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News » Summer only starting point


Summer only starting point


Summer only starting point
Only one NBA team is participating in two summer leagues - the Oklahoma City Thunder .

For good reason. More Basketball means more opportunities for general manager Sam Presti and the coaching staff to finalize their training camp roster.

Summer leagues have two primary benefits - players get a taste of professional Basketball. Front office executives evaluate players.

"The summer league is important for a younger team," Presti said. "It gives you an idea where guys are fundamentally. It gives us a road map where guys are individually. It also gives young players a chance to play and start a bond."

Because games in Orlando and Las Vegas essentially are glorified pick-up games, don't place much stock in how James Harden, the Thunder's No. 3 overall selection, fares in 10 summer league games in Orlando and Vegas.

It's difficult to gain much insight from preseason games in October, almost impossible in the summer.

For those unfamiliar with summer league Basketball, the two premier leagues are opposite.

Orlando has only six teams and doesn't allow fans to watch games. Only the media and team executives are allowed to attend.

Las Vegas features 21 teams and has seen an increase in attendance every year since the league was formed in 2004. Sessions averaged more than 4,000 fans last summer.

"In some ways it resembles the baseball winter meetings in terms of trade activity, media interest, discussions, both on and off the record," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver was quoted last summer. "It's an incredibly vibrant place to be."

Since Kevin Durant plans to be in Las Vegas, he was asked if he will give Harden, his new teammate, some advice.

"It seems so long ago for me," Durant said. "It's a fun time. Anxious. Nervous. A lot of different feelings. Just being drafted to the highest level of Basketball, you can't beat that... I know (the rookies) will be excited."

Truth is, most of the players on the Thunder summer league roster won't be on the training camp roster in October.

Most NBA teams only have a few roster spots available. Even if a player like Marcus Dove, the former Oklahoma State small forward, plays well, it doesn't guarantee he will be invited to training camp. Players dream that summer league success will help them land an NBA roster spot. Reality is, summer league games often are auditions for better overseas contracts.

Coaches and general managers from every continent attend games. An eye-opening performance could be the difference between a $40,000 paycheck in Latvia, a $90,000 contract in Belgium or a $130,000 deal in France or Spain.

A perfect example is Gabe Muoneke. The undersized power forward who played at Texas, scored 31 points last season in a game in Orlando. Muoneke, 29, knew he wasn't going to play in the NBA, but it helped improve his overseas stock.

Last summer, Russell Westbrook, a player some felt was taken too high at No. 4, created a buzz in summer league that carried over into the season.

Just don't place much stock in what happens.

Unlike the famous commercial, what happens in summer league Basketball doesn't stay in Vegas. It's merely the starting point for first-round draft picks, overseas auditions for everyone else.

SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULES

ORLANDO

→Monday - Orlando, 4 p.m.

→Tuesday - Indiana, 6 p.m.

→Wednesday - Boston, 4 p.m.

→Thursday - NJ/Philadelphia, 2 p.m.

→Friday - Utah, 10 a.m.

LAS VEGAS

→July 12 - Memphis, 7 p.m.

→July 14 - LA Lakers, 7:30 p.m.

→July 15 - San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.

→July 17 - Chicago, 7:30 p.m.

→July 18 - Dallas, 3 p.m.

SUMMER LEAGUE ROSTER

→DeAngelo Alexander G, 6-5, Charlotte

→Marcus Dove F, 6-9, Oklahoma State

→Moses Ehambe F, 6-6, Oral Roberts

→James Harden G, 6-5, Arizona State

DeVon Hardin C, 6-11, California

→Kyle Hines F/C, 6-6, UNC Greensboro

Serge Ibaka F, 6-10, Congo

Shaun Livingston G, 6-7, Peoria Central HS (IL)

→Keith McLeod G, 6-2, Bowling Green State

→B.J. Mullens C, 7-0, Ohio State

→Richard Roby G, 6-6, Colorado

→Doug Thomas F, 6-8, Iowa

Kyle Weaver G, Washington State

Russell Westbrook G, 6-3, UCLA

→D.J. White F, 6-9, Indiana

→Robert Vaden G, 6-5, Alabama-Birmingham

SUMMER LEAGUE RULES

NBA summer leagues use different rules than regular-season games. The most unusual rule is players are allowed 10 fouls. Portland center Greg Oden fouled out in his summer league debut in 2007. Other summer rules:

→Games feature four 10-minute quarters

→Teams are allowed two 30-second timeouts per half

→Players are allowed 10 personal fouls

→Teams are in the penalty on the 10th team foul

→If overtime is needed, it's two minutes

→Halftime lasts only eight minutes

SUMMER LEAGUE SCORING LEADERS

Las Vegas, with 21 teams participating, is viewed as the premier NBA summer league. Listed below are the scoring leaders for each Las Vegas summer session since the league was formed in 2004.

