Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 players from Day 5 of the Orlando Pro Summer League:
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Drummond, simply put, feasted on Miami’s smaller frontcourt, using his girth to establish position deep and his unfair athleticism to slam down a few alley-oops. He posted 23 points (albeit on 23 shots), 18 rebounds (an Orlando Summer League record), 2 blocks and 2 steals in a great all-around day for the Pistons’ starting center. The only player able to bother Drummond was Jarvis Varnado, whose shot-blocking ability allowed him to compete with Drummond’s sheer mass. Otherwise, Miami simply had no answer for Drummond’s massive frame, evidenced by his record-setting day on the glass.
BJ Young, Rockets
Summer League is an opportunity for those who fell so far after rising so high to start climbing the ladder once more. Young, once considered a first-round pick during his days at Arkansas, saw scant minutes (and production) in Houston’s first two games. Today, in extended minutes, Young had his best showing in Orlando, with 15 points and four assists. His ability to get into the lane was a huge boon for Houston, as was his constant pressure on defense.
Solomon Hill, Pacers
Last season, the Pacers were 15th in the league in 3-pointers attempted but just 22nd overall in 3-point percentage. This greatly affected their effective field goal percentage, which also ranked 22nd overall. Hill, if he gets playing time this season, should be able to help in this area. He’s 10-of-15 from deep in Orlando, including 4-of-4 in today’s game. Don’t think Hill is content to just float around on the perimeter, though. His activity level is constant, and he has shown a great ability to move without the ball and create openings for himself.
Jerel McNeal, Jazz
This was just the second game for McNeal, but he has performed admirably in each. He brings a certain toughness to the entire defense that disappears when he leaves the game. He’s tremendous at pressuring the ball, using both his quickness and his compact yet strong frame to bother both point guards and shooting guards alike. McNeal also does a great job of staying within himself and his responsibilities; he knows Burke is the starting point guard and the focal point of the offense, but he’s more than capable of running Utah’s offense when Burke heads to the bench. Really, McNeal’s points were just an added bonus on top of everything else he brought to the Jazz.
Jarvis Varnado, Heat
As I mentioned when discussing Andre Drummond, Varnado was the only player able to disrupt the massive Drummond. Though he’s slight of frame, Varnado has two assets that make him a threat on defense: his athleticism and his supreme sense of timing. Some players block shots simply because they’re tall or long (see: Gobert, Rudy). Not so for Varnado. He has been a fearsome shot-blocker since his days at Mississippi State, and continues to be for the Miami Heat’s Summer League team. He blocked three shots today and bothered countless others.
Peyton Siva, Pistons
The diminutive point guard from the University of Louisville continues to show there’s a place in the league for his disruptive defense and command of offense. His pesky pressure on the ball resulted in seven steals, by far a game high. Meanwhile, on offense, Siva recorded nine assists, compared to just two turnovers. His court vision, especially on the break and in situations in which the offense is spread out, is truly impressive. Unfortunately, the one blemish continues to be his shooting, as he shot just 4-of-11 on the day. He injured his ankle near the end of the game, so his status for tomorrow’s finale is uncertain.
Victor Oladipo, Magic
Fellow Magic (Magician?) Maurice Harkless put the team in position to win the game, driving to the lane for a layup that brought the Magic within one. It was the Magic’s prized rookie, Oladipo, who would lead them to victory. Philly’s Arsalan Kazemi rebounded his own blocked shot, but had the ball stripped by Kyle O’Quinn. Oladipo, upon receiving the ball, raced down the court, stopped just above the key, sized up his opponent, elevated and sank the game-winning jumper. It was a moment of tremendous poise for such a young player, and it capped off what was already a great all-around game of 24 points, 6 assists and 3 steals.
Arnett Moultrie, 76ers
The Magic lost the battle of the boards, getting thoroughly dominated on the offensive glass by the 76ers. Key to this domination was Philly’s second year forward out of Mississippi State. Moultrie snared eight offensive boards, outworking the likes of O’Quinn, Romero Osby and Andrew Nicholson down low. His rebounds, 12 in total, were an excellent complement to his 23 points, scored both down low and from midrange. Moultrie’s had an up-and-down Summer League, but today was perhaps his best game, giving him solid momentum heading into the final frame.
Andrew Nicholson, Magic
Nicholson’s shot hadn’t been falling for him for the majority of the week, but he regained his touch today, shooting 9-of-15 for 23 points. Specifically, his midrange game looked to have regained its usual potency, finding nylon where before it found only iron. Also of note is Nicholson’s improved frame. His added muscle allows him to establish deeper position down low, bully his opponents on the block and catch the ball in more ideal situations. His rebounding, or rather lack thereof, was still concerning, as he was beat badly on the boards, but it’s just a blemish on an otherwise solid day.
Michael Carter-Williams, 76ers
Carter-Williams, up until today, was one of the worst performers in Orlando. His field goal percentage for the week hovered around 25 percent, which is downright horrible. More than once he’s complained to the referee rather than run back on defense, and has attempted many a jumper with many a miss. Today, however, was a different story. Though he did have eight turnovers, he also had nine assists, and would have had several more had his teammates been able to convert some easy looks. He looked much more in control, much more mature, and much more like the type of player he should look to be: pass-first, and scoring only when the opportunity presents itself.