DraftExpress All-Summer League: Third Team

DraftExpress All-Summer League: Third Team
Aug 01, 2007, 07:56 pm
Louis Williams, 6-1, Point Guard, Philadelphia 76ers, 1986
24.6 points, 4.7 assists, 5.44 turnovers, 4.1 rebounds, 1.77 steals, 51.5% FG, 37% 3P, 33.2 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Going into his third summer league after entering the draft straight out of high school, Louis Williams needed to have a strong performance to show that he is continuing to progress as a player despite the lack of playing time he’s seen with the 76ers. That was accomplished for the most part in Vegas, even if there are obviously many kinks he still has to iron out in his game. Williams had easily one of the most impressive summer leagues of any NBA player, finishing 2nd in the scoring column, behind Marcus Banks who only played one game. Williams showed that he can put points up on the board in this type of setting, and that regardless of who is matching up with him, scoring is something that comes very naturally for him.

Williams’ biggest draw revolves around his outstanding athleticism combined with his fantastic offensive instincts. He has great quickness, an awesome vertical leap for a 6-1 player, and an explosive first step—being better going right, but also having no problem going left when the situation calls for it. More than just a run and jump type athlete, Williams is extremely hard to stay in front of because of how strong his hesitation moves are. He jukes his defender left and right and back and forward to keep him off balance and then explode to the basket, usually finishing the play with a strong dunk. The fact that he got to the free throw line 108 times in 9 games (an astounding 12 attempts per game) is strong evidence of that. He also happened to convert 80% of those.

Williams made a living getting to the free throw line, but he also showed the ability to score from behind the arc and everywhere in between too. He has a very nice shooting stroke once he’s in rhythm, and is very much adept at pulling up sharply off the dribble and knocking down a shot with a hand in his face. The 76ers ran infinite pick and roll plays again and again and again with Williams at the helm, and he for the most part did an excellent job breaking apart the defense to score on his own or find the open man. Going underneath the screen isn’t an option with him running the point--he’s not a lights out NBA 3-point shooter at this point, but he definitely has a lot to work with if he continues to work hard on his shooting range and footwork.

So with that said, you may be asking yourself why he only finds himself on our third team? As you might imagine, Williams showed off quite a bit of weaknesses in the nine games or so that he played in, many of which made it quite obvious why he has yet to break through as a solid NBA rotation player.

The most obvious would be his decision making. At 6-1, Williams will most likely not be able to make a living purely as a scorer. The fact that he averaged 5.4 turnovers per game compared with his 4.7 assists tells a lot about where he stands at the moment as far as his point guard skills go.

Williams’ shot-selection can be extremely poor at times. On more than one occasion he brought the ball up the floor to start Philadelphia’s offense and launched up a long-range shot before anyone on his team even had a chance to touch the ball in the flow of the offense. Williams can struggle once his team’s half-court sets break down too—he takes too many unnecessary risks with the ball in his hands, trying to be too flashy threading the needle with impossible passes, or trying to split a double team wildly if the defense collapses on him on a trap guarding the pick and roll.

Playing a year or two college basketball really could have helped him iron out many of the little kinks he has in his game—mainly stemming from the lack of experience he possesses playing meaningful basketball in a competitive setting. At times he’ll pull up off the dribble when he has an open lane to slash, over-penetrate the hoop jumping in the air and only then deciding what to do next, or just drive down the lane with his head down and a full head of steam. This worked very often in summer league because of the lack of NBA athleticism that most of the big man possessed—but these types of moves would be swatted away without mercy if he tried them in a real game.

Learning how to read defenses, see the floor and his teammates better and not rely so heavily on his athleticism will be the key in him reaching his extremely high ceiling. He really has tremendous scoring instincts, but most coaches not named Don Nelson will want to reel him in significantly if they are going to allow him to run their offense.

We haven’t even started talking about his defense…which might be the weakest part of his game right now. Not having great length, height or strength, Williams is always going to struggle against most NBA matchups—but he doesn’t help himself out at all with the way he lets players score all over without putting up much of a fight. Guys shoot over him like he’s not there, push him around in the paint, and just get right by him off the dribble. He’s not a presence at all defensively in terms of containing his man, and for the most part doesn’t seem to always compete that hard on this end.