→2008 - Jerryd Bayless, Port. (29.8)

→2007 - Louis Williams, Pho. (25.2)

→2006 - Randy Foye, Minn. (24.8)

→2005 - J.R. Smith, N.O. (20.6)

→2004 - Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Den. (25.7)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

12 Thunder players to watch during summer league play

→1. James Harden: The No. 3 overall pick is an adept passer as well as scorer. How many assists and rebounds he averages could be as revealing as how many points he scores.

→2. Russell Westbrook: A first-team All-Rookie selection last season, Westbrook will play in Orlando. How much improvement has the athletic point guard made the past three months in LA?

→3. D.J. White: Limited to a handful of games his rookie season, the former Big Ten Player of the Year is anxious to play a full season. Having added some muscle, White is projected to be part of the Thunder's rotation.

→4. Shaun Livingston: The former lottery pick showed signs of overcoming a devastating knee injury that derailed his career. How much mobility has Livingston regained the past three months?

→5. B.J. Mullens: The 7-foot center didn't start for Ohio State. He's extremely athletic but is a project. How he fares in summer league and training camp in October could determine whether he starts in the D-League.

→6. Kyle Weaver: After contributing solid minutes as a rookie, starting 19 games, Weaver must continue to show improvement to remain in the rotation on a roster that's still in flux.

→7. Robert Vaden: Viewed as one of the best shooting guards in the draft, Vaden, from UAB, can make an immediate impression with a strong showing in the two summer leagues.

→8. Serge Ibaka: The athletic 6-foot-10 project from the Congo spent a year overseas. Ten summer league games could determine where he plays the upcoming season, overseas or the D-League.

→9. Marcus Dove: The 6-foot-10 Oklahoma State product is a terrific defender who shut down Carmelo Anthony and Adam Morrison in college. Can he show enough in Las Vegas to earn an invite to training camp in October?

→10. DeVon Hardin: One of the players offered in the rescinded Tyson Chandler trade, the 6-foot-11 post player has an opportunity to make an impression during summer leagues after playing overseas last season.

→11. DeAngelo Alexander: The Midwest City product finished his college career at Charlotte after beginning at OU. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard will need a solid performance just to earn a training camp invite.

→12. Richard Roby: The former Colorado star will only play in Las Vegas but was a prolific scorer with the Buffaloes. After playing a year overseas, can he make enough of an impression to be invited to training camp?

ULTIMATE STANDINGS

ESPN puts Thunder at 57

The Thunder finished 57th in ESPN the Magazine's seventh annual "Ultimate Standings," a system that ranks the 122 professional sports franchises in eight categories to determine which fans are getting the most in return for their investment of time, money and passion.

The Thunder ranked eighth among the 122 pro teams in affordability, which includes tickets, parking and concessions. The organization was 10th in bang for the buck, which is based on wins over the past three years measured against money it receives from fans.

In other categories, the Thunder was 24th for players' effort and likability; 38th in fan relations; 48th in coaching; 65th in ownership; and 86th in both stadium experience and title track (winning).

ESPN's comment on the organization's rise from a No. 116 ranking last year as the Seattle SuperSonics:

"Looks like the move from the Emerald City was a fan-friendly one. Clay Bennett may have been the worst owner in last year's standings, but Oklahoma City fans have given their new franchise a 59-spot overall bump and an increase in nearly every category. The fans are excited by a future that includes young talent (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook) and community initiatives such as the Rolling Thunder Book Bus and fitness clinics run by the players themselves.

"With tickets, soda, beer and parking going for less than the league average - although the price of a hat is tied for most expensive ($22) - fans are more than OK with OKC, declaring the Thunder the eighth-most affordable franchise in sports, the cheapest of any NBA team. The only negative is their home, the Ford Center, lacks luxury amenities, well-lit concourses and leg room. But even that negative has a positive upside. The Thunder will sink $100 million into the facility over the next two years, adding restaurants, bars, premium seating and a new scoreboard. As Oklahoma City proves, there really is no place like (a new) home."

SUMMER LEAGUE TIDBITS

LeBron James, a much hyped teenager, averaged 14.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists in his summer league debut.

Kevin Durant averaged 24.0 points during the 2007 summer league before going on to win Rookie of the Year.

→Last season, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green were named to the Orlando all-summer league first team.

Thunder shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha was named to the all-summer league first team in 2007 in Orlando.

→Brook Lopez averaged 19.6 points last summer in Orlando to lead the Nets to a 4-1 record.

→Von Wafer and Marcus Banks own the single-game scoring record (42 points) in Las Vegas.

→Earl Barron (Miami) and Adam Morrison (Charlotte) led the 2006 Orlando summer league in scoring (24.0 ppg).

→J.J. Redick led all players in scoring (19.8) in the 2007 Orlando summer league.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: July 8, 2009

 

 
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