24.6 points, 4.7 assists, 5.44 turnovers, 4.1 rebounds, 1.77 steals, 51.5% FG, 37% 3P, 33.2 minutes
Williams biggest draw revolves around his outstanding athleticism combined with his fantastic offensive instincts. He has great quickness, an awesome vertical leap for a 6-1 player, and an explosive first stepbeing better going right, but also having no problem going left when the situation calls for it. More than just a run and jump type athlete, Williams is extremely hard to stay in front of because of how strong his hesitation moves are. He jukes his defender left and right and back and forward to keep him off balance and then explode to the basket, usually finishing the play with a strong dunk. The fact that he got to the free throw line 108 times in 9 games (an astounding 12 attempts per game) is strong evidence of that. He also happened to convert 80% of those.
Williams made a living getting to the free throw line, but he also showed the ability to score from behind the arc and everywhere in between too. He has a very nice shooting stroke once hes in rhythm, and is very much adept at pulling up sharply off the dribble and knocking down a shot with a hand in his face. The 76ers ran infinite pick and roll plays again and again and again with Williams at the helm, and he for the most part did an excellent job breaking apart the defense to score on his own or find the open man. Going underneath the screen isnt an option with him running the point--hes not a lights out NBA 3-point shooter at this point, but he definitely has a lot to work with if he continues to work hard on his shooting range and footwork.
So with that said, you may be asking yourself why he only finds himself on our third team? As you might imagine, Williams showed off quite a bit of weaknesses in the nine games or so that he played in, many of which made it quite obvious why he has yet to break through as a solid NBA rotation player.
The most obvious would be his decision making. At 6-1, Williams will most likely not be able to make a living purely as a scorer. The fact that he averaged 5.4 turnovers per game compared with his 4.7 assists tells a lot about where he stands at the moment as far as his point guard skills go.
Williams shot-selection can be extremely poor at times. On more than one occasion he brought the ball up the floor to start Philadelphias offense and launched up a long-range shot before anyone on his team even had a chance to touch the ball in the flow of the offense. Williams can struggle once his teams half-court sets break down toohe takes too many unnecessary risks with the ball in his hands, trying to be too flashy threading the needle with impossible passes, or trying to split a double team wildly if the defense collapses on him on a trap guarding the pick and roll.
Playing a year or two college basketball really could have helped him iron out many of the little kinks he has in his gamemainly stemming from the lack of experience he possesses playing meaningful basketball in a competitive setting. At times hell pull up off the dribble when he has an open lane to slash, over-penetrate the hoop jumping in the air and only then deciding what to do next, or just drive down the lane with his head down and a full head of steam. This worked very often in summer league because of the lack of NBA athleticism that most of the big man possessedbut these types of moves would be swatted away without mercy if he tried them in a real game.
Learning how to read defenses, see the floor and his teammates better and not rely so heavily on his athleticism will be the key in him reaching his extremely high ceiling. He really has tremendous scoring instincts, but most coaches not named Don Nelson will want to reel him in significantly if they are going to allow him to run their offense.
We havent even started talking about his defense which might be the weakest part of his game right now. Not having great length, height or strength, Williams is always going to struggle against most NBA matchupsbut he doesnt help himself out at all with the way he lets players score all over without putting up much of a fight. Guys shoot over him like hes not there, push him around in the paint, and just get right by him off the dribble. Hes not a presence at all defensively in terms of containing his man, and for the most part doesnt seem to always compete that hard on this end.
Williams has the potential to develop into a terrific NBA player without a doubt, but hes still a long ways away from getting there.
Von Wafer, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Denver Nuggets, 1985
24.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 54% FG, 44% 3P, 79% FT, 27 minutes
Wafers potential goes beyond his terrific shooting ability, though. He is also a fantastic athlete, sporting an excellent first step, and being very explosive getting off his feet. Hell wow you at times with a monster dunk or two, but is still unable for the most part to fully take advantage of his tremendous gifts. The reason for that lies in his poor ball-handling skills, as the ball just plain and simple slows him down. This also limits his effectiveness finishing around the basket, as by the time he gets into the paint, hes not in good enough control of the ball to finish in traffic.
Even though Wafer is clearly a fantastic shooter, he is nowhere near as good when hes forced to put the ball on the floor and pull-up off the dribble. His mid-range game needs a lot of work, and expanding his game could be the difference between being a marginal NBA player to a legit rotation piece. He doesnt get to the free throw line nearly as much as a guy with his physical tools should, even if on paper hes an outstanding athlete. He also doesnt contribute enough in the other departments of the game (3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists), showing very little commitment to staying in front of his man on the defensive end, and not putting much effort into fighting through screens. In general, he showed a real lackadaisical approach to playing defense in summer league, which has to be a bit of a concern considering that hes trying out for an NBA job. Wed be remiss not to mention the fact that he tends to shoot absolutely everything that comes his way. As a pure catch and shoot finishing specialist that might be OK, but if hes to expect to carry more responsibilities on the offensive end, he must do whatever he can to shed the selfish tag that hes rightfully earned with his shot-selection.
