D-Leaguers Make Good in Summer League

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Summer League is a whirlwind, especially once the Thomas & Mack Center begins to host games in addition to the contests being held inside tiny Cox Pavilion. If you've ever been to the early rounds of a pro tennis tournament or a PGA event, you know what it's like to bounce around between courts or tees, trying to get a glimpse of as much talent as possible.

Like any tournament, you begin to adopt favorites and follow them around. The Detroit rookies -- Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers, and Jonas Jerebko -- always put on a good show. The Warriors' Anthonys were electrifying, as were the Clippers' first couple of games when Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon worked their inside-out game. But no squad played harder in Las Vegas than the D-League Select team, and their games were imminently more watchable than most. The D-Leaguers finished Summer League with a 3-2 record, and got their final victory in dramatic fashion. Joanna Shapiro of the NBA sent me this email about how it happened while I was in the other gym watching the Clips:

[The D-League Select team] defeated the Portland Trail Blazers last night in heroic fashion. Down two without the ball and 2.9 seconds to play, Kurt Looby stole the Portland inbounds pass and found teammate Marcus Hubbard who connected on an off-balance long-range three from the right side to give the NBA D-League the 74-73 victory at the buzzer.

It was the only buzzer-beater of the ten days and it couldn't have happened to a harder-working group of guys. Several of the select team members had offers to warm the benches of the pro clubs, but opted to play in the baby blues of the D-League because they'd be assured more minutes. The D-Leaguers outshot their opponents 47.2 percent to 45.9 percent over the span of their five games, and outrebounded them by greater than four boards per game.

The D-Leaguers featured two of my favorite players of Summer League: Walker Russell, Jr. -- (the best passer in Las Vegas) and TrueHoop contributor Coleman Collins, who averaged 11.8 points per game and shot 51.4 percent from the floor.

Will any of the Selecteers get a guaranteed deal from an NBA squad? In this economy, it's unlikely. But if nothing else, Vegas affirmed what a lot of NBA people have come to realize: There is measurable talent in places like Boise and Austin ready to make good in the L.