The Top Ten Performers at the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League

The Top Ten Performers at the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League
Jul 21, 2016, 04:20 pm
This is a list of the top ten performers from the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League, which concluded on July 18th. The rankings are based on the statistic EWA (estimated wins added). Although EWA does not definitively determine who the best individual players were, it does give you a sense of how productive and valuable they were to their respective teams. EWA is built off the same formula as PER, but it differs in the fact that it takes into account minutes played.

The following article goes into further detail regarding EWA and how it relates to other advanced statistics. Keep in mind that EWA is essentially PER times minutes played, which favors those players that went further in the tournament and played more minutes and games.

A few players, like Terry Rozier (three games, 36.4 PER), Trey Lyles (two games, 32.5 PER), Emmanuel Mudiay (one game, 30.7 PER), Devin Booker (two games, 28.7 PER) and Kris Dunn (two games, 27.9 PER, concussion) may have cracked the top ten had their teams elected (or needed) to play them more. In this setting, its often not worth the risk of injury and teams would prefer to give more extended looks to lesser known players.

EWA Top Ten

#1 Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves
#2 Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls
#3 Jordan McRae, Cleveland Cavaliers
#4 Cristiano Felicio, Chicago Bulls
#5 Jonathan Gibson, Dallas Mavericks
#6 Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors
#7 D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers
#8 Vince Hunter, Memphis Grizzlies
#9 Jarnell Stokes, San Antonio Spurs
#10 Tyler Ulis, Phoenix Suns

#1) Tyus Jones, 6'2, Point Guard, 20.1 years old, Timberwolves, Duke

EWA: 2.0
PER: 25.6
TS%: 59%
20.4 PTS, 3.8 REB, 6.8 AST, 1.4 STL, 13-32 3P, 48-57 FT%, 45.1 FG%

Tyus Jones, the second year pro and 24th overall pick out of Duke in 2015, put together an impressive performance in Vegas, earning him MVP honors. Jones took the keys to the Timberwolves offense when Kris Dunn went down with a concussion after two games, and led the team to the finals where they lost in overtime to the Chicago Bulls. Jones led the Las Vegas Summer League in assists at 6.8 per game, and finished third in points at 20.4 per game.

Jones has just average physical tools for a point guard, but he has elite ball handling and decision making skills. He looks very comfortable and patient playing out of ball screens, and keeps defenses off balance with hesitation and crossover dribbles, as well as his ability to knock down the pocket jumper. Jones has shown that he can get into the paint and make plays, but struggles finishing against length and often resorts to floaters and runners. He has some catch and shoot ability, having shot 37% on 106 attempts with Idaho and Minnesota last year. Jones hit some big shots in Las Vegas, and showed he could lead a team, but it will be interesting to see where he can find minutes next season behind Ricky Rubio, Zach Lavine, and Kris Dunn.

#2) Bobby Portis, 6'11, Power Forward, 21.4 years old, Bulls, Arkansas

EWA: 1.7
PER: 26.8
TS%: 55.8%
17.3 PTS, 9.4 REB, 1.1 AST, 1.4 STL, .7 BLK, 10-24 3P, 16-23 FT%, 49.1 FG%

Competing in his second Summer League, Bobby Portis led the Bulls to a perfect 7-0 record and a Summer League Championship. Portis led the Bulls in points and rebounds per game and finished 3rd overall in offensive rebounds, at 3.9 per game behind Jameel Warney and Alan Williams. Portis, who is known for his physical play around the rim and constant energy on the glass, continued to show that he is more than just a hustle player. He shot just 30% on 52 attempts from 3 last year, but made 10-24 from deep in Vegas and looked comfortable spacing the floor or playing out of the pick and pop. The second year pro out of Arkansas also showed glimpses of an impressive face up and back to the basket game, hitting some tough fade away jumpers. He is not an elite athlete, but he is a quick jumper and makes up for whatever lack of athletic ability he has with effort. Portis already carved out a valuable bench role for the Bulls last season, and his role will presumably increase given his development and the departures of Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.

