Evaluating Wiggins, Parker, more lottery picks at Vegas Summer League
LAS VEGAS -- With the NBA Summer League wrapping up on Monday, SI.com evaluates the nine 2014 lottery picks who played in Sin City:
Andrew Wiggins, Cavs (No. 1 pick)
Stats: 4 GP, 30.0 MPG, 15.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 2.8 TO, 40.5 FG%
Analysis: Analysts who believed that Wiggins’ defense is more NBA-ready than his offense will feel justified in their stance when they review the Summer League tape. The 6-foot-8 swingman displayed solid man-to-man fundamentals, moving his feet and playing with high effort in an environment that often sees a lot of loafing. His athletic tools were most conspicuous during a highlight-reel chase-down block that drew oohs and aahs, but he also used his length and quickness to disrupt passing lanes and get deflections. Offensively, three-point shooting (2-for-13) was his biggest weakness. As the week went on, he laid off the perimeter stuff and focused more on attacking. His scoring came in glimpses: the unforgettable spin-move dunk, the well-honed step-back jumper and some activity in transition. Cavaliers coach David Blatt complimented the 19-year-old's calm during a week filled with trade rumors, and that poise was arguably his standout feature. Although he seemed eager to impress, he didn’t succumb to nerves and he rarely freelanced to the detriment of his team. Shut down by Blatt after four games, Wiggins left everyone in Las Vegas wanting for more. -- Ben Golliver
Jabari Parker, Bucks (2)
Stats: 5 GP, 28.6 MPG, 15.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 5.0 TO, 41.9 FG%
Analysis: Milwaukee finished 1-4, but Bucks fans had reason to be generally pleased with Parker’s performance. Although Parker, 19, averaged five turnovers, he looked comfortable with the ball and moved smoothly. It was easy to envision his developing into a No. 1 scoring option: The 6-8 forward played both inside and out, faced up from outside, found soft spots for mid-range looks and did a little work from the post. Parker rebounded well for much of the week, including games of 15 and 11 boards. He also made some nice reads from the elbow, even though he didn’t pile up assists. To no one’s great surprise, his defense lagged behind his offense, but it’s best to hold off on critical assessments until he’s playing with and against true NBA competition. -- B.G.
Dante Exum, Jazz (5)
Stats: 5 GP, 26.6 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 3.0 TO, 30.8 FG%
Analysis: Tremendously talented and green, the 19-year-old guard played to both sides of that description. The 6-6 Exum tantalized even while working off the ball much of the time. He sprung into side screen-and-rolls with confidence, showing an impressive feel for threading passes through multiple defenders in motion. He turned awesome defensive plays into scoring opportunities, demonstrating his two-way potential. But in between those displays of skill and instinct Exum sometimes floated out of frame, unsure of how to accent the creative work of point guard Trey Burke. Then, when Exum shifted into a more active ball-handling role, he occasionally piled up turnovers. Both are perfectly understandable tendencies for a player this young with so little experience. Exum should resolve those issues in time as he grows accustomed to his joint role as creator and facilitator. -- Rob Mahoney
Julius Randle, Lakers (7)
Stats: 4 GP, 23.5 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 3.3 TO, 41.9 FG%
Analysis: The first phrase that comes to mind is “freight train.” The 6-9 Randle was eager to get out into the open court, handling the ball himself rather than looking to dish to a guard, and he looked to attack in the half-court. Summer League didn’t present strong indications one way or another about how Randle’s undersized frame will translate to life as an NBA power forward: He made plays and grabbed boards in the basket area, but he wasn’t facing the type of length he will see during the regular season and he didn’t shoot efficiently. Though Randle’s conditioning needs some work, the 19-year-old's grown-man strength did shine through, especially against smaller defenders. Because his overall style was so headstrong, it’s fair to wonder whether Randle will be able to create high-percentage looks consistently against coordinated schemes and accomplished rim protectors. -- B.G.
Nik Stauskas, Kings (8)
Stats: 6 GP, 29.3 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.8 TO, 42.6 FG%
Analysis: The 6-6 guard dealt well with pressure on the ball and didn't force the action much when put in a position to create. That's a notable positive in a loose setting typically dominated by thoughtless forays into playmaking from guards looking to make their mark. Stauskas, 20, kept to his strengths: basic pick-and-rolls, opportunistic drives and off-ball work alongside NBA veterans. That approach doesn't lend itself to gaudy production, but it sufficiently showcased Stauskas' capacity for efficient offense (he made 9-of-20 three-pointers entering Monday’s championship game against Houston) and ball handling in a complementary role. -- R.M.
Noah Vonleh, Hornets (9)
Stats: 7 GP, 27.1 MPG, 9.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 2.6 TO, 28.4 FG%
Analysis: If the NBA kept “great move, poor finish” as an official stat, Vonleh would have led Summer League by a wide margin. Time after time, the 6-9 forward would lose his defender with a nice post move — spinning this way, ball-faking that way — only to misfire on the resulting shot. His 28.4 shooting percentage actually looks better than what one might have expected after watching him struggle to complete plays. Even so, the 18-year-old seemed ahead of the curve established for a one-and-done player drafted on upside. He wasn’t shy offensively, he stepped out to launch jumpers and he dived hard to the hoop on pick-and-rolls. Perhaps more important, Vonleh ranked among the tournament’s leading rebounders, even though his frame still has plenty of room for added muscle. -- B.G.
Doug McDermott, Bulls (11)
Stats: 4 GP, 28.8 MPG, 18.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 3.0 TO, 44.2 FG%
Analysis: One would expect a highly skilled 22-year-old to thrive against Summer League competition and McDermott did not disappoint. His shot is ready-made for the NBA. Not only is his release quick enough to withstand close-outs from some of the best athletes in the world, but McDermott also aligns his body and finds balance almost instantly when shooting on the move. That bodes very well for McDermott's acclimation to the league at full speed, as does his ability to counter defensive pressure by moving the ball to open teammates. Still, the defensive questions persist because McDermott has a hard time staying in front of opposing wings. (For a closer look at McDermott's summer performance and potential impact with Chicago, click here.) -- R.M.
On Monday's SI Now, Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Mannix and NBA writer Ben Golliver discuss the top performers at the Las Vegas Summer League and how they will benefit their teams.
Zach LaVine, Timberwolves (13)
Stats: 6 GP, 32.3 MPG, 15.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 3.3 TO, 39.7 FG%
Analysis: The 6-6 LaVine is an impressive athlete who should have little problem matching top pros in bounce and quickness. Where he'll run into some issue, though, is in bringing his decision making up to speed. Shot selection was a frequent problem for the 19-year-old, who hasn't sussed out when to fire and when to keep running the offense. So much of being a lead ball handler in the NBA comes with turning away opportunities: declining merely decent looks for better ones, steering away from perilous driving lanes and rejecting risky passing angles. LaVine doesn't seem to mind partaking in all of the above. His athletic gifts and smooth handle were tremendous assets in dealing with the problems that ensued, but the learning curve against NBA competition will be far steeper. -- R.M.
T.J. Warren, Suns (14)
Stats: 5 GP, 24.8 MPG, 17.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.2 APG, 1.0 TO, 54.4 FG%
Analysis: The 6-8 small forward was one of the most comfortable scorers in Sin City, topping 20 points in three of five games (he logged only seven minutes in a fourth after taking an inadvertent elbow to the eye). Warren, 20, is already a smooth, polished player inside the arc. His game is laced with the kind of devices (spins, cuts, hesitations) that rock a defender off balance, after which he uses his strength and touch to finish. He's a confident mid-range shooter, too, with the potential to add the three-pointer to his arsenal. -- R.M.