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Summer League: A Look Back

Summer League practice starts today for the Bucks at the Cousins Center, and we'll have plenty more on that later.

With a projected roster featuring Ramon Sessions, Joe Alexander, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Trey Johnson, it's a competition very much worth paying attention to. Other teams have released rosters for Summer League 2008, and the names include Rodney Stuckey, Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Al Thornton, Eric Gordon, Mike Conley, Javaris Crittenton, O.J. Mayo, and Rod Benson.

No doubt, the player's performances will be subjected to great scrutiny. But how much of what happens on the court in Vegas should stay in Vegas is open to interpretation and debate. My first post on my old blog was about the revealing nature of Summer League, but  it's also easy and tempting to read too much into a few games. Some players hint at a forthcoming breakout NBA year in Summer League, and others merely tease us with dominant games against lesser competition.

Anyone remember the Bucks' first Summer League game last year? Javaris Crittenton hit a game-winning bucket in a 66-64 loss to the Lakers. Here are a few more interesting notes from that opening game:

  • Jordan Farmar shot 1-8 with one assist, six turnovers, and seven fouls. Ouch.
  • Ramon Sessions went 0-3 with one assist in 10 minutes. Not so good either.
  • Rodney White scored 12 points on 4-8 from the field, along with three rebounds and two assists in a starting role for the Lakers. Former lottery pick putting it all together?
  • David Noel led the Bucks with 16 points and added six rebounds and two steals. Surely a rotation guy, right?

Naturally, Farmar and Sessions turned into two of the NBA's pleasant surprises and rising young point guards. White ended up playing in Puerto Rico for the Arecibo Captains while Noel bounced around from the D-League to Spain's DKV Joventut. These are just a couple examples of why you shouldn't necessarily declare Alexander the next great Buck or bust based on a Summer League showing.

Here are a handful more varying case studies from last year's Summer League and NBA seasons. Check out the main Summer League 2007 page to read up on all that went down.

  • Louis Williams led all scorers by averaging 25.2 points on 48.5 % shooting from the field. He added 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.6 steals, but also 6.4 turnovers in five Summer League games. He went on to have a breakout season for the Sixers, averaging 11.5 points, 3.2 assists, and providing a major bench and late-game presence.
  • Rodney Stuckey impressed in Summer League for the Pistons with 19.0 points and 4.0 rebounds. He broke into a part-time role in the regular season and opened eyes even wider with a group of strong games in the playoffs.
  • Nick Young shot 18.8 % on three-pointers in Summer League, and averaged a miserable 0.6 assists along with 3.2 turnovers per contest. In the regular season with the Wizards, he hit 40.0 % from long range and toasted the Bucks with a career-high 22 points to lead the Wizards to a 105-97 win on March 11.
  • Von Wafer lit up Vegas, averaging 24.2 points on 53.7 % shooting from the field and 44.0 % from outside in five Summer League games. He played eight games in the regular season for the Trail Blazers.
  • Nate Robinson won Summer League MVP honors, but hardly improved in his third regular season with the Knicks.