It was a short day of basketball, and it certainly wasn’t the prettiest day of basketball. Nevertheless, there managed to be 10 performers who, in one way or another, managed to stand out among the rest. Here they are, in no particular order.
Jeremy Lamb, Thunder
The Thunder’s second-year guard was, without question, Wednesday’s best player. He scored 32 points on just 14 shots, falling just four points shy of tying the Orlando Summer League scoring record set Tuesday by his teammate Reggie Jackson. The game seems to come so easily to Lamb that it often looks as if he’s not trying. While that was the case Wednesday, you could still see that he was being aggressive without forcing the issue, creating for himself and even for others at times. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder don’t need Lamb to score 30 a night, but even two-thirds of this production would be a welcome sight in Oklahoma City.
Arsalan Kazemi, 76ers
It was thought that Kazemi’s future in the league would be that of an undersized power forward, forever banging inside, out-hustling taller and stronger opponents for rebounds, and using his surprising quickness to step out on smaller opponents. Instead, Philadelphia has played Kazemi primarily at the three, to very good results. He’s still providing everything he would have as an undersized four -- case in point, his six points and nine rebounds Wednesday -- but his athleticism and aforementioned quickness allow him to play on the perimeter without surrendering much in terms of speed to smaller, more natural wings.
Raul Neto, Jazz
This was Neto’s Summer League debut, and the Utah Jazz should be excited by what he showed. Displaying a flair for the dramatic, Neto often tried to make the dazzling pass instead of the simple one. At times, he succeeded, such as with his fastbreak alley-oop to Chris Roberts, while at other times, he failed, as evidenced by his ill-fated attempt at a behind-the-back pass in the lane to a trailing teammate. Neto likely won’t be coming over this year, but Jazz faithful should nonetheless look forward to watching him when he does arrive.
Kelly Olynyk, Celtics
I know, I know, Olynyk again. But a list containing the best of the Summer League should contain the Summer League’s best player, and that’s Olynyk. He wasn’t flawless, missing all four of his 3-pointers, fouling seven times and accumulating five turnovers, but he displayed a nice ability to pass the ball, even if a lot of those passes weren’t converted into assists. Olynyk finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Chris Wright, Nets
Wright’s story, that of being the only known NBA player with Multiple sclerosis, is well-documented, and he is adding another chapter here in Orlando. He was undoubtedly Brooklyn’s best player, scoring 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting for an offense that was otherwise starved for points. He did have four turnovers, but he still ran the show for Brooklyn amicably. Though the Nets look to have their point guard rotation firmly set, Wright is also auditioning for every other team in the NBA, and he’s shown that he can be a contributor at this level.
Phil Pressey, Celtics
Pressey orchestrated the offense for Boston as he so often did at the University of Missouri: with complete control. His 10 assists were a team high, and he rarely attempted a pass that exceeded his skill level. However, Wednesday’s performance was a bit of a double-edged sword for Pressey. His passing acumen has never been in doubt; it’s his shooting that always worried scouts. Pressey did little to assuage those fears, shooting just 2-of-9 from the field and 0-for-2 from deep. Like Peyton Siva of the Pistons, Pressey needs to show the ability to consistently knock down the jumper if he’s to stick around.
Chris Roberts, Jazz
Offense hasn’t been an easy thing to come by this week for Utah. The Jazz broke out of their slump, due in large part to Roberts. The former Austin Toro showed both his shooting ability -- knocking down two 3-pointers -- and his athleticism, soaring for an alley-oop. He looked very good on defense as well, pressuring the ball when needed and not getting caught watching the ball as many young guards do.
Jeremy Evans, Jazz
Like Reggie Jackson, Evans really shouldn’t be playing in Summer League. Yet play he has, with his best game coming Wednesday. All game long, Evans was his usual bouncy self, elevating higher than anyone else for rebounds or dunks and never seeming to run out of energy. You could tell Evans was eager to unleash a dunk, as he tried several times to uncork upon a would-be defender. And while he did finish an alley-oop, it wasn’t of the thunderous variety we’ve come so used to seeing from him. Evans’ line of 15 points and nine rebounds should be encouraging for Jazz fans, yet they shouldn’t read too much into it, as the effort is unlikely to be replicable in the regular season.
Terrence Jones, Rockets
This is another “process” highlight, because Jones’ 3-of-12 shooting obviously doesn’t belong on a top 10 list. But Jones went to the line 14 times, knocking down 10 of his attempts. Though Jones was always capable of putting the ball on the floor, it was never really considered a strength of his game. However, as Summer League wears on, Jones continues to show an improved off-the-dribble game, to the point where driving the ball could easily become a staple of his offense. Defensively, Jones displays a versatility that allows him to wreak havoc both inside and out, and that alone should allow him to stay on the floor this year for Houston.
Steven Adams, Thunder
Adams moves extremely well defending the pick-and-roll, able to slow and disturb the ball handler enough to throw him out of rhythm. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but his 13 points showed that it’s slowly starting to click for him. Before Wednesday, Adams showed only flashes of promise. Though he played well on defense, on offense the game appeared to move too fast for him, as if he were stuck three seconds in the past compared to every other player on the floor. Against the 76ers, the game looked to have finally slowed down for Adams on both ends.