Ten notable performances from Day 1 at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas:
Wiggins found ways to score inside, but his aversion to dribbling was well on display Friday. The athleticism, defense and transition game are all there. One of the most exciting plays of the entire day was a half-court alley-oop that just barely went over the fingertips of the flying Wiggins. Yes, 18 points look good, but a 1-for-8 night from 3-point range looks a little worse, and the way he got those points still needs to improve.
All we hear about Parker is his skills as a scorer, but on Friday we saw some of his distributing ability. The rookie might only have totaled one assist, but he moved the ball within the Bucks' offense and had a couple of beautiful interior passes to set up his teammates. Parker still scored at a commendable rate -- 17 points on 11 shots -- but in Las Vegas, between the facilitating and the nine boards, he showed exactly why he’s so much more than just a scorer.
Hardaway might never pass the ball in Vegas. Seriously, it could never happen, but that’s perfectly fine if he’s going to shoot like he did Friday. The Michigan alum dropped in 25 points on just 15 shots in chucking his way to becoming the day’s high scorer. There aren’t many guys out west with the arsenal Hardaway possesses, tallying points off the dribble and spotting up from long range. The Knicks should be excited about the prospects of yet another volume shooter.
Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers | Grade: B-
Bennett might have disappointed in his rookie season, but he looked notably slimmer in his first Summer League contest Friday evening, finishing with 15 points and even throwing down one of the dunks of the day, a vicious finish in transition. He still struggled a bit on the defensive end, but just imagine what the Cavs could be like with contributions from Bennett this season to add to their refreshed roster.
Ledo might have shot just 4-of-14 from the field, but his performance was more about grace and command than anything else. Sure, maybe he wasn’t that effective, but he surely looked the part, galloping to the hoop seemingly whenever he wanted to get there. Considering the 21-year-old is 6-foot-7 and is learning to play either guard spot, that’s a pretty useful skill moving forward.
Noah? More like NO-ah. Vonleh couldn’t have struggled more in his initial summer league game, clanking like he was playing the lead in "Stomp." Vonleh ended his first ever pro contest scoreless, finishing 0-for-13 from the field, 0-for-4 from long range and even missing his only two free throw attempts. Vonleh could easily come back and wow in his second match, but he set the bar extremely low in Game No. 1.
Clarkson might not have been the biggest name entering summer league, but he was surely one of the most impressive performers on the first day, knocking in 21 points, including some nifty finishes around the basket. It wasn’t just about finishing at the rim, either. Clarkson was distributing off the bounce as well, finding teammates down low as he dribbled around screens. If the 6-foot-5 point guard can lock down his shooting form, the Lakers could end up very happy after selecting him with the 46th overall pick.
It’s always encouraging to see a scorer who can shoot in a variety of ways. Stauskas showed off those exact skills in his first summer league performance. In college, he earned a reputation as more of a spot-up shooter, but he progressively learned how to hit shots off the dribble. Friday, we saw him dribbling around screens and accurately pulling up for controlled attempts off the bounce. He might have attempted just nine shots, but the way he got them was plenty encouraging.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks | Grade: B+
Last season’s rookie darling is starting to show off a more refined skill set in Vegas. He’s packed on some extra brawn to complement the two inches he’s grown since being drafted last summer, important if only because it gives his jersey a little extra room to spell out his surname. After playing with a more hesitant offensive mindset as a rookie, Giannis was assertive during his first summer league contest, dropping 17 points on 12 attempts and coming up with the block of the day in the process.
Can Slow-Mo work in the NBA? Anderson enters summer league as one of the most intriguing prospects in Vegas. Watching him in his first game, you could see what you wanted to see. At times, he was a little slow to dribble by his man. At others, he found space and when he did that, he always seemed to find an open teammate. He made arguably his best play of the game driving baseline, pulling in a help defender and kicking to an unguarded Marcus Denmon for a corner 3. That’s Anderson: polarizing, but always fluid.