DraftExpress All-Summer League: Honorable Mention

DraftExpress All-Summer League: Honorable Mention
Aug 05, 2007, 03:48 pm
Acie Law, 6-3, Point Guard, Atlanta Hawks, 1985
13.6 Points, 6.0 Assists, 2.4 Rebounds, 2.8 Turnovers, 44.0% FG, 20.0% 3FG, 82.1% FT

With Al Horford only playing in only a couple of Atlanta’s Summer League games, fellow rookie Acie Law stole the show for the Hawks. Law was second on the team in scoring, behind Shelden Williams, and more than held his own against the other NBA-caliber lead guards in Salt Lake City. Displaying great court vision, Law ran the point as well as any point guard we saw this summer not named Jose Juan Barea.

One of the least recognizable, but most impressive qualities that Law displayed was an innate ability to drive to the rim and find open teammates without hurting the flow of the offense. Every time he touched the ball he was looking to make a play, and consistently made good decisions when defenses were collapsing around him. Though he still plays a very cerebral game, Law showed some uncharacteristic creativity in finding him teammates, dropping some nice no-look passes and making a lot of flashy passes that you wouldn’t normally expect from him. Law may not wow anyone with his speed, but he did a good job of controlling tempo and possesses a deceptive first step.

When it came to creating his own offense, Law proved to be a highly capable mid-range shooter, even with a hand in his face. Law effectively uses his size to get shots off over other point guards, and though he doesn’t always get a lot of separation, he compensates with great touch. While his field goal percentage wasn’t stellar, it was very good considering how often he was forced to hoist up shots with the shot clock winding down. Law may not get to the rim as well as most point guards in the League, but he has a very nice midrange game, which will should be a major boost to a Hawks rosters that has more than a few slashers. The one aspect of the game the Law will need to work on immediate is long-range shooting. He attempted only 5 3-pointers in the Summer League, but decidedly avoided taking shots from as close as 20 feet. As time goes on, Law should be able to translate his jumper to the outside without a lot of trouble.

Law won’t blow anyone away with his production this year, but he is going to be a very nice asset for the Hawks. He has a veteran-like swagger in his game that should rub off on his teammates over time. Though he is limited in some ways by his athleticism, he does a good job of compensating on both ends of the floor. His defense is still a bit sloppy at times, but he doesn’t give up anything easy in the flow of the game. Law should make an immediate impact for the Hawks off the bench, and should make some nice contributions throughout his first season.

Randy Foye, 6-4, Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves, 1983
18.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.6 turnovers, 44.2% FG, 53.8% 3P, 83.3% FT

Though Foye didn’t have much to prove in the Summer League, he may have shown the most NBA-significant development of any player in attendance. After having a relatively difficult time adapting to the NBA 3-point line during his rookie season, Foye’s 3-point stroke looked strikingly different in the Summer League. In contrast to how he shot last season, Foye now shoots the 3 with significantly less elevation, and the result has been more consistency. It is clear that he put in a lot work in the offseason, and it appears that it is paying off.

Foye didn’t show a great deal of new things in his game, but his dramatically improved outside shot will turn him into a completely different player offensively. Last season, Foye could be found pulling up off of screens from deep, yielding very mixed results. During the Summer League, Foye hit a few outside shots coming off of screens, but made a killing spotting up and knocking down catch-and-shoot threes. Although he won’t be receiving passes from Kevin Garnett next season, it is only a matter of time until Al Jefferson garners doubles teams down low, opening Foye up on the perimeter. Now that defenders have to respect him on the catch, Foye should have significantly less trouble getting past him man, which will allow him to utilize the floor skills he is known for. Not to perpetuate the comparison, but Foye’s outside jumper now looks eerily similar to that of Chauncey Billups.

Foye will come into this season as something of a go-to-guy for Minnesota, as he will probably be asked to carry quite a bit of the load offensively. For this reason, Foye will have every opportunity to develop the consistency and poise that he will need to be an upper-level NBA point guard. Foye didn’t put on much of a show passing the ball, but he was coupled in the Timberwolves’ backcourt with Rashad McCants, who put in a significant amount of time running the point. Unlike many of the developments here in the Summer League, those that Foye has made will translate to the NBA immediate if he maintains his consistency.

Kelenna Azubuike, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Golden State Warriors, 1983
21.0 Points, 6.0 Rebounds, 2.5 Assists , 2.0 Turnovers, 46.7% FG, 50% 3FG, 60% FT

Kelenna Azubuike looks like a completely different player than he did last summer. With a year of NBA experience under his belt, Azubuike has quickly developed into a legitimate NBA shooting guard, displaying a much more well rounded skill set than he did earlier in his career. With Mickael Pietrus likely on the way out in Golden State, Azubuike may very well be the team’s primary backup swingman when the season begins.

