David Thorpe, author of ESPN’s weekly Rookie Watch recently published his post-summer league rookie rankings. To no ones surprise, No. 1 draft pick John Wall topped the rookie rankings with a stellar performance in Las Vegas, averaging 23.5 points, 7.8 assists, and four rebounds per game.
The surprise comes in at No. 2, where Thorpe has a Nets first-round selection. However, it is not Derrick Favors. Instead, Thorpe went with Damion James, who averaged 18.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in Orlando earlier this month. Thorpe writes, “James started off just OK in Orlando and then took off from there. His great energy combined with a solid outside stroke and lots of confidence makes him a scoring machine who just keeps coming at his opponent. It’s fair to expect rotation minutes for him at the start of the season.”
Coming in at No. 3 is Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins, who showed his rebounding prowess in Las Vegas. The rankings start to get even more interesting after No. 3 with Notre Dame alumni Luke Harangody at No. 4. Thorpe describes Harangody as, “He doesn’t pass the eye test as far as NBA players are concerned, but he passes everything else. He shot the ball well, rebounded like a beast, and played just about as well as any rookie could hope to. I’m not sure he’ll play in the NBA at all this season, but he certainly showed that he has a future.”
Next, at No. 5, was the often troubled college player Derrick Caracter from UTEP after transferring from Louisville. Caracter put up 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game for the Lakers in Vegas. The Lakers seem to have found an NBA-ready player late in the second round with Caracter.
The rest of the top 20 is filled out by a lot of big named players such as Derrick Favors, Greg Monroe, Ed Davis, and Gordon Hayward. Number 2 overall pick Evan Turner came in at the last spot, number twenty overall when he averaged 9.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in Orlando.
Thorpe describes his performance in the summer league as, “Turner was, at best, a poor player in Orlando compared to any reasonable expectation — not locked in, bad body language and poor skills. But don’t get too alarmed. It’s a testament to his talent that he still made plays on the glass and had some good offensive moments. I suspect that while almost every other player spent three to eight weeks before July working on their games and working out for teams, Turner did little on-court stuff. No doubt he’ll look better in preseason and beyond.”
While the Summer League may not be the ultimate determining factor on how successful one’s NBA career will be, it definitely gives one insight into the player’s future. Players such as Stephen Curry struggled in the summer league but went on to have great rookie campaigns. Ultimately, the Summer League is just a way for players to get adjusted to the NBA game and for them to demonstrate their talents to their future employers so one should not panic if they did not perform how they would of liked to.