Five former UConn players traveled to Las Vegas (and/or Orlando) last week for the NBA's summer league with the hopes of catching on or improving their standing with a pro team. Only 1 1/2 made it back alive. These are their stories.
Team(s): Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies
Stats: 7.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 41.0 FG%, 53.3 FT%, 9 G, 4 GS, 1.7 TOs, 0.9 bpg
Recap: Just like last year, Adrien pulled the double-dip at summer league, playing in both the Orlando and Vegas versions of the NBA's summer session.
Physically, Adrien looked to be more prepared, as he showed off a more-chiseled physique than at this time last year (my guess is he spent his weekends wrestling bulls. I'll look into it.)
He showed improvement in his game, as well. He started three of four games with the Magic and averaged a very Adrien-esque 8.5 points and 7.3 rebounds. However, while he battled for boards and threw down dunks like the wooyah of old, Adrien didn't show much else in the few times I watched him. Although he proved decent in his time with the Magic, he certainly didn't shine, and ultimately was overshadowed by other frontcourt players like Patrick Ewing Jr. and Paul Davis. Yes, that Paul Davis.
And with the Grizzlies, a team more concerned with developing their own surplus of young talent rather than finding end-of-the-bench fillers, Adrien didn't get as much playing time, finishing with averages of 5.2 points and 7.8 rebounds in 17.2 minutes a game.
Adrien can rebound; that's nothing new. But his abilities on the boards aren't good enough to overcome his other flaws (he's still not a factor on offense in the pros, his post moves are OK at best, and he lacks much of a faceup game -- a huge limitation for a 6-7 power forward). His continued struggles from the free-throw line don't help much, either.
Prediction: He can still do dirty work like Norm MacDonald, but he'll likely wind up across the pond for at least another season.
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Stats: 7.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.2 apg, 28.1 FG% (!!!!), 60.0 FT%, 5G/0S, 14.6 mpg
Recap: Avert your eyes; it gets uglier.
Not only did Dyson shoot 9-for-32 from the floor, but he provided little else to the Cavs' summer-league team besides a few buckets a game, finishing with under two rebounds and assists a game ... combined. And once you take out a 18-point outburst in Cleveland's final game, in which J.J. Hickson didn't play, his average slumps to a measly 4.25 points.
Just a disaster.
Prediction: Dyson's a longshot for a training camp spot, and, at this point, seems destined for a trip overseas.
Team: Phoenix Suns
Stats: 3.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 50.0 FG%, 5G/0S, 2.2 tpg, 10.6 mpg
Recap: Edwards was a non-factor for the Suns, finishing with almost as many turnovers (11) as rebounds (14).
Prediction: If he wants to continue playing, Edwards' best, and possibly only option will come abroad, likely in a country with 15 or more letters in its name.
Team: Orlando Magic
Stats: 5.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 50.0 FG%, 55.6 FT%, 5G/3S, 26.4 mpg
Recap: Despite falling to the end of the second round in the NBA draft, there was a heaping dose of optimism surrounding Robinson as he entered summer league, mostly because of it's become the natural reaction to his out-of-this-world athleticism.
But to those who have been tantalized by his unbelievable hops and dazzling dunks, and subsequently letdown by his inability to put it all together or even display some semblance of consistency, Stan's poor performance in Orlando is not much of a surprise.
In the few games that I watched, Robinson turned in the type of performances we've come to expect from him: a highlight dunk here and there, but for the majority of time, he just floated through the game without doing much to actually contribute.
Ben Q Rock of SB Nation's "Orlando Pinstriped Post" summed it up quite nicely:
During Summer-League play, I spoke to a source familiar with the Magic's thinking who said that Robinson is "deficient" in every part of the game that doesn't involve athleticism, which he said would make it "tough" to play successfully under Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.
It's not that Stanley can't do it; the physical part was never an issue with him. But the mental aspect has never been there, and it still isn't; not only did Sticks appear lost most of the time, but he also looked tentative and nervous.
Which is understandable, especially considering his personality. But for a second-rounder unassured a spot on Orlando's roster, it's another check in the ever-growing "negatives" section of his resume.
Prediction: Unless he can make a HUGE leap in training camp, he'll likely end up in the D-League for at least a year.
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Stats: 11.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.8 bpg, 52.3 FG%, 71.4 FT%, 5 G/S
Thabeet has made progress on offense. I'm sure of that. I watched a few Grizzlies games, and each time I saw Theebz in action I was impressed by the way he moved without the ball and was constantly looked for space. For a player who basically just stood around in the low blocks for three years at UConn, that's a pretty big development. (Scouts Inc.'s David Thorpe echoed those feelings.)
There's still long way to go. He still gets manhandled in the post -- by D-Leaguers and Euroleaguers -- and still catches the ball too low. Most of which were on display in his final game on Sunday against the Spurs, according to Matt Moore of the TrueHoop Network:
But against the Spurs, every concern scouts had about him sprang to life. At one point the 7-foot Thabeet actually missed a layup by hitting the underside of the rim. His lack of perimeter defensive skill was on display as Eric Dawson continually hurt him from midrange.
But there are signs of progress, and more and more words or praised be thrown Thabeet's way.
From the Commerical Appeal's Ronald Tillery:
Coach Lionel Hollins said Thabeet is light-years better than he was at this time a year ago. The major improvements are clearly with Thabeet's court awareness and offensive aptitude. His timing looked better on blocked shots and Thabeet did a better job of scoring -- even with a short-range jump shot -- this summer.
Prediction: Thabeet likely won't see another stint in the D-League (though he could probably use it), but he will still need to show more in order to earn more playing time this season for Memphis, which already has the promising Marc Gasol entrenched at center.