Kadeem Batts – Batts is somewhere in between Mike Davis and Mike Scott. He is a wiry strong finesse power forward whose game is based around the mid-range jump shot and who rarely creates. Be it through the pick and pop, the pick-and-roll, cuts to the basket or through running the court in transition, Batts generally only finishes looks others or opportunity created for him. Even when he posts, it is normally only to a jump shot. He has the frame to do more in the paint, but not the game. He’s a finesse player who will take some contact, but hasn’t that much power. He just is. So be it.
On the glass, Batts uses his activity and length to keep balls alive and is a good offensive rebounder for this reason, but is less effective on the defensive glass where he can be outfought. Similarly, he defends the perimeter well, but is not much of a rim protector. He struggles to do much in the post on both ends when up against players of true size, and though he anticipates well and hedges hard, he has not the power of a power position player. Batts has good speed and a good motor, and can seal and finish down low on smaller opponents, but there aren’t going to be smaller opponents at the highest levels. And while he can occasionally spot up from three and drive the ball from the line, he can also barrel people over and has yet to add consistent three point range.
What separates Mike Davis and Mike Scott? Scott is smarter, tougher, competes defensively even when overmatched and has a little bit of three point range. Batts ought to channel some of this. He could make the league despite his rebounding and his defensive deficiencies, just as Scott has, if he can make enough shots. Scott is learning the three. Batts must too.
Matt Bouldin – Four years after his first summer league, Bouldin is back for more. He spent last year in the D-League, and after starting the season so far down the L.A. D-Fenders’s bench that he could hardly get a minute, he got free and pretty much evenly split the season between the Delaware 87ers and Fort Wayne Mad Ants, guard-starved teams that gave him free reign to create offence. Bouldin responded to the tune of as-near-as-was 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game, shooting 37% from three point range alongside 1.5 steals a contest. And if that looks pretty much identical to his numbers as a senior, that s not a coincidence. The slow ball-dominant high IQ good passing good shooting sorta-combo guard has battled injuries as a pro and has not been able to expand his game, but last year gave him the opportunity to prove he was healthy. He also proved he was still good. But not NBA good.
Seth Curry – Steph’s brother had multiple NBA looks last season, including one game each with both the Grizzlies and the Cavaliers. Reportedly, he turned down the contract Scotty Hopson later mistakenly received – either Cleveland didn’t offer him the same deal that Hopson eventually got and that information was wrong, or Curry made a grave error. Between NBA contracts, Curry spent the season with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League and averaged 20.4 points and 5.7 assists in 45 games, shooting 37.8% from three point range. He certainly plays like big bro. But he has not that talent level. Given the opportunity in the D-League to show he was more than just the shooter he had been at Duke, Curry did so, but he still nevertheless showed he was mostly just a shooter. And at his height, he’s going to have to be an even better one to make it.
Dewayne Dedmon – Dedmon signed about thirty five contracts last year and eventually wound up signing with the Magic through 2016. He is a fairly unique player, a prolific rebounder and decent defensive presence in the lane who takes quite a lot of mid-range jump shots offensively, a factor of the game at which he continues to improve. His frame, mobility and hugely long arms were built to play the NBA pivot position, and Lord knows he can do for years if he can rein in the fouls and mistakes a bit. Dedmon’s contract is unguaranteed for both this year and next, but given how Orlando is in the midst of a rebound, they ought stick with Dedmon and see what develops. They will not likely find a better centre prospect elsewhere.
Kim English – Dixon fell out of the NBA last year and initially went to Italy, where he joined one time powerhouse and now bankrupt fourth divisioners Siena. After their EuroLeague exit, English moved to France and played the rest of the season with Roanne, for whom he averaged 11.2 points in 26.4 minutes for the remainder of the season. English can still score without the ball in his hands much, no doubt, but he also still needs to prove he has that NBA range, shooting only 34.5% from three in the French league. His jump shooting peers can, so he must.
Aaron Gordon – I love Aaron Gordon. He could be the second best player in this draft class. So much has been made of his athletic abilities prior to and since the draft that it obscures his skills. Particularly his defensive ones, which are so very good for a freshman.
Gordon is an athlete, a passer, a defender and finisher. He is a high IQ player with some holes in his skillset but nothing he can’t work out. On the defensive end of the floor, he is so advanced for his age. Gordon steps up well on D, steps out well on D, and demonstrates great discipline and good effort to go along with his length and speed. He rotates well, makes few mistakes, reads well, takes charges and has the length to block his man. He stays home, not biting on too many fakes, and recovers when he needs to. Combined his timing and anticipation with his activity on the glass, and you have yourself a defensive presence. Add a little strength, and you have yourself an NBA defensive presence.
