1. Las Vegas Summer League Awards
With the 2012 Las Vegas Summer League now over, it seemed fitting to give out some awards that paid tribute to summer leagues past and present. From most valuable players to guys we thought would break out with their performances to disappointing players, there's plenty of accolades to go around. Here are the winners:
Most Valuable Player
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
With a dearth of star rookie performances thanks to injuries (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, maybe Austin Rivers) and patriotic responsibilities (Anthony Davis), Lillard took summer league by storm with averages of 26.5 points and 5.3 assists per game. For the same reason Kyrie Irving was such a hit as a rookie, Lillard showed a similar game in his Las Vegas action. He got to the basket with great balance and turned heads with his ability to make plays.
Runner-up: Josh Selby, Memphis Grizzlies
Jerryd Bayless Award
(For the player who exploded at summer league but won't be a star)
Josh Selby, Memphis Grizzlies
Selby was kind of incredible this week. I'm not sure that it translates to the NBA at all because he was firing up an inordinate amount of deep shots, but he was making almost 60 percent of them. As good as he was during his time in Las Vegas, is Lionel Hollins going to allow him to be J.R. Smith in the Grizzlies' attack? That's hard to see.
Runner-up: Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns
Anthony Randolph Award
(For the player whose great summer league will be a career highlight)
Adam Morrison, Los Angeles Clippers
At this point, I'm rooting for Morrison to make an NBA roster and start realizing his dream of having a long career. He probably was never going to validate his draft position, but a knee injury early in his career really derailed everything for him. His scoring 20 points per game on 55.1 percent shooting in five games this week was nice to see.
Runner-up: Wes Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves
Gerald Green Award
(For best highlight)
Josh Selby, Memphis Grizzlies
There were times when Selby looked like he was interested in checking out the shark reef at Mandalay Bay. He was CHUCKING 3-point shots and dropping barrage after barrage throughout the week. He took more than eight shots from beyond the arc per game and ended up shooting 70 percent from there. It wasn't one big highlight but an aerial assault that couldn't be stopped.
Most Disappointing Player
Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings
Seemed like Robinson had a chance to announce his presence with authority. Unfortunately, he couldn't locate his fastball, curveball or jump shot throughout the week. He shot just 34.4 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from the free throw line. His 4.8 turnovers per game also made you wish he was taking more bad jumpers.
Runner-up: Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
Center of The Universe Award
(For most shots taken)
Byron Mullens, Charlotte Bobcats
I'm not sure who told Mullens he's Dirk Nowitzki, but he seemed to believe it. The Bobcats center took a lot of long jumpers, which might have been more disorienting to opposing teams than the full-court press Charlotte used throughout. Mullens did average 15.4 points per game, but he needed 15.6 field goal attempts per contest to achieve that.
Runner-up: Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings
Most Likely To Play Kenneth Faried In A Movie Award
Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks
A lot of things you heard around the arena and throughout the players/coaches/media section is how much Crowder looked like Faried. From the similar-looking long dreadlocks to the undersized-for-his-position assessments, the Mavs' rookie was drawing comparisons and still exceeding expectations throughout the week.
Runner-up: Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
Greg Oden Award
(For most incredible foul rate)
Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks
Sanders was given 10 fouls and he didn't really want to waste them. After fouling out in the first game, he averaged 7.3 fouls per game in his three contests. He was slaphappy and not afraid to send the message that he wasn't interested in letting guys score.
Runner-up: Chris Singleton, Washington Wizards
Most Improved Second-Year Player
Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Bobcats
Before a Timberwolves home game against the Bobcats last season, I watched the coaching staff work with Biyombo on just catching post-entry passes. He wasn't even making moves after them. He just practiced catching the ball. A few months later, he's scoring on solid post moves, finding cutters down the lane and dominating the boards. Could be a sign of things to come.
Runner-up: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Ricky Rubio Award (For person I was most excited to see)
John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
Henson is as lanky as he is awkward-looking when he's walking around a basketball court, but put him in the game and he starts making everything look graceful and destructive for his opponents. Henson was like watching a condor learn how to fly and develop a solid jumper. Condors do that, right?
Runner-up: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Jimmer Fredette Award
(For player who should be taken off summer league promotions)
Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings
People knew Jimmer was going to let the shots fly no matter what halfway through his second game and it never really slowed down. He shot just 35.8 percent throughout the week and made a lot of folks giggle whenever they saw him on the posters and murals around the arena.
Runner-up: Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (for some reason, he's on posters around the arena)
Zach Harper is the host of ESPN.com's Daily Dime Live. Follow him on Twitter.
2. Bulls' Teague Ready To Fill The Void
LAS VEGAS -- When Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL in Game 1 of the first round of this season's playoffs, the timing couldn't have been worse for the Bulls. Not only did it effectively end Chicago's 2012 season, but it's putting the upcoming one in jeopardy, as well. Rose isn't expected to return for several months and the Bulls' competition in the Eastern Conference is constantly improving.
The man tasked with righting the ship in Rose's absence is first-round draft pick Marquis Teague. The brother of Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague, the 6-foot-2 Marquis was drafted after one year at the University of Kentucky with the Bulls' 29th overall pick in June's draft. To say he has big shoes to fill would be an understatement. Teague, however, isn't fazed.
"I just want to come in and bring energy, try to defend, do whatever the coaches ask me to," Teague said after the Bulls' 113-68 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on the last day of Las Vegas Summer League.
