Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Most Impressive And Suprising NBA Summer League Performances

Twitter legend and Phoenix Suns summer league hero Kendall Marshall. (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: Who has had the most impressive or surprising NBA Summer League performance?

All due respect to C.J. McCollum and the impending specter of the 2013-14 Portland Trail Blazers, but look at Milwaukee's John Henson for my most impressive vote. True, Henson is heading into his sophomore season and put together impressive numbers as a rookie, particularly against the Miami Heat. His scoring output has been tested on the NBA level and, for a big man struggling to find a consistent foothold in the Bucks' busy frontcourt, an inside-intensive performance against Denver's summer league team to the tune of 19 points, 13 rebounds and three assists could be his key to finding a regular rotation spot in the real season. Whereas McCollum is already projected as a starter and is acting as such during the summer stint, Henson's made a bigger statement about his abilities and potential to operate in the construct of a professional team.

And surprising? Kansas product Ben McLemore's suddenly happy trigger finger. Criticized for not being assertive enough during his lone collegiate campaign, McLemore's been hoisting up 20-plus shot games in hopes of shaking the perception. Unfortunately for him, most of those shots aren't falling and McLemore's looking more like a volume-gunner than the efficient jump shooter he proved he could be with the Jayhawks. This could be a case of a young player letting all the talk surrounding him change the way he plays the game rather than trying to develop one step at a time.

Reggie Jackson has been stealing the show in the Orlando league and C.J. McCollum is proving just how terrifying this Portland backcourt can be (with he alongside Damian Lillard) as he leads the Las Vegas league in scoring at 21 points per game. But the guy who has both impressed and surprised me is one who didn't have his name called on draft night, but has made a great argument for making a team this season: Jack Cooley of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Notre Dame alum, playing in the Las Vegas league, averaged 15.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in five games, with rival numbers to No. 4 pick Cody Zeller. After a slow first game of eight points and seven rebounds, Cooley has been dominant, recording a double-double in his final three games and dropping 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the other. Cooley has proven he can hold his own and should have earned an opportunity for the fall.

The most notable surprise to me this summer are the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix, after dwelling in the dungeon of the Western Conference last season, is showcasing young and talented players obtained by way of the draft and market. Phoenix has won each of their first four games and has four players averaging double-digit point totals. I've enjoyed watching Markieff and Marcus Morris, two forwards out of Kansas and the first twin brothers I've ever seen play basketball together on any level. Kendall Marshall has had moments of flash when distributing the ball, as he's averaging four assists. The Suns also completed a monster comeback to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves after being down 18. It was done in exciting fashion after a Morris twin nailed a buzzer-beating jumper at the end of regulation. Don't expect Phoenix to host any playoff games this season, but fans have some exciting young talent to watch develop and grow both as players and people. The Suns face the Toronto Raptors tomorrow in the new playoff format featured this year in Vegas. Despite the bracket's outcome they've both impressed and surprised me this Summer.

BUT, this needs to be mentioned if we're talking about impressive. 

Kent Bazemore, thank you.

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