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Las Vegas Summer League: 3 Up, 3 Down

We’ve hit the end of the “regular season” of the Las Vegas Summer League, and rookies, second-year returnees and top D-League and overseas talent have shown their skills in front of GMs and scouts.

It’s easy to look at raw numbers and say who’s impressed, but we’re going to look at potential impact players for next year. Unimpressive performers will be those who were thought to make an impact next year, but haven’t taken the step many anticipated. Which players have impressed and disappointed over the first five days of play?

THREE UP

Dwight Powell 6-11 240 PF/C Dallas Mavericks

Stats
20.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.3 spg, 0.7 bpg (three games)

Powell is starting to solidify the backup power forward spot behind Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki. His ability off the bounce as a stretch 4 is perfect for coach Rick Carlisle’s system, but he needs to continue improving his outside shot (25.0 percent from three in Las Vegas) to become more of a threat offensively.

Powell has added some much-needed weight and it’s helped him as a rebounder (9.3 per game) and defender. Powell is still turnover prone and foul prone, and he’ll need to improve those two aspects of his game in order to become a key component off the bench for the Mavs next season.

Kyle Anderson 6-9 230 SF San Antonio Spurs

Stats
17.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.0 bpg (three games)

Anderson has improved drastically from last summer, but still needs to gain consistency from the perimeter. Anderson does a nice job of using his handle to get to the line despite his lack of athleticism, and he could be used as a primary ball handler off the bench in the Spurs’ system.

Thanks to a big summer of free agency, the Spurs had to sacrifice some depth for the upcoming season, and Anderson should have a role because of it. Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili and Anderson will form a formidable perimeter threesome off the bench, with versatile Boris Diaw and forward/center David West rounding out the group.

Glen Rice Jr. 6-6 205 SG/SF Houston Rockets

Stats
22.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.7 spg (three games)

Rice would be higher on this list had he not dominated similar competition in the past, only to not make an impact at the NBA level. Rice is second in scoring in the Summer League at 22.7 per game in three games, but that’s not what has him on this list.

The swingman has shown improvement from the perimeter while in Las Vegas, shooting 40.0 percent from three-point range on 6.7 attempts per game. Rice has also been a force defensively, coming up with eight steals in three games. Rice is also a solid rebounder and a willing passer from the wing; this versatility makes him intriguing as a possible bench contributor for the Rockets as soon as this year.

Honorable mention

Allen Crabbe SG Portland Trail Blazers – Crabbe has impressed in Summer League and is looking to take advantage of the minutes left by shooting guards Arron Afflalo and Wesley Matthews.

Jahlil Okafor C Philadelphia 76ers – Okafor’s face-up game has been more impressive than his ability in the post, and he’s been pretty darn good in the post.

Jordan Mickey PF Boston Celtics – Mickey is first in the league in blocks and second in rebounds, both of which translate very well to the NBA.

THREE DOWN

Marcus Smart 6-4 225 PG/SG Boston Celtics

Stats
12.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 rpg, 2.5 apg (two games)

Smart had a much better showing in Utah, going off for over 20 per game and leading the Celtics to the finale. But in Las Vegas, Smart has shown he’s still got a ways to go offensively, as he’s shot just 6-of-28 from the field and 4-of-19 from three through two games thus far.

With incoming rookie point guard Terry Rozier proving to be a much better offensive option with the same defensive mentality, there have been questions about Smart being on the trading block. Smart brings more size and versatility to play either backcourt position, but if he’s unable to figure it out on the offensive side of the floor, his NBA future in Boston could be a lot shorter than originally anticipated.

Joe Harris 6-6 225 SG/SF Cleveland Cavaliers

Stats
9.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.3 apg (three games)

For a second-year swingman who has been known to have a sweet shooting stroke, Harris has struggled from deep through Cleveland’s first three Summer League games. Harris is shooting 25.0 percent from the field(!) and 29.4 percent from three-point range, and he hasn’t contributed in other areas either.

Harris has averaged more combined personal fouls and turnovers per game than rebounds and assists per game. The final “regular season” game in Las Vegas was his best outing, as he shot 4-of-8 from three for 13 points, but he still has a ways to go if he wants to make Cleveland’s roster next year.

Trey Lyles 6-10 250 PF Utah Jazz

Stats
10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg 1.2 spg (three games)

Lyles is still only a rookie, but the fact he’s struggled so much is somewhat worrisome. He’s shot 31.4 percent from the field and 1-of-12 (4.6 percent) from three-point range through three games. The problem is that Lyles isn’t much of a defender either, and if he struggles to contribute on offense, how does he impact the game?

Lyles came into the NBA as a relative unknown thanks to the lack of playing time on a loaded front line at Kentucky. It’s a little too early to call this pick a mistake, but Utah already has its front line of the future and solid depth at the position. Don’t be surprised if Lyles sees time in the D-League next season before eventually making a bigger impact down the line.

Honorable mention

Bruno Caboclo SF/PF Toronto Raptors – Caboclo’s had his bright spots, but the efficiency and basketball IQ still aren’t even close to an NBA level right now.

Zach LaVine PG/SG Minnesota Timberwolves – LaVine should be dominating this event, but he gets by using his athleticism instead of skill.

Justin Anderson SG/SF Dallas Mavericks – Anderson was thought to be one of the most NBA-ready wings in this past draft class, but has struggled mightily with shooting in his first Summer League.

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