Sunday, July 5, 2015

Day one, Orlando NBA Summer League: James Ennis stars, Myles Turner great.

(Editor's note: We recap summer play, highlighting those who actually performed well in the games. Too often media coverage of summer league is pre-conceived. Major TV networks will pick out the highest draft picks, show you their highlights and regularly bypass the players who actually were difference makers in the games. Our mission is to educate ourselves with you along for the read.)

Ennis balled out on Saturday
As summer league teams go, the 2015 Miami Heat entrant is loaded. They have four current members of their NBA squad on their summer roster. Saturday the Heat were led by second-year pro James Ennis, the most efficient player on a winning team during play on the opening day of the Orlando NBA Summer League. The active wing from Long Beach State scored 13 points (5-11 fg, 1-3 3-pt., 2-2 FT), grabbed seven rebounds and dished five assists in 22 minutes. The Heat defeated the Pacers 92-76. 

Our Hoop Obsession All-Summer League Team for July 4, 2015. 

Point Guards: Keith Appling - Orlando (White). ...Appling scored 17 points (4-7 FG, 0-1 3-pt., 9-10 FT), four assists, and four steals in 25 minutes. His Orlando White team beat the Detroit Pistons 87-76. Appling spent last season in the D-League with the L.A. Defenders, and Erie Bayhawks. 

Russ Smith - Memphis. ...Smith was his normal speedy self. He broke down the Brooklyn defense on his way to eight points (3-6 FG, 0-1 3-pt., 2-2 FT), eight assists, and three steals in 29 minutes.  Smith is a second year pro from Louisville. The Grizzlies beat the Nets 81-73. 

Shooting Guards: Jarell Eddie - Indiana. ...Eddie scored 16 points (6-9 FG, 4-6 3-pt.) and grabbed six rebounds in 26 minutes. Eddie spent last season in Boston's training camp before being waived. He then played in the D-League (Austin), and earned a March, ten-day, call up to the Atlanta Hawks. 

Josh Richardson - Miami  ...Richardson, a second round draft pick (40th overall) of the Heat created havoc defensively. He scored 14 points (2-6 FG, 1-2 3-pt., 9-9 FT), and added two steals, and two blocked shots in 22 minutes. 

Small Forwards: Taylor Braun - Orlando (White). ...Braun knocked down deep shots and was mistake free (after a first shot jitters airball) in 20 minutes. He scored eight points (3-4 FG, 2-2 3-pt.), grabbed five boards, and dished three assists. Braun played in Belgium last season after a stellar career at North Dakota St. 

Gordon owned the boards
Aaron Gordon - Orlando (Blue). ...Gordon showed off his ability to "quick-jump" in an exciting 75-74 overtime win for the Magic's Blue team over the Clippers. Gordon collected 22 points (8-18 FG, 2-5 3-pt., 4-10 FT), 18 rebounds , and two blocked shots in 33 minutes. 

Power Forwards: Talib Zanna - Oklahoma City. ...Zanna is a victim of the shrinking class of NBA traditional power forwards. Had Zanna come along 15 years ago he would certainly be employed full-time in the league. He plays smart ball, rarely taking a bad shot. Saturday, Zanna scored eight points, with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, a blocked shot and zero turnovers in 23 minutes. He went undrafted out of Pitt in 2014. ...Zanna and the Thunder beat the Charlotte Hornets 76-74.

Frank Kaminsky - Hornets. ...Kaminsky, the ninth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, started slowly but found his groove in the second half. He scored 19 points (7-19 FG, 4-8 3-pt, 1-1 FT), and grabbed a dozen rebounds. Kaminsky hit four three-point shots, keeping defenders off-balance. His deep shot success set up later drives to the hoop. 

Branden Dawson - Clippers. ...Dawson's athletic gifts were on full display as he racked up 14 points and 14 rebounds (27 minutes). The rookie from Michigan State had three jaw-dropping dunks on the day. 

Centers: Myles Turner - Pacers. ...In our opinion, the most impressive player of the day was Myles Turner. The eleventh pick in the 2015 NBA Draft showed his feathery shooting touch and his ability to do the required work of blocking shots and rebounding. Turner scored 20 points (8-11 FG, 1-1 3-pt., 3-3 FT) with eight rebounds, and three blocked shots in 28 minutes. 

Keith Benson - Orlando (White). ...Benson had 17 points (9-15 FG, 1-1 FT), four boards, and three blocked shots in 28 minutes. Benson was pick 48 in the 2011 NBA Draft. Benson spent last season in the Lithuanian LKL. 

Notes: Three players that logged at least 20 minutes had efficiency ratings less than zero. The biggest stinker of the day was Solomon Hill who looked horribly beefed up. Hill scored just four points in 26 minutes on 1-10 FG. ...Darrun Hilliard, a second round pick out of Villanova also was terrible. He went 2-10 FG, with a minus 27 on the plus/minus scale for the Pistons. ...Finally, Markel Brown struggled in the Nets loss. Brown made just 1-7 FG, with five turnovers in 22 minutes. 

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