Teague had an up-and-down week offensively. He averaged 10.2 points per game on less than 30 percent shooting from the field in five games as the Bulls went 1-4. Luckily, Teague is well aware of Tom Thibodeau's reputation and knows what will result in the most playing time during the upcoming season.
"On my team, the big thing is just defense," Teague said. "Pressure the ball and make it as tough on the offense as possible."
You can't replace an MVP in one week, that's for sure. While his numbers aren't great, Teague had specific goals in mind at the summer league.
"Just to learn the system, basically," he said. "Try to come in, defend, put pressure on the ball. Just get better."
The task is gargantuan for Teague and the Bulls, who also let C.J. Watson and John Lucas III sign with other teams this offseason: Replace an MVP and continue the winning ways of a team that has at least tied for the best record in the NBA in each of the past two seasons. Stranger things have happened and that's what Chicago fans are hoping for.
3. Harris Comes Up Big For Bucks In Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- The chances for Tobias Harris to distinguish himself on the court last season were limited. As one of the youngest players in the NBA, Harris, the Milwaukee Bucks' first-round pick in 2011, only saw brief action and found himself out of the rotation for large stretches.
"This year was a learning experience for me," Harris said.
Las Vegas Summer League has been another. Harris has flourished as a cog in a well-rounded Bucks team. The 20-year-old forward averaged 20.8 points, on 53.1 percent shooting, and 7 rebounds, good for a spot on the league's All-Star team, and showed good chemistry with incoming lottery pick John Henson.
"That's what this is all about at summer league, to come out here and play our best basketball, get better as a team, and feed off each other," Harris said. "That's what I thought we did very well."
Harris, a brawny 6-foot-8, looks like an undersized power forward and often seems comfortable on the blocks. But he's also able to step out on the wings, where Harris said he feels most comfortable, and shoot it like a small forward.
"Yeah, that's my position," said Harris about playing the 3. "So, that's what coach wants me to play, and that's what I'm going to excel at in the NBA. So that's what I'll continue to work on."
The Bucks are now chock-full of young forwards, but while summer league performances are a fickle predictor, the strengths Harris has displayed will certainly bring him closer to sustained success in the NBA.
4. Corner 3
News and notes from Day 10 of Las Vegas Summer League.
1. Jared Sullinger has a simple recipe for getting through 10 summer league games, spread out between stops in Orlando and Las Vegas.
"Ice Ice," Sullinger said. "Who was that by? Vanilla Ice? 'Ice, Ice, Baby.' That's all it's about -- ice, ice. And get your rest and eat right."
Health is obviously on the minds of most when it comes to Sullinger. But the concern is more about the long term. The Ohio State big man was medically red-flagged by NBA doctors before June's draft, according to a report by ESPN.com's Chad Ford, causing the once-lottery lock to fall to the Boston Celtics at pick No. 21.
"How's it look to you?" Sullinger said. "It look fine to me."
His numbers in summer ball back him up. After averaging 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds a game in Orlando Summer League, Sullinger finished play in Las Vegas on Sunday with averages of 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds.
2. Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard and Josh Selby, a second-year guard of the Memphis Grizzlies, were named co-MVPs of Las Vegas Summer League. Lillard, the No. 6 pick this June, averaged 26.5 points on 44 percent shooting, 5.3 assists and 4 rebounds in four games for the 4-1 Blazers. Selby, the 49th overall pick in 2011, finished with 24.2 points, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals in five games for the Griz, who went 2-3.
Lillard and Selby also headline a 13-man All-Star team that also includes Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls), Jae Crowder (Dallas Mavericks), Tobias Harris (Milwaukee Bucks), John Henson (Bucks), Dominique Jones (Mavericks), Cory Joseph (San Antonio Spurs), Jeremy Lamb (Houston Rockets), Donatas Motiejunas (Rockets), Malcolm Thomas (Bulls) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats).
3. Teams have been using a different basketball here in Las Vegas than the one used in the regular season. Instead of two straight rubber lines and two curved ones running across the leather, this ball has four curved lines, which leave a larger-than-usual space without a line in the center. (Photo here.)
The ball isn't exactly new, though. An NBA marketing official said it has been used for both the pre-draft combine and All-Star Weekend. Most players couldn't tell the difference, either.
"It actually felt better," Wes Johnson said, "because it was going in."
Justin Verrier is an NBA editor for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
5. Crowning Achievement
6. Best Of The Night
Adam Morrison, Clippers: With chants of "M-V-P" raining down on him, Adam Morrison finished his summer stint with the Clippers strong, scoring 26 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in a 92-77 win over the Celtics. In five games, the 2006 draft bust averaged 20 points.
7. Worst Of The Night
Derrick Williams, Wolves: A fitting end to a rough summer for the former No. 2 overall pick. Williams, whose name has been tossed around in trade talk, didn't exactly up his value in his finale, finishing 1-for-10 for seven points in a 97-91 Minnesota win over the Grizzlies to end play in Las Vegas.
8. Tweet Of The Night
9. Quote Of The Night
"Ice ... Ice. Who was that by? Vanilla Ice? ' Ice, Ice, Baby.' That's all it's about -- ice, ice. And get your rest and eat right."
-- Jared Sullinger, on how he dealt with playing 10 summer league games this offseason.
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