All-Vegas 1st Team
Chris Kaman: Chris Kaman was the dominant big-man in Vegas next to Dwight Howard. Kaman still plays a bit out of control, but the numbers dont lie. Kaman shot nearly 50% from the field to go along with over 9 rebounds and 19 points per game. The fact that he was the only consistent player on his team speaks highly of his production.
Kaman will have a real chance to get big minutes next season with the Clippers if he stays healthy and continues to refine his shot selection. Kaman is quick and agile for a center and if he learns how to use his skills to get to the free throw line he could be an all-star in the future. I expect him to win the starting job in camp if he can learn how to play off of Elton Brand.
Ike Diogu: Diogu had a solid week of production on a fairly deep team. Ike also chipped in the best game of the whole league by putting up 37 points and 12 rebounds in the finale (which we missed unfortunately because of our flight home). Ike averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds for the week and showed nice ability around the hoop.
Diogu should see some minutes this season because of his collegiate experience and the fact that hes a true low post player. His skill set compliments Troy Murphys outside game very nicely, although his defense needs a little work. Ikes numbers are a little inflated due to the last game, but he showed that his height wont effect him on the boards and he really doesnt need many plays run for him because he is fairly adept at cleaning up on loose balls.
Travis Outlaw: After being left for dead until a season ago, Travis finally got to show off his skill set outside the confines of the Rose Garden. Outlaws length and athleticism are off the charts for a small forward and he is the perfect compliment to Sebastian Telfair on the break. Outlaw averaged nearly 19 points and over 6 rebounds for his team, although his shooting percentage changed dramatically from game to game.
Outlaw has all the tools to be a great small forward. While Outlaws shot is inconsistent he shows a good, soft touch and really just needs to focus on getting into the proper shooting position. Having a point guard like Telfair on his team will help to give Outlaw the confidence he needs to continue to develop the rest of his game. With Portaland in the middle of a youth movement I expect that Outlaw will get as many minutes as he can handle.
Kevin Martin: Martin gets on this list because he really didnt play enough last season to warrant his absence on this list. Martin was easily his teams best player and led the team in scoring in every game while shooting 51% from the field. Martin scored 19 points per game and grabbed 5 rebounds despite being one of the lightest players in the tournament at 187 pounds.
With Sacramento re-tooling their team I expect Kevin to compete heavily for the starting shooting guard position. Martin looks very comfortable on the court and doesnt force his offense much at all. Martin knows how to get to where he wants to go on the court and has an excellent shooting touch. With Cuttino Mobley gone the competition for the 2-guard should come down to Martin and Maurice Evans, although Evens projects more as a small forward. Regardless, Martin will see significant minutes this season and should help his team when on the court.
Sebastian Telfair: Telfair gets the nod over Nate Robinson because his passing ability was unparalleled in the league. Telfair has eyes behind his head and almost never misses an assist opportunity. Although his ability to score has improved, Sebastian is a true pass-first point guard. Add to that his improved shooting and youve got an amazing player.
Telfair is the starting point guard for Portland going into this season. With the core of young talent around him and a solid supporting cast of quality veterans I could see Telfair competing for the assist title this season. As it stands now Telfair is a lock for the top 10 in assists. Telfairs shot is improving, but he must continue to work on it if Telfair ever wants to gain All-Star status. With his speed and quick decision making, Telfair could be a new Jason Kidd with just a little more time and work. He has a certain flair and feel for the game that just cant be taught at the tender age of 20 (as of last month) already.
All-Vegas 2nd Team
Jason Maxiell: Maxiell was a tough omission from the first team, but his low rebounding numbers coupled with Diogus big finish land him just below that status. Still Maxiell showed toughness on the defensive and offensive sides of the basketball. Hes a good shot-blocker and an underrated defender. No opponent that he went against had a good game when he guarded them.
Maxiell wont see a lot of playing time on a veteran Detroit front line, but Id be surprised if he didnt get a little. Jasons attitude will fit in perfectly with the Pistons veteran locker room and he should become a fan favorite in short order. Maxiell may get some minutes at both forward positions if the new coach is creative because he can play spot minutes at small forward and just bowl over the opposition with his humongous frame. The kids a player.
Ryan Gomes: Gomes was the most consistent player on the deepest team in Vegas and for that he gets himself a second team nomination. Gomes shot just below 60% from the field and almost 95% from the free throw line. Gomes averaged over 12 points and 6 rebounds despite coming off the bench and rarely having a play run for him.
Gomes has a chance to earn a spot in the rotation with a great training camp. The Celtics are a young team and Gomes collegiate experience and his overall court awareness are bound to impress the coaching staff. Ryan has the summer to really gain confidence playing at the small forward position and the more he gets used to using his smooth jumper the closer hell be to earning a spot on the court.
Linas Kleiza: Linas was a dark horse coming in but, much like Gomes, Kleiza has re-invented himself and converted to small forward. Unlike Gomes however, Linas is completely comfortable with his face up game, hardly ever going to the post at all unless he is driving from the wing. In the few times he did post, Linas showed great footwork and quick decision making which allowed him to score with ease. Losing over 20 pounds since his days at Missouri has really paid off for Kleiza, he looks infinitely more athletic now, which makes it much easier to imagine him adapting to playing full time on the wing.