Despite the negatives mentioned above, Wafer is obviously an NBA player in terms of pure talent. As is often the case, though, it takes a bit more than that. Off the court hes had issues starting in high school, and college, so continuing to maintain a mature, professional attitude will be essential for him moving forward. Wafer definitely deserves to be on an NBA roster next year and has the ability to carve out a nice niche for himself as he continues to expand his game.
Jared Dudley, 6-7, Small Forward, Charlotte Bobcats, 1985
12.6 points, 7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.60 steals, 59.5% FG, 50% 3P, 64% FT
If you saw Dudley play in college, then you have a pretty good idea of how he played in the summer league as well. The only differences would be in the way his body looks and the fact that hes expanded his shooting range considerably over the past 3-4 months. Dudley has lost at least 20 pounds since his BC days and is now in absolutely phenomenal shape. This has helped his lateral quickness considerably, and he indeed did a fine job throughout the camp defending the small forward position with his typical intensity and fundamental play. Putting the ball on the floor, Dudley looked noticeably quicker in his initial first step, and is now more adept at getting off the ground and finishing thanks to his improved leaping ability and body control. If the lane was too clogged, Dudley showed no problem pulling up off the dribble for a mid-range jumper, or hitting a spot-up 3-pointer from NBA range. To round out his game, Dudley also contributed his typical toughness and intensity on the glass.
It will be interesting to see if Dudley will be able to crack Charlottes rotation this year, since they could very well be the most stacked team in the NBA now at his position. Dudley will have to show that he can defend NBA caliber small forwards to do so, as well as display his improved perimeter shooting stroke once training camp begins.
Jason Maxiell, 6-7, Power Forward, Detroit Pistons, 1983
15 points, 5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 0.8 assists, 3 turnovers, 54% FG, 76% FT, 27 minutes
Outside of the dozen dunks he threw down, Maxiell showed impressive touch and improved footwork when working with his back to the basket. Maxiell has the quickness to get by his man when facing up, and used this to his advantage throughout the Summer League by using spin moves to create space for jump shots. Though he doesnt have a lot of trouble getting his shot off, Maxiell will need to continue improving his consistency, as his turnaround jumper is only efficient when he shoots it over his right shoulder. One of the most interesting developments that we saw out of Maxiell in Vegas was his midrange jumper. It is clear that Maxiell has taken a page from Antonio McDyess given the way he was shooting the ball. As Maxiell expands his range, he could become a very nice high post player in addition to providing a tough presence down low.
As Maxiell continues to develop his post game, it would be nice to see him add a hook shot of some kind, as he doesnt make as many moves going to the rim as he probably could. Maxiell showed in the playoffs that he can contribute right now, and should be given more of an opportunity to show his skills this year than he did last year. He provides a solid presence defensively, rebounds at a good clip, and works hard to make his presence felt. It wouldnt be surprising to see Maxiell begin to take some of McDyesss minutes as he begins to take a backseat to the up-and-coming power forward.
6-11, Power Forward, New Orleans Hornets, 1984
15.8 Points, 5.5 Rebounds, 3.3 Turnovers, 1.5 Blocks, 44.7% FG, 65.6% FT
The first thing that immediately stood out about Armstrong was his physique. He looked noticeably more muscular than he did last season, especially in his lower body. While he hasnt added a lot of bulk, he seems to be attacking his weight gaining goals in the right way by adding lean mass. Even with this added size, Armstrong showed vastly improved quickness in his post moves, which only added to the impact of the newly developed post game that he displayed.
Armstrongs showed more improvement to his post game that arguably anyone in the Summer League. At times, Armstrong was simply dominant with his back to the basket, showing a nice turnaround jump shot, some up and under moves, and a solid repertoire of fakes and drop steps. The most impressive thing Armstrong has added to his game is the spin move he went to when facing his man up. His footwork has improved on the whole, but it was especially apparent when Armstrong was taking his man off the dribble and spinning around the defense to get easy buckets around the rim.
While Armstrong has made solid strides in his game, he still isnt consistent enough to hurt a defense on an every game basis. His midrange jump shot was an especially good example of this lack of reps, as he showed vastly improved touch and range, but just didnt knock his shots down at a consistent clip. As he gets more playing time, he could become an effective offensive player. Armstrong will need to continue adding muscle and polish to his game, and should get every opportunity to do that while serving as the primary backup to both Tyson Chandler and David West.