The offensive end is a little far behind, but even there, Gordon showcases one skill that just can’t be taught – his passing game. Gordon is a tremendous interior passer, so much so that he’s even run a pick-and-roll as the ball handler on occasion. He passes on the move better than pretty much every other big man in the game, can hit a cutter when facing up on the perimeter, and can kick it back out when down in the post. His individual offence is a work in progress – most significantly, Gordon is a God awful free throw shooter who is fouled a lot accordingly, not with the worst form in the world but with hands that could probably use a little realignment. He has no go-to move, though he does like a little floater when on the drive and shoots jump shots better than his foul shots suggest. The handle is not especially smooth and the post-up play limited, but Gordon will at least run the court and dive to open spots to get looks, and he finishes well.
Some of the skills need developing, but some are already so developed. Gordon has the body type, size, length, bounce, second jumpability, defence, IQ and potential to be one of the best at his position. I will be sad if he doesn’t because I’m all in on this one.
Cameron Jones – Jones is a testament to the fact that the Development League really can be used to develop your game. He has put in three seasons there now and has become a go-to scorer, averaging 20.2 points on 46.5% shooting and 40.8% from three point range, throwing in 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on the way. He always was a good scorer, both in his previous two years and his collegiate career, but he has taken it to the next level, mostly through the addition of the three pointer. Always a good mid-range shooter, Jones added the range, and with that comes efficiency and output. These things complementing his high IQ game, good athleticism and solid man to man defence, he is now on the cusp of the NBA. And if he doesn’t make it this time, it’s probably time he left the D-League and starts drawing in the big paychecks that he can.
Vernon Macklin – Macklin is two years removed from the NBA, and has been on a tour. He has played in Turkey, the D-League, the Philippines and China’s secondary league, and does the same thing in all of them. He pushes, he bruises, he drops righty hooks from the post, he never leaves the paint, and he fouls. Macklin is 27 years old and slightly undersized for the centre spot that his groundedness and reliance on the post demand he play. Lacking finesse, skill, a foul stroke, rim protection despite his long wingspan, and three inches of height, he is not likely to make it back to the big leagues. But old school post bruisers are always needed somewhere else.
Josh Magette – Magette (pronounced Ma Jet, not the same as Corey Maggette) made the Grizzlies summer league team in 2012 after finishing up a senior season at Division II Alabama-Huntsville in which he averaged 12.7 points, 8.9 assists and 2.7 steals per game. He spent the first year of his professional career in Holland and then spent last year with the L.A. D-Fenders of the D-League, averaging 10.4 points, 6.9 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.6 turnovers per game, shooting 38% from three. Magette, clearly, is a pass first point guard. He keeps the dribble alive, dribbles with no flair but no danger, executes simple passes routinely and makes scant few mistakes. He also takes few risks, rarely probing beyond the first line of the defence and very rarely foraying in the paint, dribbling back out quite often when he does. Magette’s physical profile is very unfavourable for the highest levels of basketball, a 6’1 point guard with short arms, no speed and no explosion, but he has a lot of IQ and headiness that make him likeable. He plays within his significant limitations and betters any offence with his decision making and jump shot from both mid and long range, both off the catch and off the dribble. But given that he can neither create his own shot nor defend his position with any physicality, relying upon his hands and reads only, and is merely a decent jump shooter, he is probably right where he is.
Marble is an unconventional guard, a 6’6 off guard with point guard tendencies who relies on IQ and versatility rather than any explosive. Save for a mediocre free throw stroke and a tendency to drift at times, he contributes a bit of everything and has no glaring weaknesses. A much improved long range shooter and defender, Marble is much more efficient than his 42% field goal shooting suggests due to the high volume of threes he takes (albeit at only 34%) and the high number of times he gets to the foul line. He has added range to his mid range jump shot and the ability to create spacing for the jumper with a step-back, jab steps and a pull-up, as well as shooting off curls.
Without the speed to collapse a defence on the regular, Marble finds seams using his body control and will take contact at the basket. He is not an especially good finisher at the rim, but he will get to the line as much as he can. Marble spends more of his time playing more away from the rim and using screens, either as the curler around them or when calling for ball screens when serving as the primary ballhandler, as he can occasionally do. When running the offence, Marble plays the pick-and-roll well and demonstrates solid vision and decision making – he will never be a lead guard at this level, but it helps. And defensively, while Marble is still prone to reaching in and gambling for steals rather than moving his feet, caught looking in help defence situations all too readily, he is improved in man to man defence and uses his size to deny passes.
This all sounds a bit like Matt Bouldin, admittedly. But he’s slightly bigger, slightly faster and slightly better. Which suffices.
Victor Oladipo – As customary as it is for rookies to attend summer league no matter how high they were drafted, there doesn’t seem to be any great reason for Oladipo to be here. Maybe it’s just to get familiar with Payton and Gordon, in which case they might as well have sent Nikola Vucevic here as well. Nevertheless, congratulations to Orlando for drafting the second best player in two consecutive drafts. Maybe.
