By: Sam Meyerkopf / @HoopLikeDrazen
It’s great to really dig into prospects for Europe and get scouting heavy but it’s summer and sometimes a fun basketball column is needed. Here are some All-Teams I made to help digest my week in Las Vegas watching NBA Summer League. The team listed with the player is their Summer League team.
Some of these quick profiles are a little bit harsh but all of these players are ones that I see talent in and some just need time to develop. Euro Ball is not always an easy transition for American players and it’s important to figure out the right time to go over.
Basically the All-Looks Team. If you don’t already know but this is, if you saw these guys walking (or running) around you would want them on your team (aka if you saw them in an Airport). These players can have great highlights and really look like players physically but their game or character is incomplete.
Keifer Sykes, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
At first glance Sykes is small but watch him run and jump once and you get why he’s on this Team. Sykes could be in the NBA Dunk Contest next season but instead he will probably be in the D-League Dunk Contest. He has crazy leaping ability and is also super quick. He uses his athleticism to get after it on defense and apply a lot of pressure on the ball handler. Problem is offensively in Vegas he kept getting by his defender but then couldn’t make a quick decision afterwards. Sykes is a really fun player but his game is more a bunch of pieces and the puzzle is half made.
Orlando Johnson, G, Washington Wizards
We all know about the Vitoria debacle at the beginning of last season. With huge arms, great height for a 2-guard, and powerful movements, Johnson looks the part. His problems is shooting and basketball IQ. A year with one of the best D-League teams (Austin Spurs) helped Johnson develop as a ball handler and increased his feel for the game but he is still lacking a Euro role. Guards who can’t shoot seemingly have less and less of a place in high level basketball. But he looks like he could tryout for linebacker for an NFL team tomorrow.
Jamil Wilson, F, Washington Wizards
Feel like I do this dance with Wilson every time I see him. College, PIT, D-League, Summer League… I want him to be a new age, versatile, combo forward who can play inside out. He wants his muscles to blow in the wind while he rises up for another jump shot far, far away from the basket. One of these days it’ll work, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Eric Griffin, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
An freaky athletic forward who can finish at the rim and hit three’s. Yes, please. First glimpses of Griffin have you wondering why he’s not in the NBA. But then you dig deeper. He was given guaranteed money by the Mavericks last year after summer league but couldn’t hack it at all in training camp and spent the whole year in the D-League with no call-ups. Running, jumping, and shooting is great but if you can’t read the defense or run plays well it can be tough. Tough to see how he fits in Europe right now but as an athletic big in the Philippines or South Korea it could pan out very well.
Cady Lalanne, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs
Anyone that gets love from the Spurs automatically gets a little bit of shine on them in the scouting community. Lalanne is no different, especially after showing off a nice stretch big man game at PIT. The way he runs is so smooth and his touch has gotten so much better that Lalanne really looks the part. But he can’t yet put up consistent stretches of impact in play after play after play. He quite possibly could get an NBA deal off of his potential and then we will see if Lalanne can prove it.
All-‘He Killed At Summer League But Does it Translate To Europe?’ Team
Lorenzo Brown, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
Brown went to Reyer Venezia last year but was sent home after he failed his physical. But then he played all year in the D-League and NBA. Brown is a really good driver and just gets to the rim. He’s a big guard who can finish too. But he doesn’t really organize the team and the shooting is very questionable. Can he hack it in Europe? The NBA style might be a better fit unless he can find a lot of freedom in a European offense.
Victor Rudd, F, New Orleans Pelicans
Very similar to DeQuan Jones last year (who had a great summer league, signed for good money in Cantu, and just couldn’t figure out how to be effective in Italy), Rudd was a highlight reel in Vegas. It seemed like every other time down the court he was putting another rim rocker down. He’s so springy and long, your eyes just lock on to him. But four’s in Europe are asked to think and make decisions a lot and Rudd isn’t quite there yet. Can the athleticism plus finding a team that plays a fast pace mask some of that? Sure, but it will need to be a very correct fit.