Azubuike has really come a long way, especially in the shooting department. It seems that he’s really bought into Don Nelson’s offense, and is thriving in transition and in the half court. Azubuike has embraced the role Nelson bestowed upon him, and his level of comfort within the offense is truly impressive. He is very consistent from the spots where he receives the ball, showing the ability come off screens from the baseline and knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers out to 20 feet. His range has also improved significantly, as he is completely comfortable shooting the NBA 3, which was a primary weakness in his game as little as a year ago. Few players in Vegas showed as much improvement in their overall shooting as Azubuike.

Azubuike’s guard skills go far beyond just scoring. His handle is much tighter than it used to be, and he actually played a few possessions at point forward in the Summer League. This improvement has really opened up his midrange game, allowing him to create separation for pull-up jumpers with ease. It has also allowed him to become a relatively effective distributor, but he should by no means be considering a position change. Azubuike has improvements on the offensive end have really overshadowed the things that he’s always done well, but his ability to get to the rim and use his athleticism defensively and on the glass can’t be overlooked. Depending on where Mickael Pietrus lands, Azubuike could find himself playing significant minutes for the Warriors.

Tyrus Thomas, 6-9, Power Forward, Chicago Bulls, 1986
16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.7 blocks, 3.0 assists, 1.7 Steals, 2.3 turnovers, 42.9% FG, 60.0% FT

It is almost impossible not to like the things that Thomas brings to the table as a player: intensity, passion, and unbelievable athleticism. Even in the Summer League, Thomas took no prisoners on the floor, and tried to get his hands on absolutely everything around the rim. With Joakim Noah now in toe, Chicago may have the most active frontcourt of any team in the NBA.

Thomas is still only scratching the surface of his potential, but he’s made some strides since last season. The form on his midrange jump shot looks more refined, which will be a key to his long-term success. Though he doesn’t knock it down as consistently as he would like to, it is becoming an effective weapon for him. His ability to get to the rim from the high-post will make it an especially nice tool. Thomas dunks everything around the rim, and threw down of highlight reel caliber jams in Orlando. His post game isn’t very developed yet, but his touch is improving on the whole, which is a nice sign.

On the defensive end, Thomas has already developed into one of the NBA’s best weakside shot blockers. His mixture of length, quickness, and timing keeps offensive players honest when they take the ball to the rim. He’s also showed the propensity to strip players when they expose the ball in traffic, a talent that he shares with fellow Bull Ben Wallace. It is clear that Thomas has become more comfortable with the NBA game, and it really shows on the defensive end.

Thomas is something of a conundrum, in that he’s already a solid contributor though he hasn’t even begun to show what he can do on this level. Thomas may never develop all of his tools, but there is no doubt that this is still just a preview of what he can be in the future. His demeanor and work ethic on the floor is a testament to just how good he can be. He is an angry guy and this comes off when he's off the court too, but the Bulls won't argue with the way it translates into a frenetic activity level for them.

Josh Davis
6-11, Power Forward, New Orleans Hornets, 1984
12.2 Points, 7.0 Rebounds, 1.3 Assists 1.6 Turnovers, 1.2 Steals, 50.0% FG, 44.4% 3FG

Though he is far from the most athletic bigman we saw this summer, Josh Davis just might have been the best shooting post in the entire Summer League. Few players of comparable size showed the same consistency from the outside, and even fewer showed the court awareness Davis utilized to get open.

While Davis doesn’t have ideal speed or quickness, he works extremely hard, and knows how to use his bulk to his advantage. His inside game isn’t terribly effective, but it is more than serviceable. On the offensive end, Davis has some decent back to the basket moves, but isn’t about to blow anyone away with pump fakes and turnarounds. Davis will get an occasional easy basket by moving well off the ball and position himself off his teammates’ drives.

Davis’ ability to play off his teammates is even more apparent from the perimeter. He is one of the most cerebral players we’ve watched, reading the play as a trailer, and getting to a spot where his teammate can hit him for an open jumper. Though this won’t serve him as well in a more organized setting, it is certainly something that would make him a valuable asset on someone’s roster. As far as pure shooting bigmen go, Davis was the best we saw in the Summer League. The fact that he hustles on every play, and does a good job of clearing out space around the rim only augments what he can do from the outside. Davis was one of the few players willing to hit the deck for loose balls, and showed tremendous desire in the five games he played in Orlando. He probably could carve out a spot for himself in the NBA once again if he really tried, but will more likely take the guaranteed money and play at the highest level in Europe once again.

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