#3) Jordan McRae, 6'5, Shooting Guard, 25.3 years old, Cavaliers, Tennessee

EWA: 1.7
PER: 26.5
TS%: 52.9%
24.3 PTS, 5.0 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.3 STL, .9 BLK, 10-34 3P, 66-81 FT%, 37.6 FG%

McRae started last season with the Delaware 87ers, before earning call ups from Phoenix and Cleveland, where he finished the season, and will head next year. McRae was drafted in the second round by Philadelphia back in 2014 and has bounced around Australia and the D-League before finding a home with the Cavs. The 76ers wanted to stash him in Europe for another year in 2015-2016, but he refused to do so, earning his draft rights back by forcing a tender and going to training camp, where he was promptly cut. His gamble seems to have worked out very well for him.

McRae can flat out score the basketball, and broke the record for most points in a D-League game last year when he poured in 61 vs. the Canton Charge. His scoring prowess was on full display again in Las Vegas, where he led the Summer League in points per 40 minutes (for anyone who played more than two games) at 31.7. McRae has shown he is a capable spot up shooter off the ball but he is at his best with the ball in hands creating space off the dribble or using his length and quickness to get to the rim and draw fouls. He finished second in the Las Vegas Summer League in free throw attempts per game at 11.6, behind Emmanuel Mudiay who only played one game. McRae has shown some improvement as a playmaking guard, but he can be turnover prone and has occasional tunnel vision on drives to the rim. When he is locked in on the defensive end of the floor McRae has the length and athletic ability to stick with NBA guards but could benefit from getting stronger. McRae has a skill that translates to the NBA level with his ability to score, but he will have to continue to show that he can play under control and fit in as a team player on the offensive end of the floor. At 25, he seems to have shown enough promise to carve out a niche in the NBA, and will likely continue to improve.

#4) Cristiano Felicio, 6'9, Power Forward/Center, 24.0 years old, Bulls, Brazil

EWA: 1.5
PER: 29.2
TS%: 78.4%
11.4 PTS, 6.3 REB, 1.9 AST, 2.6 OREB, 14-16 FT%, 33-44 FG%

Felicio, the second year NBA pro out of Brazil put together a solid showing in Las Vegas, although his numbers were somewhat limited having only played 22 minutes per game. He split time last season between Chicago and the Canton Charge, and managed to carve out a small role off the bench among a crowded frontcourt late in the season for the Bulls, flashing some real intrigue towards the end of the year.

Listed at 6'9 and 284 pounds, Felicio is undersized for a center, but uses his strength and wide frame to compensate for his lack of height and average length. Felicio is extremely efficient on the offensive end, playing within himself, and finding most of his touches on offensive rebounds, dump offs, and hard rolls to the rim. He has solid hands, and is more mobile and nimble than you would expect for someone his size. He flashed the occasional back to the basket move in the post, but his individual offensive game is still very much a work in progress. Along with his impressive efficiency on the offensive end of the floor, Felicio demonstrated excellent vision passing from the elbows and out of the post. He refrained from taking many jump shots in Vegas, but he went 4-10 from deep with Canton last year (and shot 88% from the free throw line line in summer league) so that is certainly an aspect of his development to monitor considering his obviously soft touch.

On the defensive end of the floor, he has some potential as a shot blocking threat, but he can struggle in on ball situations due to a lack of lateral quickness. He has shown that he a reliable piece on offense, that doesn't need the ball in his hands to have an impact on the game. He's likely shown enough in Chicago and over the course of the summer to feel good heading into the second year of a non-guaranteed deal, and could very well emerge as a real find of the scouting department (led by GM Gar Forman) considering he was signed as an undrafted free agent.

#5) Jonathan Gibson, 6'2, Guard, 28.6 years old, Mavericks, New Mexico State

EWA: 1.2
PER: 26.8
TS%: 63.9%
17.0 PTS, 3.0 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.5 STL, 17-37 3P, 50.1 FG%

Gibson, the 28-year-old veteran out of New Mexico State, was one of the more interesting stories at the Las Vegas Summer League as he earned himself a guaranteed contract with his play here. Gibson has had a journeymen's career up to this point spending time in Turkey, Israel, Italy, and most recently China, where he finished second in scoring in the league at 42 points per game.

