This year's Summer League was extremely exciting, with the Thunder finishing undefeated and pulling off a few come from behind victories in the final seconds. We got a great look at some new prospects, while checking in with familiar faces as well. The league ended rather anti-climatically, as the Rockets had basically mailed in their final day of action. But we did finish off the whole ordeal with some really stylin' Championship hats.
The remarkable thing about this year's Summer League team is that the Thunder were able to win the championship while playing their whole roster. All 15 players (aside from the injured Perry Jones) got to play a significant amount of time, and all of them managed to contribute in some way. This is a stark contrast from some other teams, like the Orlando Magic, who hardly gave non-prospects the time of day. Moreover, the team seemed genuinely interested in winning, with the whole bench standing up and cheering through the competition.
Still, the harsh realities of the NBA will set in this Fall, and the good will have to be weeded out from the bad. So, who succeeded? Who failed? All is revealed below.
19.5 PPG, 53.8% FG, 25.0% 3PT, 2.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 SPG in 23.5 Minutes
We all know what Reggie Jackson can do, so his excellent stats in two Summer League games weren't exactly shocking. But there were two very interesting notes. For one, Jackson shot the ball very well at times. During the final moments of the game against the Pistons, he hit five off the dribble long shots in a row. That should give you some sort of promise for his three ball heading into next season. Secondly, Reggie Jackson was a sub-par point guard throughout his two games. He was outshined as a distributor by Dwight Buycks, and never really did much to get his team into the game. Honestly, I really wish we could have just played Jackson at two guard and signed Buycks to play PG, but that dream is now long gone.
18.8 PPG, 39% FG, 27% 3PT, 4.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.3 SPG in 31.5 Minutes
Overall, I'd have to say that Jeremy Lamb's performance was a mixed bag. Sure, he hit game winning shots and totally dominated some games. But other times, he was clanking three after three, and getting blocked in the paint. If there's one word I could describe him as, it would be "inconsistent". It's clear that he has the talent and skill to be a basketball player, but his craftiness needs work. Time and time again, I'd see him go to the same moves, like the off the dribble three, the jump stop mid-range shot, and the basic drive to the basket. Nothing about what he did was unpredictable, so he tended to struggle against better defenders who knew what to expect. I get the impression that he's just so used to using his long arms that he's never really needed to get creative. Creativeness will come with time, though, and I think he definitely has the tools to become an excellent 6th man for the Thunder.
12.0 PPG, 66.7% FG, 5.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.7 BPG in 17 Minutes
Orton's play in this Summer League was interesting. I still have a hard time deciding whether he's better than Hasheem Thabeet or not. Orton definitely does well against smaller opponents, and can bully them inside for easy points. He also works well on the pick and roll. Defensively, he provides decent help defense, has quick hands, and did an admirable job against most of his opponents. But he tends to shrink against bigger, more skilled centers (players who he'll see a lot of in the NBA). His shot is also inconsistent beyond about 8 feet, and he doesn't have a lot of post moves to go to. I see the potential for him to compete with Thabeet for a spot next year, but I just don't think he can hold his own against a higher level of competition. That being said, I'd prefer to keep him next year.
10.8 PPG, 49% FG, 50% 3PT, 3.5 RPG, 1 SPG, 1.3 BPG
As a mid-second round prospect, Grant Jerrett's chances of making the roster seemed slim heading into this year's Summer League. But heading out of the Summer League, I really want to give this guy a chance. Obviously, he showed excellent ability in knocking down the three consistently, and getting in position to do so. Mere months after being largely ignored at Arizona, that's no small feat. He also showed admirable defensive awareness, and even showed flashes of offensive diversity during the last game. But overall, he's still got a lot of ground to make up. He was eaten up on the interior, especially by Orlando's Andrew Nicholson. Also, his ballhandling skills need a lot of work, and I'd go so far as to say that Orton can probably handle better than he does. He's not NBA ready yet, but if he continues a good rate of progress, I could see him turning out to be a Brian Cook, a Matt Bonner, or a Steve Novak.
9.5 PPG, 48% FG, 66% 3PT, 2.5 RPG, 6.0 APG, 2.0 SPG in 21 Minutes
Buycks was easily the Thunder's biggest Summer League surprise. If you saw the Thunder's team in 2011, you'd know that Buycks was an excellent scorer. But in this Summer League, he really focused on proving himself as a passer. He did a great job of getting defenders to crowd around him down low while he dished off sweet assists to the open man. He also did a great job of looking for cuts to the basket or off-ball picks near the top of the arc. Furthermore, Buycks was an excellent player in the clutch. He helped carry the Thunder to victories against the Pacers, Magic, and Pistons, delivering nearly flawless crunch time performances in each game. All in all, he would have been a great signing, but the Raptors snapped him up before he could even play on Friday. Yes, the Thunder still haven't signed a Free Agent.
