The Washington Wizards have enjoyed one of the more active summers in the NBA, not just in free agency but also in developing several younger players who could figure significantly into the club’s plans.
The Wizards, for instance, signed small forward Paul Pierce, but at 36, the 16-year veteran is hardly a long-term solution. Washington instead is keeping its fingers crossed Otto Porter, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft, will thrive under Pierce’s guidance after some promising play in the Las Vegas summer league.
Glen Rice Jr., another second-year Wizards player, was even better after being named MVP in Las Vegas. The tandem of Rice and Porter are at the top of the list of players who had exceptional showings in either Las Vegas or the Orlando summer league. Starting with the Wizards’ duo, here are the top 10 standouts from the NBA’s summer session.
Glen Rice Jr., Washington Wizards
The small forward averaged a league-high 25 points in addition to 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals out in Vegas. Rice, who scored 36 points during Saturday’s 95-94 triple-overtime win against San Antonio, shot 47 percent overall and 36 percent from three-point range to help the Wizards complete their stay in Las Vegas with a 5-1 record.
Otto Porter, Washington Wizards
A former all-American at Georgetown, Porter averaged 19 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists while being named to the Las Vegas summer league first-team. Porter scored in double figures in all six games, including 27 against the Spurs, and shot 39 percent from three-point range.
Andrew Wiggins, Cleveland Cavaliers
The No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s NBA draft averaged 15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals through four games in Las Vegas. According to published reports, the Cavaliers are close to signing Wiggins despite trade rumors involving Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love.
Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers
The No. 1 overall choice in 2013 pick barely registered for the Cavaliers last season, but the power forward made a splash in Las Vegas by averaging 13.3 points and nearly eight rebounds a game. Bennett’s rise, coupled with Wiggins and the return of LeBron James, makes this a particularly intriguing time in Northeast Ohio — even without a trade for Love.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
Parker, selected right after Wiggins in this year’s NBA draft, may not have flaunted the highlight-reel plays of the Cavs’ top choice over the summer, but the Milwaukee Bucks’ combo forward showed a rugged demeanor inside with a soft touch from distance. Parker averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
The No. 6 pick in 2013 missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery but shined in Orlando, where he averaged 12.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and three blocks in four games. The center/power forward’s quickness and anticipation on defense certainly have the 76ers excited.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
The eighth overall selection in the 2013 draft averaged 24 points and 7.4 rebounds in Orlando and could be a viable option at shooting guard for the Pistons next season. Caldwell-Pope also has become a more tenacious defender.
Doug McDermott, Chicago Bulls
The reigning national college player of the year and Bulls’ first-round pick averaged 18 points this summer, including scoring 31 with five three-pointers in Las Vegas July 14. McDermott shot 44 percent and stands to provide much needed scoring punch to the offensively challenged Bulls.
T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns
The Suns have plenty to be hopeful about in Warren, the No. 14 pick in this year’s draft. The versatile small forward’s efficiency in the summer league was off the charts, with a shooting percentage north of .500 while averaging 18 points.
Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
Just 19 years old, the No. 5 pick of the Utah Jazz appears to possess basketball smarts that belie his youth. Most notable in summer league was the Australian point guard’s poise in running the offense and a comfort level with the pick and roll.