Romero Osby – After being cut by the Magic last training camp, Osby is back for a second go, despite the power forward spot he plays being even fuller than it was last time with the addition of Gordon and the breakout of the sneakily good Kyle O’Quinn. In the year hence, he has been in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws, where his task was to rein in his mistake making. He failed. Although he poured in 16.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in only 27 minutes a game, there were also 3.3 fouls and 2.8 turnovers per game in that time. A quality offensive talent, Osby still does not know how to use what he has. He can use summer league as an opportunity to showcase what he does have, at least, as well as prove his return to health after season ending shoulder surgery in January.
Elfrid Payton – The Magic traded the rights to Dario Saric at #12, a future second-round pick, and a future first-round pick (sort of) in order to get Payton at #10. They then waived Jameer Nelson, partly to save some money, but in doing so opening up the point guard spot for Payton to play as much as he can/ And they even went as far as to waive Nelson’s backup, Ronnie Price. The keys are with Payton and Oladipo. No pressure, then.
Kendrick Perry – Perry dragged Youngstown State to respectability pretty much single handedly for the last three seasons and ranked amongst the best scorer and steals-racker-uppers in the country. He is a 6’0 guard that plays mostly off the ball as a secondary creator, with a want and need to primarily score first, but this does not make him a chucker. Indeed, Perry probably could have played full time point (and likely will do from here on out), having evidenced decent passing vision and decision making in the halfcourt, playing some pick-and-roll at times and feeding the post quite well for one so small. He is extremely dynamic in the full court, going as far as to run on makes, and certainly wouldn’t struggle with that part, either.
As a scorer, Perry uses his great speed and explosion to constantly attack the basket. He is a leaper given the opportunity, and is willing to throw himself at the basket to take the contact, struggling to finish over size yet not letting this stop him from trying. This is not a reckless style of play, though – Perry is very efficient from the field and commits few turnovers, and picks his spots in a timely, high IQ fashion. On his drives to the rim, Perry is driving to score not to kick, yet he gets there consistently with his speed, agility, spin moves and body control. He splits double teams, drives with both hands, attacks closeouts, and finds it easy to get to the rim if the defence is not fully set. In terms of shotmaking, Perry has added a runner over time, and while the jump shot is not the biggest part of his offensive arsenal, it is decent enough. Perry jumps high on the jump shot, shoots off the dribble and around screens, can stop on a dime for a pull-up two, and although he shoots slightly on the way down at times hits enough jump shots to open up the drive. No one part of the jump shot game is as good as the drive, but it’s good enough, and when combined with his defensive effort and great hands make for an effective, controlled two-way pest of a guard.
Very solid all-around player, then. He’ll even do his turn on the rebounding glass. But also a very small and unproven one. This should be a nice measuring stick for him.
Augustine Rubit – Rubit is a 24 year old 6’6 front court player who turns 25 next month. For all those things to be true and for him to still be here in an NBA summer league coached by NBA personnel means he must be must be pretty good. And he is, in a couple of ways. Rubit is a very good rebounder and aggressive if scrappy offensive player who has the size, athleticism and long arms of a small forward, but who has hitherto been a power forward. He tried to adapt his game to suit his professional projection as a senior, most notably hitting 21 three pointers on the season after none combined in his previous three years, and slashing to the rim as ever without forgetting to use his length, reach and motor to attack the glass and defend the paint. However, mostly untested in his perimeter defence thus far, Rubit might have too much still to prove. It is nice for a player from such a tough background to make it as far as he has, but it will be very difficult to make the final leap into the NBA. Yet if he is prepared to tour the world for a few years, he has plenty of money to make.
Incidentally, Rubit’s Jaguars profile lists his hobbies as “hanging out, playing basketball and talking with his girlfriend”. There’s a lot going on there.
Scott Suggs – Suggs spent last year in the D-League with the Erie BayHawks and showed the continued expansion of his game that has been going on for the last three years. He is still best known and most effective as a catch-and-shoot player, as evidenced by the 40.3% three point shooting on a high volume of attempts, but he has improved at turning those three point attempts into high percentage two point jump shots. He is still not effective nor predisposed at forays all the way to the rim, limiting himself to pickig his spots in that regard, but he is diversifying the game beyond the catch and shoot to incorporate some off the dribble. Smooth and agile if slender and a bit soft, Suggs is a high IQ and efficient offensive weapon. But he needs to prove he can defend the position.
Darrius Williams – Williams is an extremely random choice for summer league, a 6’4 wing player from Division II Morehouse who left school last year and was most recently found playing in the UBA with the Georgia Spartans. As a senior, he averaged 18.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists, and hit zero three pointers on the way. He is a former football player who is built like one, and who lives to slash to the basket. Anything other than that would be mere guesswork.