Denver has a deep team and as long as Carmelo is playing there I dont see how Klieza can get significant playing time. If Denver moves one of their front court players Klieza could see some time as a 3/4 hybrid. Klieza may also play a bit of 3 when Melo shifts to the off-guard position. His game reminds somewhat of current Nuggets garbage-man Eddie Najera in terms of his energy and toughness, but he is already a more skilled player than him on the perimeter. With Kliezas feel for the game and sweet shooting stroke hell make things difficult for coach George Karl come October.
Alex Acker: Acker gets in the 2nd team because of his lethal efficiency and overall court awareness. Acker was second on his team in scoring, averaging over 14 points per game and shooting nearly 53% from the field. Ackers outside touch was outstanding and his decision making near flawless, he only turned the ball over 5 times all week. His intelligence and smooth, unselfish play will endear him to whatever coach takes over for Coach Larry Brown in Detroit in practices at least.
Alex has a tough road to climb as far as getting minutes are concerned. Id expect him to go to the D-league for a season at least. Acker may be game ready now, but hed be better off working on his skills with full playing time instead of playing 3rd string point guard and shooting guard. When Lindsay Hunter retires Acker will have himself a role. Hell have to continue to polish his man to man defense, though.
Nate Robinson: Robinson was easily the most spectacular player in Vegas and if hed had the same assist numbers as Telfair hed be a 1st team player all the way. Robinson still showed his ability to play the point and his low assist totals are more a product of the teams overall passing prowess than a lack of ability on his part. Truly, Robinson showed a surprising knack for playing the point and also displayed accuracy on his perimeter shot not seen before.
Robinson will press hard for big minutes this season because he is energetic and productive. The New York crowd will help him into the rotation as well because hell make them fall in love the first time they see him. Robinson will probably eat into Jamal Crawfords minutes this season and may force GM Isaiah Thomas to think hard about Marburys future in the near future. With his work ethic and positive attitude Id expect Robinson to be a star in New York before his rookie contract expires. Look for him to land some major endorsement deals by that point, far eclipsing whatever he will make on his rook contract. He is going to be absolutely adored in the Garden for the way he plays the game.
All-Vegas 3rd Team
Josh Powell: Powell was probably my most difficult inclusion because he really has no NBA position. Powell would make a great power 3 with his size, speed, and tenacity, but his jump shot is not good enough to warrant a wing position. Still, Powell reads the game very well and gets rebounds on the offensive and defensive ends that he has no business getting. Powell is a pure energy player who has excellent body control and great instincts. If he was 2 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier hed be worth millions. A couple more rebounds would have made Powell the ONLY player to average a double-double, he finished with 11.8 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting a solid 48% from the field. The kid gets to the line a lot to and shot a respectable 72%.
Dallas has done stranger things then play people out of position, but with Josh Howard in the mix its going to be hard for Powell to get a shot. However, I think Josh deserves a shot in someones training camp just to see if his intangibles can translate into quality NBA minutes. It may not happen often, but sometimes a player can contribute even if he doesnt fit the mold and Josh Powell forced me to pay attention to him with his excellent play.
David Lee: David Lee is a fun player to watch. He does a little bit of everything on the court and really rates highly in the intangible department. David is a 3/4 tweener, but he is smart enough and athletic enough to get quality minutes at both positions. Lees rebounding is easily his best trait. David has an uncanny ability to read caroms and because of it he grabs most of his rebounds on the offensive end, a rare feat. Lees got a good handle and is very explosive when going up for the finish, although he can lay it in with a soft touch when needed, with either hand which is extremely impressive.
David is going to get minutes in NY because his all around game is ideally suited for uptempo basketball and the other young Knicks are going to want to run a lot. Id expect Lee to get little time until Thomas figures out a way to trade all the spare parts he has on the team. If Thomas cant find deals for these players he may just put the young guns on the court anyway. Regardless, Lee is the future of Knicks basketball how far he takes it is up to him. Hell at least be a rotation guy and could do more if he fixed his outside shot.
Eddie Basden: Eddie was literally the only decent player on his team in terms of NBA potential. Eddie is not known for his offense, but put into the difficult position of team leader, Basden raised his level of play and got a contract because of it.
Eddie will get minutes on the Bulls because they need a player who can play strong defense against backcourt opponents. Basden is an ideal compliment to Ben Gordons offensive game and the two of them should really accelerate each others learning curves in practice. Basden has a superior work ethic and a great attitude, he one of the nicest players Ive ever met. If he continues to work at his jumper hell be a very solid pro in this league for years to come, his defense and smarts alone make him a player worth having around the locker room.
Chris Paul: Chris had a chance to unseat the other top point guards here, but an injured wrist kept him on the 3rd team. Paul was more impressive as the week went on. Paul is an excellent ball handler, but started the week off trying to score more than facilitate scoring. But, just as I thought I had him pegged, Chris busted out with an arsenal of passes from the routine to the spectacular which showed me all I needed to know.
Paul is instantly the starter on a very poor but upcoming Hornets team. He should be in heavy contention for rookie of the year, not just because hell get the playing time but because hell know what to do with it. Pauls got what it takes to be an excellent floor general and his offensive capabilities merely serve as a compliment to his overall floor game. Pauls defensive intensity could use a ratcheting up a little, but hes got sound fundamentals and the quickness to stay in front of his man so Im not losing any sleep over it.
Accurecruit.com will have all of the Vegas Summer League games on their site for you to view. Right now there are select games along with a great free three minute highlight clip of some of the best plays seen in Vegas. Head over to Accurecruit.com's website and check out what they have to offer. On Tuesday, July 26th the entire Summer League will be up for you to view