Abromaitis began his professional career this season in France, playing for perennial powerhouse ASVEL Villerbanne and averaging 8.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He shot his usual 41% from three point range, and didn’t make many mistakes, yet nor did he (or does he) do much other than shoot. He doesn’t have Kyle Korver’s ability to get open or shoot off screens, he’s not as tall as Steve Novak, not as athletic as James Jones, and not as lucky as Luke Zeller. Abromaitis could in theory have Pat Garrity’s role in the NBA, but Pat Garrity was considerably better than Abromaitis before becoming the specialist that he did.
Fells continues to plug away in summer league, hoping to catch on, and has built up one of the biggest resumes of anyone here. He’s spent the last two regular seasons in Israel and the last two summers in the Dominican Republic, rarely getting hurt and certainly putting in his work. The off-ball scorer averaged 12.3 points per game for Hapoel Jerusalem this season, and his decision making and shot selection skills continue to show incremental improvements. However, Fells is still not a playmaker, still average to mediocre in the rest of the game other than the jump shot, and, nice as his shot is, it still doesn’t have electric three point range. A shooting specialist can’t always shoot in the 30% range. Fells would potentially have a Von Wafer-like role if his jump shot could make the leap, but it still hasn’t.
Granger’s decision to come to summer league now, after spending his entire career to date in Spain, is interesting. With his contract with Estudiantes this summer, perhaps this is his best chance of making the NBA. Granger continues to improve year on year, and, two years after being undrafted, is a thoroughly unspectacular but extremely solid and capable leader on the floor, steadily improving all facets of his game and yielding no noticeable flaws. Granger is a decent athletic with good strength, a solid floor game, an OK jump shot, solid perimeter defence, and the guile to get to the rim and finish. He could very conceivably be an NBA third stringer.
Like Fells, Hill is also giving it a fifth go in the NBA; like Fells, Hill also spent last year in Israel, a prime place to go to for anyone playing the summer league game, and he’ll be sure to land something similarly next year. Hill is a versatile player, a tweener and face-up four with three point range, a dribble game, a increasingly rarely used post-up game, and decent post defence, polished and poised and a persistent mismatch. He is a good player. He is not, however, an NBA player.
Holman probably won’t play much here due to the presence of Melo, Iverson and Olynyk – summer league is for them to develop. If he does play, he’ll pile up the rebounds – Holman always does, and last year was no exception, averaging 9.4 rebounds in only 28 minutes per game for Hapoel Eliat in Israel. He also racks up the fouls, averaging three per game in that time, the side effect of playing entirely at the rim on both ends. Holman isn’t afraid to mix it up, take the contact, give the foul, and can finish, and he moves well for one so strong. His wingspan is also huge, which offsets his being an inch or two short. But he’s very limited to the post.
In his first pro season, Johnson-Odom confirmed what was known – he can score, either by throwing himself thorough unafraid at the basket in the pursuit of contact, or through his streaky yet explosive jump shot. His height, 6’3, is his main disadvantage. But if you’re good, then you’re good, and at some point height becomes arbitrary. Johnson-Odom has NBA talent. More importantly here, Johnson-Odom has everything you need to be a sensational summer leaguer. He should dominate here.
In 33 D-League games this season, Melo posted averages of 9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in only 26 minutes per game. That intrigues. There’s a fair way to go – those numbers aren’t dominating, nor especially close to it, and there’s reasons he played only 26 minutes per game, not least of which is the 3.3 fouls that came with them. But Melo is a piece for the future, and even if he doesn’t work out as a piece for the future, you stick with him in the belief that he will be. That shot blocking can’t be taught.
Mitchell won the D-League rookie of the year award, averaging 21.9 points (second in the league) and 6.4 rebounds per game. Down the stretch of the season, he went on an absolute scoring tear, scoring huge point totals which he wasn’t exactly known for before this. Averaging only 14ppg at midseason, Mitchell started taking all the shots, taking more than 30 of them six different times, including 41 in a 51 point outing. This trend continued in the three games he played with Talk’N’Text in the Philippines, where he averaged 38.3 points and 11 rebounds per game. He gets points now, it seems. But he doesn’t get them efficiently. Mitchell shot percentages of 42%/32%/72%, and the 1,049 points he scored took 941 shots to score. Mitchell is a volume scorer, a wannabe-isolation s corer who overvalues his jump shot and is drifting further away from doing the little things. But even if he’s not as good as it as he wants to be, he CAN score, and he’s almost a perfect athletic specimen for a small forward. He just needs to stop wanting to be Rodney White and he’ll make it.
Olynyk’s breakout last season was huge, especially after sitting out a year. He put away the three, rather than trend further towards it, and became a highly effective mid-range and in scorer, with dribble-drive and post-up games, toughness and rebounding. In theory, he’s a good long term pairing with Melo.
Pressey is, or was, one of the purest pass-first point guards in the draft, but high assist numbers alone weren’t enough to get drafted. They belie a floor game that isn’t entirely under control – Pressey’s a good passer, especially out of the pick-and-roll, but he makes more mistakes than you’d like from a floor general, and is rather ball dominant in the process. He’s quick enough, mediocre enough of a shooter, and a useful enough defender (he gambles, but he has to) to overcome his height disadvantage at the NBA level, but only if his point guard game is beyond doubt. Which, right now, it isn’t.
Omar Reed has completed the extremely rare move from the English Basketball League to the NBA (essentially). The English Basketball League is not the same as the British Basketball League – it is an inferior product to what is already a poor one, and making this ludicrous feat further impressive is that Reed was only ever in the second division of the EBL with the Medway Park Crusaders. To give you some idea of what we’re dealing with here, here’s some video of his time there.
Whilst training in Medway Park, a coach from the D-League’s Austin Toros, who had come to work with British prospect and Spurs draft pick Ryan Richards, noticed Reed’s jump shot and invited him to try out for the Toros. Reed ended up being picked in the fourth round of the 2011 D-League draft by the Toros, and has spent most of the last two years in the D-League. The one-time AAC Defensive Player of the Year spent last year with Boston’s affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, which is why he’s here. Reed averaged 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, as a “little things” player who played decent defence, hit the glass, and took only open shots. Three-and-D players are both trendy and important. But the 32% three point shooting isn’t sufficient for it.
I once saw a decent NBA career in Nolan Smith’s future. However, over the two years of his career so far, he has shown that he is an unremarkable defender, not a half court point guard, not a great scorer, and definitely not a shooter. He’s shown himself to be not a whole lot more than a crafty penetrator who doesn’t have the extra gear needed to be continually effective as such at the NBA level. It’s hard, then, to assign him a role or to see from where the improvement will come from, Nevertheless, there was once a spark in the fire, so Smith needs to throw a log on it. Adding the three ball so as to facilitate his drives and mid-range game is a logical starting point. But first, he needs to stop getting injured – Smith suffered a torn calf in his first game of this summer league, and is out for the remainder.
I am continuously intrigued by the esoterica and minutiae of all the aspects of building a basketball team. I want to understand how to build the best basketball teams possible. No, I don’t know why, either.