Williams has the potential to develop into a terrific NBA player without a doubt, but he’s still a long ways away from getting there.

Von Wafer, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Denver Nuggets, 1985
24.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 54% FG, 44% 3P, 79% FT, 27 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Wafter was one of the most effortless scorers seen in the Las Vegas Summer League, in fact tying the record set by Marcus Banks by putting up a 42 point effort in his last outing against the Knicks. Wafer might have been the best pure shooter seen here in Vegas, backing up his awesome 45% accuracy rate from the D-League (which is NBA range). He is fantastic coming off screens on the catch and shoot, sporting effortless mechanics, setting his feet perfectly, and showing great touch. He has range that extends well beyond the NBA 3-point line, and he showed this consistently every time he played or warmed up. Give him a second to set his feet and square his shoulders (it doesn’t even really take that long) and he’s almost automatic with his feet set. Coming off a screen, Wafer creates separation extremely well, which helps him tremendously in terms of getting his shot off. Lackadaisical off ball summer league defenses he saw here also played in a small part here, as after a full season in the D-League, he’s clearly mastered the art of stat-padding.

Wafer’s potential goes beyond his terrific shooting ability, though. He is also a fantastic athlete, sporting an excellent first step, and being very explosive getting off his feet. He’ll wow you at times with a monster dunk or two, but is still unable for the most part to fully take advantage of his tremendous gifts. The reason for that lies in his poor ball-handling skills, as the ball just plain and simple slows him down. This also limits his effectiveness finishing around the basket, as by the time he gets into the paint, he’s not in good enough control of the ball to finish in traffic.

Even though Wafer is clearly a fantastic shooter, he is nowhere near as good when he’s forced to put the ball on the floor and pull-up off the dribble. His mid-range game needs a lot of work, and expanding his game could be the difference between being a marginal NBA player to a legit rotation piece. He doesn’t get to the free throw line nearly as much as a guy with his physical tools should, even if on paper he’s an outstanding athlete. He also doesn’t contribute enough in the other departments of the game (3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists), showing very little commitment to staying in front of his man on the defensive end, and not putting much effort into fighting through screens. In general, he showed a real lackadaisical approach to playing defense in summer league, which has to be a bit of a concern considering that he’s trying out for an NBA job. We’d be remiss not to mention the fact that he tends to shoot absolutely everything that comes his way. As a pure catch and shoot finishing specialist that might be OK, but if he’s to expect to carry more responsibilities on the offensive end, he must do whatever he can to shed the selfish tag that he’s rightfully earned with his shot-selection.

Despite the negatives mentioned above, Wafer is obviously an NBA player in terms of pure talent. As is often the case, though, it takes a bit more than that. Off the court he’s had issues starting in high school, and college, so continuing to maintain a mature, professional attitude will be essential for him moving forward. Wafer definitely deserves to be on an NBA roster next year and has the ability to carve out a nice niche for himself as he continues to expand his game.

Jared Dudley, 6-7, Small Forward, Charlotte Bobcats, 1985
12.6 points, 7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.60 steals, 59.5% FG, 50% 3P, 64% FT

Jonathan Givony

Limited early on by foul trouble and sparse playing time before we arrived in Orlando, Jared Dudley seemed to have saved his best for the final three games that we personally took in after arriving from Las Vegas. We saw one of the most skilled and confident rookies of any of the first round picks, a player who looks ready to step in and get serious playing time from day one with the Bobcats.

If you saw Dudley play in college, then you have a pretty good idea of how he played in the summer league as well. The only differences would be in the way his body looks and the fact that he’s expanded his shooting range considerably over the past 3-4 months. Dudley has lost at least 20 pounds since his BC days and is now in absolutely phenomenal shape. This has helped his lateral quickness considerably, and he indeed did a fine job throughout the camp defending the small forward position with his typical intensity and fundamental play. Putting the ball on the floor, Dudley looked noticeably quicker in his initial first step, and is now more adept at getting off the ground and finishing thanks to his improved leaping ability and body control. If the lane was too clogged, Dudley showed no problem pulling up off the dribble for a mid-range jumper, or hitting a spot-up 3-pointer from NBA range. To round out his game, Dudley also contributed his typical toughness and intensity on the glass.