Wherever he has gone in his career Gibson has been able to put the ball in the basket effectively, and the Las Vegas Summer League was no exception. He is at his best creating space and scoring with a wide range of moves or spotting up off the ball where he is a knockdown shooter. Gibson has a quick release, deep range, and comfortable shooting from deep off the dribble or in catch and shoot situations. He is not afraid to let it fly if he has any space or if his defender tries to duck under a screen. He shot 41% on 431 attempts from deep last year in China and finished fourth in Las Vegas in 3 pointers made per game at 2.8. At 6'2 Gibson is undersized for the shooting guard position, and he is not a true point guard by any means. With a three year contract in hand (first year fully guaranteed), Gibson will have a great opportunity heading into Mavericks training camp to see if he can carve out a NBA role.

#6) Norman Powell, 6'4, Shooting Guard, 23.1 years old, Raptors, UCLA

EWA: 1.1
PER: 28.2
TS%: 59.4%
19.8 PTS, 4.4 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.0 STL, 12-26 3P, 29-35 FT%, 42.6 FG%

Norman Powell followed up his solid rookie season with another strong showing at the Las Vegas Summer League. The #46 pick in 2015, who found himself splitting time between the NBA and D-League to start the season, earned the trust of the coaching staff in Toronto and ended up playing some valuable minutes during their playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Powell is a slashing guard with elite physical tools (including a 6'11 wingspan), who is at his best getting downhill or out in transition, using his strength and athletic ability to finish around the rim. He was not a strong 3-point shooter in college, but he has shown a great deal of improvement in that aspect of his game, shooting 38% on 114 attempts last season, and following that up with a 12-26 performance in Las Vegas. Powell has ball-handling and play making abilities, but he is more of a scoring guard who is looking to get into the paint and score, sometimes leading to some wild shots when the defense has collapsed around him. He has all the physical tools to guard multiple guard positions at the NBA level, and he will continue to grasp a better sense of how to be effective and use his tools on that end of the floor. Powell was acquired by the Raptors in a draft day trade for Greivis Vasquez (which also netted a 2017 first round pick), and is looking like a major steal considering where he was drafted.

#7) D'Angelo Russell, 6'5, Guard, 20.4 years old, Lakers, Ohio St

EWA: 1.0
PER: 27.4
TS%: 58.6%
21.8 PTS, 6.3 REB, 4.0 AST, 1.5 STL, 10-25 3P, 15-21 FT%, 47.7 FG%

Russell impressed at the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League looking like the player the Lakers expected when they took him with second overall selection in last years' draft. Russell operated a ton with the ball in his hands, playing with pace, and showing a solid balance between looking to score and creating for his teammates. He is much more comfortable shooting it off the dribble then he is catch and shoot situations, something he will improve as he spends more time playing off the ball. At just 20 years old, Russell sometimes plays the game with a bit of comfort and flash that leads to highlight plays, but can also lead to a high volume of turnovers as evidenced by his 4.5 per game in Las Vegas. Obviously he was a focal point of the game plan for the Lakers, but it is something he will have to continue to work on down the road to limit his careless mistakes. Russell will likely be the starting point guard for the young Lakers backcourt next season, and he will have a great chance to benefit from the veteran guidance of Jose Calderon.

