Nerlens Noel was excellent, Nick Johnson made a splash, Pierre Jackson suffered a devastating injury and much more.
Game 3: Orlando Magic 83 – 77 Philadelphia 76ers
Orlando’s Rookie Rankings
Roy Devyn Marble was the best rookie on the floor for Orlando, outperforming lottery picks Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. Marble showed the ability to step out and shoot from outside (2-3 from 3-point range), which could earn him playing time in Orlando. Marble also got out and converted in transition despite not being the most athletic two-guard out there. Marble was able to initiate a lot of his own fast breaks with three steals, which can be seen as a product of Marble’s high basketball IQ on the defensive end. Overall, Marbel finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Aaron Gordon started the game a little “amped up” looking out of control on a pair of drives and then suddenly became overly passive. About halfway through the third quarter, he really found his feet, grabbing two offensive rebounds and having a pair of nice drives from the perimeter. Gordon’s jump shot didn’t look bad, but he was 0-3 suggesting the problems he had in college aren’t quite behind him just yet. There were two particular good flashes of athleticism, first on a fast-break dunk in the first quarter and then again when he swallowed Casper Ware’s layup attempt. Gordon finished with seven points and five rebounds, but also an ugly four turnovers.
Elfrid Payton really struggled in his first game with the Magic with five assists but four turnovers. Payton’s handle looked shaky in traffic. Realizing this, the Sixers double-teamed him. Payton really struggled with this, either turning over the ball or losing his dribble and wasting a lot of the shot clock. Payton finished with just two points that came off a nice drive from the perimeter.
Orlando’s Sophomore Stars
Victor Oladipo looked good, spending less time at the point guard spot during this game, which appeared to be a natural adjustment. Oladipo’s stroke from 3 looked to be a little smoother and more consistent than last year, and his defense was as strong as ever. I wouldn’t be surprised if Oladipo sat out later in the week. The Magic would do well to keep him off the court as he was really into the game, going back and forth with Casper Ware.
Orlando’s Under-The-Radar Free Agents
Romero Osby, Kim English and Seth Curry all deserve mentions. Each showed flashes of talent but struggled to stay consistent throughout the game. All three have a good chance to make the Magic roster, so keep an eye on them throughout the week.
Sixers Rookie Rankings
K.J. McDaniels had a pair of nice blocks in his first two minutes on the floor, showing the same defensive instincts that got him to the NBA. McDaniel’s shot still appeared to be a little streaky (like it was at Clemson), but he did hit one nice pull-up and executed an equally nice backdoor cut before using his athleticism for an impressive dunk. McDaniels finished with nine points, two blocks and an impressive +15 margin while on the floor.
Aaron Craft played some great defense on Victor Oladipo. Despite his stat line being somewhat underwhelming (two points, two rebounds, two assists), he did have an effect on the game. Like he always does on the court, Craft carried out a number of hustle plays and was a major factor in the Sixers making the game close at the end.
Jerami Grant struggled to make any sort of impact. He shot 0-3 from the field, had one rebound and didn’t do much else in his 16 minutes.
Sixers Sophomore Stars
Nerlens Noel had a fantastic first game back after sitting out the entire 2013-14 season. Noel displayed some very impressive footwork and passing skills on the left block. He also was a terror defending the pick and roll pick, pocketing the Magic point guard four times in the game. Noel did fail to establish good rebounding position and consistently stood under the basket rather than putting a body on a man and boxing out. Noel was also a little turnover prone. Whenever he made a move from further than 15 feet out, he looked a little out of control. Overall, it was a fairy-tale comeback story with Noel finishing with an impressive 19 points, two rebounds and three assists. Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Noel’s games was his silky smooth free-throw stroke, where he shot a perfect 7-7.
Pierre Jackson started off well, but reportedly ruptured his Achilles tendon early in the game. Jackson looked poised to make the Sixers roster after winning the D-League MVP award last year. This is a devastating personnel blow for Philadelphia.
Sixers Free-Agent Anomalies
Casper Ware had a nice game with 16 points, two rebounds and two assists. He also played some tenacious defense on Victor Oladipo. However, he will need to improve his efficiency (4-11 from the field) and limit his turnovers (six) if he wants to make the Sixers roster.
Game 4: Detroit Pistons 95 – 89 Houston Rockets
Detroit’s Rookie Rankings
N/A – Spencer Dinwiddie may sit out the entire 2014-15 season while recovering from the ACL tear he sustained this January at Colorado.
Detroit’s Sophomore Stars
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a terrible summer league in 2013, but today was a very different story. Caldwell-Pope was aggressive going to the basket, scoring the majority of his points in transition or in the midrange. Pistons fans will be happy to see him being aggressive, as he earnednine trips to the free-throw line. Stan Van Gundy must be salivating at his defensive potential. Caldwell-Pope showed the ability to play the passing lanes and ended up with six steals. Overall, he doesn’t seem like the most self-confident player, but having 26 points in the opening game could really spur him on for a supremely successful Orlando Summer League.
Peyton Siva really won the game for the Pistons with big plays on both ends of the court. Siva managed to get into the lane and finish or draw the foul in the last two minutes, showing the same clutch qualities he did at Louisville in 2013. Defensively, Siva got a key steal and drew a late charge. This clutch performance was the cherry on top of an all-around good game for Siva 16 points (4-8 shooting) and six assists. I have always been a fan of Siva’s game and believe that he will prove to be a good second- or third-string point guard on the Pistons.
Tony Mitchell was very efficient, scoring 13 points on just 4-5 shooting from the field and 5-6 from the free-throw line. However, Mitchell struggled to stay on the floor due to picking up six fouls in just 18 minutes. Mitchell will need to improve on the defensive end to earn a spot in the Pistons’ rotation.
Detroit’s Under-The-Radar Free Agents
N/A – None of the Pistons’ free agents really had notable games
Houston’s Rookie Rankings
Nick Johnson emphatically announced his summer league presence with a HUGE dunk. Overall, Johnson had a good game finishing with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. I have long said Johnson was one of my second-round sleepers, so I hope he continues his strong play if only so I can keep my bragging rights.
Chris Crawford proved to be a great spark off the bench for the Rockets, scoring 20 points and connecting on 8-13 of his field-goal attempts. Crawford went undrafted out of the University of Memphis in this year’s draft. In order to make a roster, he will have to improve his distribution and have a bigger effect on the defensive end.
Jahii Carson seemed determined to dispel the myth of him being a score-first point guard. Carson reminds me a little bit of Marquis Teague, distributing the ball well when in transition but struggling to impact the game in the frontcourt. Carson is small, but used his speed and athleticism to fight through screens and be active in the passing lanes. I will be interested to see if Carson gets more minutes going forward. If he does, I’m excited to see what he can do.
Houston’s Sophomore Stars
N/A – The Rockets’ Robert Covington didn’t suit up for this game.
Houston’s Under The Radar Free Agents
Tarik Black was stuck as a role player in Kansas playing behind Embiid, Robinson and the Morris brothers. I am happy he finally got the chance to showcase his talent. Black is a brute in the paint; an effective brute at that. In just 20 minutes, he scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds (three offensive) and blocked a shot. Black will be hard-pressed to make an NBA roster, but I really do feel his energy-hustle game translates to the next level.