NBA 2015 Summer League Top Performers – Part 1 – Orlando, Utah

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Dec 2, 2014; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns forward Myles Turner (center) shoots a free throw against the Texas-Arlington Mavericks during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. Texas beat Texas-Arlington 63-53. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Pacers Rookies Look Like Perfect Fit:

 Myles Turner:

Summer League Stats: 18.7 points, 60.5% field goal percentage, 8.3 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 4.3 blocks

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but Myles Turner was a steal at the 11th pick. It’s likely some teams choosing ahead of Indiana were scared off of Turner given his ACL injury last season, yet his talent is undeniable and given the potential it was a risk the Pacers estimated was worth taking.

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If you followed my mock drafts you’ll know I was looking at the Pacers selecting him at 11 and believed he was a player who might even move higher. At a mere 19 years old his upside is huge, and he’s already developed a versatile game both in close to the basket as well as from the field even hitting a couple of shots beyond the arc.

However, it’s his defensive brilliance which pinpoints why he’s a player who’ll immediately make an impact. With his 7’4″ wing span and 9’4″ standing reach he lead the Summer League with 4.3 blocks per game and rebounded just under double digits. Upon closer inspection though his ability to move on the court, hedge out to shooters while equally successfully manning the paint puts him in my opinion ahead of many of his counterparts.

Announcers interviewed coaches during games and were asked what they can learn about rookies in Summer League. Their response were predominantly the same: the player’s ability to pick up defensive principles and implement them in games. It’s often felt a player can add offense through coaching, but defense is a harder principle to teach and tends to take players longer to grasp. Turner is someone who excels in both categories and will improve in both as he gets experience which he’ll get plenty of now that the Pacers have off loaded his predecessor Roy Hibbert to L.A.

The dichotomy of the two centers is substantial as Hibbert is stunted offensively with limited variety and for the past 18 months has progressively dipped defensively. Paul George ‘s injury and the exit of Lance Stephenson only served to make matters worse for Hibbert as teams capitalized on his shortcomings by making him move laterally and forcing him to guard small ball.

As Indiana reintegrates a healthy George and look to recalibrate the team Turner’s defensive quickness and offensive upside were such that the Pacers chose to take another gamble on him being their center of their future.  Don’t be surprised if the 6’11” center begins the season starting or if his name is among those in consideration for Rookie Of The Year by season’s end.

Joseph Young:

Summer League Stats: 22.5 points (1st), 50.8% field goal percentage, 45% three point percent, 2.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.75 turnovers

When teams explain their draft selection process you’ll often hear them cite one of two main reasons:

  • to fulfill a specific roster need
  • or best talent on the board (BTOB)

Generally all second round choices are determined exclusively by BTOB.  However, in an extremely deep year other than standout Karl-Anthony Towns even lottery teams were able to select to meet both criteria. Well, other than Philly who still got a solid pick in Jahlil Okafor, but desperately needs a point guard to go along with their myriad of quality front court talent.

In Indiana’s case they seemingly hit pay dirt on both their first and second round selections. Turner may end up being the steal of the draft at 11 and Young offers something the Pacers are in dire need of … scoring. His natural offensive gifts were showcased in Orlando where he lead the tournament in scoring and was deadly from beyond the arc; another area Indiana are looking to upgrade and all this for the 43rd pick.

Young’s versatile offensive game is a plus, but there are also areas the undersized shooting guard (6’2″) demonstrated still need work. Specifically his 2.75 turnovers per 2.75 assists per game needs to be cleaned up.  And there is the size issue. While the trend in the league is to play small ball that’s not a literal translation, rather it’s more of a statement on front courts who are using small big men with the capacity for speed and the ability to shoot outside. The irony is while the teams are utilizing smaller front courts their back courts are getting bigger and stronger.

Still, the explosive scorer has a pure sweet stroke and great instincts on when to drive vs take a perimeter shot.  If he can add some muscle and improve his defense he will be a veritable theft at pick 43.

When I watch games I often am multi-tasking as I might be tweeting, or writing simultaneously so my other senses are always employed. Such was the case on July 8th the day Indiana played Detroit and I kept hearing that sound all hoop heads recognize of a ball that is swishing through the net barely touching the mesh. After Young’s third or fourth in a row of that variety I actually stopped what I was doing to focus on him directly. The YouTube video below demonstrates exactly what I’m describing:

Next: Surprise of Tournament

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