It will be interesting to see if Dudley will be able to crack Charlotte’s rotation this year, since they could very well be the most stacked team in the NBA now at his position. Dudley will have to show that he can defend NBA caliber small forwards to do so, as well as display his improved perimeter shooting stroke once training camp begins.

Jason Maxiell, 6-7, Power Forward, Detroit Pistons, 1983
15 points, 5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 0.8 assists, 3 turnovers, 54% FG, 76% FT, 27 minutes

Matt Williams

Of all the players that participated in this year’s Summer League, it would be difficult to say that Jason Maxiell was not the most aggressive on the offensive end. Few players really try to dunk everything around the rim, but Maxiell comes very close to living that adage; attempting to punish the rim at every opportunity. Though he didn’t finish all of his dunk attempts, he showed an admirable level of relentlessness that should serve him well this season in Detroit on the glass and in the paint.

Outside of the dozen dunks he threw down, Maxiell showed impressive touch and improved footwork when working with his back to the basket. Maxiell has the quickness to get by his man when facing up, and used this to his advantage throughout the Summer League by using spin moves to create space for jump shots. Though he doesn’t have a lot of trouble getting his shot off, Maxiell will need to continue improving his consistency, as his turnaround jumper is only efficient when he shoots it over his right shoulder. One of the most interesting developments that we saw out of Maxiell in Vegas was his midrange jumper. It is clear that Maxiell has taken a page from Antonio McDyess given the way he was shooting the ball. As Maxiell expands his range, he could become a very nice high post player in addition to providing a tough presence down low.

As Maxiell continues to develop his post game, it would be nice to see him add a hook shot of some kind, as he doesn’t make as many moves going to the rim as he probably could. Maxiell showed in the playoffs that he can contribute right now, and should be given more of an opportunity to show his skills this year than he did last year. He provides a solid presence defensively, rebounds at a good clip, and works hard to make his presence felt. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Maxiell begin to take some of McDyess’s minutes as he begins to take a backseat to the up-and-coming power forward.

Hilton Armstrong
6-11, Power Forward, New Orleans Hornets, 1984
15.8 Points, 5.5 Rebounds, 3.3 Turnovers, 1.5 Blocks, 44.7% FG, 65.6% FT

Matt Williams

Although The Hornets failed to win a game, Hilton Armstrong managed to showcase the progress he’s made since last season in the four games he appeared in. Armstrong played relatively well for New Orleans as a rookie last season, but looked like a completely different player during the Summer League. He showed the same intensity when rebounding and blocking shots, but appears to have made great strides on the offensive end.

The first thing that immediately stood out about Armstrong was his physique. He looked noticeably more muscular than he did last season, especially in his lower body. While he hasn’t added a lot of bulk, he seems to be attacking his weight gaining goals in the right way by adding lean mass. Even with this added size, Armstrong showed vastly improved quickness in his post moves, which only added to the impact of the newly developed post game that he displayed.

Armstrong’s showed more improvement to his post game that arguably anyone in the Summer League. At times, Armstrong was simply dominant with his back to the basket, showing a nice turnaround jump shot, some up and under moves, and a solid repertoire of fakes and drop steps. The most impressive thing Armstrong has added to his game is the spin move he went to when facing his man up. His footwork has improved on the whole, but it was especially apparent when Armstrong was taking his man off the dribble and spinning around the defense to get easy buckets around the rim.

While Armstrong has made solid strides in his game, he still isn’t consistent enough to hurt a defense on an every game basis. His midrange jump shot was an especially good example of this lack of reps, as he showed vastly improved touch and range, but just didn’t knock his shots down at a consistent clip. As he gets more playing time, he could become an effective offensive player. Armstrong will need to continue adding muscle and polish to his game, and should get every opportunity to do that while serving as the primary backup to both Tyson Chandler and David West.

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