9.0 PPG, 60% FG, 6.5 RPG, 1.3 BPG in 27 Minutes
The Thunder's big Kiwi prospect turned out to be just that; a prospect. He's clearly got to do some polishing on all aspects of his game, and I really doubt he'll get any playing time this year. But what's promising is how well he managed to play some more experienced bigs. He held his own against O'Quinn and Plumlee, not shrinking in the face of competition. He also showed different areas of his skillset in each game, like his strength, speed, and developing skills. All in all, he's a guy who can be molded into a very diverse center, and could seriously take the league by storm in a couple of years. But he's got a loooong way to go.
7.8 PPG, 40% FG, 55% 3PT, 1.6 RPG in 15 Minutes
This guy probably emerged as the best pure shooter on the team. He could hit clutch threes with ease, and was semi-reliable at scoring throughout the competition. Problem is, he brings nothing else to the table. He missed way too many short jumpers. He didn't move too well within the offense. He had no ballhandling or passing ability. He hardly rebounds. And his defense didn't really stand out to me. I can see that his skills had progressed a bit since he was at Louisville last year, but there's a ton of guys with his skillset trying to get into the NBA.
6.0 PPG, 35.7% FG, 25% 3PT, 1.0 RPG, 2.7 APG in 20 Minutes
Decent at everything, but good at nothing. That should be Tony Taylor's motto. I don't mean to hate on the guy, because on a normal Summer League team, he wouldn't look that bad. But when slotted up with Reggie Jackson and Dwight Buycks, he just wasn't on their level. He couldn't get his team as involved, and he wasn't as effective as a scorer. He did have a few nice plays though, and he should probably return to Tulsa next year.
5.5 PPG, 33% FG, 1.0 RPG in 11.5 Minutes
As it stands, Michael Snaer has a great future as a scorer for some average European team. But until he learns what a good shot and a bad shot is, I don't see him going anywhere in terms of the NBA. He has the skills and athleticism to be a decent pure scorer, but he doesn't have the knowledge to be consistently effective. His ineffectiveness in the Summer League would only carry onto higher levels twofold.
4.8 PPG, 47.4% FG, 8.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG in 24.5 Minutes
The man can do everything but score. He's an excellent rebounder for his size, frequently going toe to toe with the Summer League's finest for decent boards. Defensively, he can shut a defender down and use his long arms to steal a pass here or there. The only problem is his offense. He's athletic enough to make it work, and I saw him make a few great-looking layups, but he had a hard time becoming part of the larger offensive scheme. He didn't have plays drawn for him, and was always the last option on the floor not named Liggins. It might be hard to break his habits at the ripe old age of 21, but if he could slot himself into some sort of offensive role, I could see him replacing Sefolosha as soon as next year. (You know, when we can't afford Thabo anymore.)
3.6 PPG, 40% FG, 2.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG in 14 Minutes
Though I don't think he has the talent to make it to the NBA, Ron Anderson is an excellent glue guy. He works well as an offensive outlet in the post, will fight for rebounds, can score over those smaller than him, and does a passable job defensively. Heck, he can even hit a short jumper once in a while. The athleticism and finesse a big man needs just aren't there though, so I'm willing to bet he'll spend next year in Tulsa.
3.0 PPG, 18.2% FG, 33% 3PT, 2.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.0 SPG in 23 Minutes
Without a doubt, the most disappointing performance from this Summer League came out of DeAndre Liggins. I know that defense is hard to quantify and that he filled the stat sheet, but he needs to do something about his offense. His three point shot continues to be a work in progress, and his driving skills are worse than Thabo's. However, with Buycks having left the Summer League and Jackson rested for good, Liggins did get a shot at playing second string point guard during the last game. He did a good job passing the ball, finding Orton and Adams in the post, but he still wasn't a threat to score and wouldn't be nearly as effective against NBA teams. Liggins will be back next year, no doubt. But I don't think he'll be anything more than a spot defender, as much as we all like his hustle. The scary thing is, he's probably the Thunder's best option at third string point guard. You know, other than that Fisher fellow....
2.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG in 7.5 Minutes
I'll be honest in saying that I don't remember a ton about Andrew Smith, other than his ankle injury that temporarily hampered his ability to walk. He was on the court the next day, but his impact was minimal. At his age, I don't know what options are open to him, but I think he'll see a few runs on lower-tier European teams.
1.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG in 12 Minutes
Kind of odd that a former member of the roster would average the fewest points, isn't it? Ryan Reid was a last second addition after the injury of Perry Jones III was revealed. Reid's skills are already out in the open, so it makes sense that the Thunder wouldn't care to see much of him. Still, Reid works excellently as a team's post presence, and can be a better scorer on a lower level. I'd probably punch him in as a more refined Ron Anderson, but still as a guy who doesn't necessarily have the skills for an NBA roster. With the money offered in Europe, it's hard to see him go back to Tulsa, but it was nice to see him get some burn one last time.
What did you think of the Thunder's Summer League performance? Let us know in the comments!