The 2013 Las Vegas Summer League ends today, and oh, what a ride it’s been! I’ve been frustrated at times, like when I watched the Pseudo Miami Heat turn the ball over 60 times in their first two games, or when I watched Tony Wroten average 12.2 points per game on 25% from the field (the lowest percentage of the top-50 LVSL scorers by 5.5%). Despite the many turnovers and bad shots, I’ve been pleasantly entertained by the NBA Summer League product.
As the majority of the Summer Leaguers won’t make NBA rosters, they will soon face the decision of trying to latch onto a D-League team and grinding it out, or playing overseas. It’s an interesting decision, both financially and personally. In the D-League, players get direct exposure to NBA executives, but get paid like burger-flippers – $19,000/$13,000/$25,000 are the three salary brackets. Overseas, these same D-League caliber players are paid significantly more – $65,000 is about an average salary. In a market where average ex-NBA players like Nenad Kristic get paid millions, I’d choose the overseas route.
For most of these players the decision is less about chasing a bigger paycheck in a foreign country – where they will likely experience an extreme level of culture shock – and more about their lifelong dream of grinding it out to make it to ‘The League.’ Here’s a decent article that breaks down the financial logic behind the decision behind going overseas or grinding it out in the D-League. However, I’d like to revisit this topic later in greater detail.
Back to the Summer League…
On Saturday… Despite 28-point outbursts by both Dwight Buycks and Quincy Acy, the Raptors lost to the Suns 103-98 in Saturday’s first quarter-final matchup. The undersized forward, Acy, even showed his new outside shooting touch, going 2-4 from behind the arc. I didn’t know he had that in his game, but the guy whose beard might be better than James Harden’s or Reggie Evans’s, was a force inside and out for the Raptors. For the Suns, Archie Goodwin and Marcus Morris stood out by scoring 20 and 23, respectively, in the victory. Kent Bazemore had the only other notable performance on Saturday, scoring 26 points, but had 7 turnovers in the Warriors’ 83-77 quarter-final victory over the Lakers.
On Sunday… the semi-finals: Heat v. Suns & Bobcats v. Warriors.
Suns 91 Heat 89
In the first game of the day, P.J. Tucker led the Suns with 19 points, and Marcus Morris chipped in with 17 points on 6-9 from the field as the Suns came away with the 91-89 victory to advance to the finals. Phoenix fended off a 20-point efforts from Heat roster hopeful, James Ennis (25 pts), and from D-Leaguer, James Nunnally (24 pts).
Warriors 75 Bobcats 67
In the penultimate game of the Vegas SL, the Bobcats disappointed everyone watching (me, mostly) by sitting all of their good players – Biyombo, Zeller, MKG and Jeffery Taylor all had DNPs. Just when we thought the Cats actually had a chance to win something, they chose to revert back to losing.
For the Warriors second-year tweener, Draymond Green, had double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. He looks noticeably thinner, and was taking people off the dribble like a 3 while still rebounding like a 4. Despite the improvements to his body, Green will have a tough time finding minutes for the Warriors after the additions of Andre Igoudala and Mareese Speights.
The Championship: Pseudo Suns v. Pseudo Warriors
The Pseudo Phoenix Suns played their big-name young players in every game of the Las Vegas SL, and earned their spot in Monday’s Championship game against the Pseudo Golden State Warriors. It’s been entertaining to watch the chemistry between the reunited Morris twins, as they’ve led the Suns in scoring (Markeiff: 14.2 / Marcus 13.8) and to a perfect 6-0 record in the LVSL.
Opposing the Suns in the Championship Game are the Warriors, who have won 12 straight Summer League games dating back to 2010 – a fairly meaningless streak in the grand scheme of things, but certainly notable. While Kent Bazemore’s athletic dunk made some noise the other day, his overall play is what Warriors fans should be most excited about. The athletic 6’5” guard is averaging 19.6 points on 44% shooting with 5 boards per game, and looks like he could end up being a valuable asset in the upcoming season for Golden State.
I don’t think Golden State has the size to contend on the boards with Phoenix, and should have a tough time matching up with the Morris twins.
Championship Prediction: Phoenix 83 Golden State 72
- NBA Summer League 2013: Players Whose Success Will Translate to Regular Season (bleacherreport.com)
- Five surprises from the Las Vegas Summer League (nba.si.com)
- Las Vegas Summer League: Day 10 recap (hangtime.blogs.nba.com)
- NBA Summer League Top Rookies (prosportsrants.com)