the player whose performance isn't a future indicator

Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards

Three years later and Vesely is still defined by his non-NBA YouTube clips -- his overseas highlights, that draft-night smooch with his girlfriend, this. He looked good at times in Vegas, leading one longtime Wizards watcher to dub his 18-point performance against Denver one of the best of his career, and finished with a respectable 11.6 PPG and 6.8 RPG. But we've been here before; last summer league he averaged 7.4 and 5.2. Let's move on.

Runner-up: Ben McLemore (in a good way)

Most Outstanding In A Guest Spot

Nate Robinson, Denver Nuggets

The newest Nugget showed up, watched a game from courtside and signed a baby. Hard to top that kind of efficiency.

Runner(s)-up: The Phoenix Gorilla; Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks

Justin Verrier
Justin Verrier is an NBA editor at

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Great read.

Great read.

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I laughed so hard at the

I laughed so hard at the Quincy Act-Marcus Morris thing, and to top it off, he had Markieff Morris as a runner up!

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It's Twinsanity here in Las

It's Twinsanity here in Las Vegas!

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