Greg Whittington, F Miami Heat
Who? The former Georgetown forward hasn’t been playing ball the past couple years with academic problems in college and injuries. But Whittington put on a show in Vegas. He has a nice stroke, especially from mid-range. Can get his shot off the dribble, saw him hit quite a few step-back jumpers. He’s a fluid athlete, a bit skinny but in certain leagues could play the 3 and the 4. He was active on defense, creating both steals and blocks with his length. But after sitting out a couple seasons will someone take the chance on him? Looks like he’s drawing interest in Legadue, which would be a good fit.
Alan Williams, C, Houston Rockets
The big man bucket-getter. Williams just puts the ball in the hole. Post-ups, quick catches in the lane, offensive rebounds, whichever way he gets the ball 10-feet and in, he puts it in. He doesn’t move well, will struggle defensively, and really just stays inside but if you need someone to fill it up in the paint, Big Al is your man.
Khem Birch, C, New Orleans Pelicans
Skinny, too tall, and not the best basketball IQ can be a problem combination in Europe. Birch is a ridiculous rim protector, he turns away shot after shot. But players that tall and skinny aren’t really in vogue right now. Most teams would take a 6’9″ strong, long, and athletic player to play center over a 7’0″ skinny player. If Birch can find a way to minimize mistakes, be a good teammate, and play with effort all the time he can find a role in Europe. But I foresee some potential stumbling blocks before he reaches that point. The good news is he already signed in Turkey with Usak Sportif, who have history of developing good center recently like Eli Holman and Eric Bucknor.
Mainly this applies to second and third year players. Players that are D-League-ers or fringe NBA players. Do they stick it out another year and try to make the NBA or start their European or International basketball careers? Or in some cases, re-start.
Aaron Craft, PG, Golden State Warriors
Craft was freaking out about calls and getting fired up AT SUMMER LEAGUE! Craft wants to win, any court, any situation you put him in. He had a very good season with the Santa Cruz Warriors and led them to the D-League Championship. But with his severe lack of scoring ability Craft will always be an intangibles and defense guy, and usually with his size and athleticism that’s not enough for the NBA. There wouldn’t be much to gain from another go-around with Santa Cruz, he basically had a good a D-League year as he possibly have. His lack of offense possibly keeps him from the highest levels of Euro Ball but he’s someone who could become beloved by a team and fan base and stay in one Euro club for a while. Maybe not quite as beloved as John Goldsberry in Bamberg but possibly in that neighborhood.
Joe Jackson, PG, D-League Select Team
Lightning quick guard who was really helped by a year with the Bakersfield Jam and just being out of the bad pace of a college system. His calling card will be pressure defense. Don’t know if he can get up to Dontaye Draper or Cliff Hammonds levels of on-ball aggressiveness but it’s the skill that could bring him to the highest levels of Europe. His average jump shot and feel for a point probably prevent Jackson from ever reaching an NBA roster with regularity.
Sean Kilpatrick, G, Milwaukee Bucks
Kilpatrick was a playmaking combo coming out of Cincinnati but never found his niche last season, bouncing around the D-League. He had a very productive Summer League, showing off his offensive versatility. Considering his size and that Kilpatrick can be a playmaker and scorer, he might try a last chance at the NBA before potentially going overseas.
Dominique Sutton, F, Golden State Warriors
No one plays harder than Sutton. Absolutely no one. His rebounding, defense, and attacking are always packed with doses upon doses of viciousness and intensity. He’s a straight line driver on offense and can be used in a variety of ways on cuts. The problem is at 6’5″, he can’t shoot at all. I’ve argued with Simon Jatsch (@sjacas) before about Sutton because he really wants to see a coach get crazy creative in Europe and try him as a very undersized center. To me he’s still a combo forward, but you just have to have tons of spacing and shooters around him. Sutton already had a pretty successful year in Greece a couple years back and the NBA is no place for him. The only thing that keeps him from going to Europe is the possibility that he could be very good in some Asian Leagues.
Romero Osby, PF/C, D-League Select Team
I love Ro’s game, always have. He’s a bulldog, super strong, great mid-range shooter who has extended his range to three. Sadly the injuries have really caught up to him. He was leaning on one leg too much in Vegas and just didn’t look the same. He may need more time off. Osby was in France last year when he got hurt again. Sadly Osby has Euroleague level physique and talent but with his health, it’s really a mystery if he’ll ever come close to playing at that level now.