#8), Vince Hunter, 6'8, Power Forward, 21.9 years old, Grizzlies, UTEP

EWA: 1.0
PER: 29.0
TS%: 57.6%
11.8 PTS, 7.0 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.8 STL, 1.0 BLK, 3.0 OREB, 11-21 FT%, 57.1% FG%

Hunter went undrafted last season out of UTEP and spent the majority of his season with the Kings D-League affiliate Reno Bighorns, before leaving for Panathinaikos in Greece after 33 games. He only played limited minutes in Vegas, but put together impressive per 40 averages of 21.6 points and 12.8 rebounds. Hunter is an excellent athlete, and at 6'8 he is at his best on hard rolls to the rim and using speed to beat opposing bigs down the floor in transition. He finishes very effectively around the basket whether it is through contact or above the rim. He has shown some face up game, but his ball handling abilities are still very much a work in progress and at this point he is at his best on straight line drives. Hunter is trying to stretch his game to include a perimeter jump shot, but that is still a developing part of his game. He is a very solid rebounder for his size, but often relies on his athletic ability rather than boxing out.

Defensively Hunter has the athleticism and mobility to guard multiple positions, as he learns the ins and outs of NBA defenses. Given the small ball movement in the NBA, Hunter seems like he should have a shot as long as he can develop more of a perimeter game and show that he can play with a consistent motor. He is only 21 years old and has plenty of upside.

#9) Jarnell Stokes, 6'9, Power Forward, 22.5 years old, Spurs, Tennessee

EWA: 1.0
PER: 36.8
TS%: 67.0%
8.8 PTS, 6.0 REB, 1.2 AST, 1.0 STL, .4 BLK, 2.8 OREB, 10-11 FT%, 17-28 FG%

Stokes has bounced around the NBA and the D-League after being taken with 35th overall pick in 2014. Last season he spent time briefly with Memphis, Miami, and New Orleans, while spending the majority of his season in the D-League with Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he earned MVP honors and led his team to the D-League Championship. Like some of the other players on this list, Stokes played limited minutes in Vegas, but while he was on the floor he was impressive, posting a PER of 36.8, highest in the Summer League amongst anyone who played more than one game. At 6'9, 263 Stokes is somewhat undersized for an NBA center, but he is strong, physical, and quick for a guy his size. Stokes plays with a great motor and finds a lot of his offense on hard dives to the rim and offensive rebounds, and also has an impressive face up game in the post where he looks to use his quickness and strength. He is not an elite athlete, but is effective using his size to create space and finish with efficiency around the rim. Last season with Sioux Falls he showed flashes of a very solid mid-range game, shooting 30-50 on jumpers inside the arc per Synergy. He didn't rely on his jump shot as much in Summer League, as he was able to get what he wanted around the rim. At just 22 years old with two years of pro experience under his belt, Stokes will look to capitalize on his successful last season and summer and potentially make his way back on to a NBA roster.

#10) Tyler Ulis, 5'10, Point Guard, 20.5 years old, Suns, Kentucky

EWA: 1.0
PER: 20.9
TS%: 47.3%
14.5 PTS, 2.5 REB, 6.3 AST, 2.8 STL, 5-16 3P, 12-16 FT%, 41.6 FG%

Ulis, the rookie point guard out of Kentucky had an impressive Summer League debut in Las Vegas after being selected with the 34th overall pick by Phoenix. At just 5'10, 150 pounds, Ulis looks extremely small on the court from a physical perspective, but he's got a ton of talent and showed major confidence in Vegas, as he hit a couple huge shots for his team. He doesn't back down because of his size, and is a leader and floor general when he has the ball in his hands. He has an excellent handle, and looks very comfortable making decisions out of the pick and roll, in drive and kick situations, and in transition. He finished second overall in assists per game at 6.3 and fourth overall in AST/TOV ratio at 3.5. Ulis already looks comfortable shooting the pocket jumper, and his 3-point shot looks mechanically sound and balanced, and should get more consistent with time. He will need to continue to show that he can consistently finish with floaters and runners because of his lack of size, as he will be challenged by length in the paint.

On the defensive end of the floor, Ulis has quick hands and competes but is obviously at a disadvantage because of his size and weight. He'll benefit from adding some strength as he gets to the NBA, but his size may always be an issue against bigger guards. Ulis may have a hard time finding consistent playing time as a rookie, being seated behind Bledsoe, Knight, Booker and many of the other Phoenix guards so it would not be surprising to see him spend some of his rookie season in the D-League.

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