Summer in the NBA is almost synonymous with free agency and the NBA Summer League held in Las Vegas, Orlando and (for the first year) Salt Lake City, Utah.
Product of Society had the opportunity to be inside of the Magic practice facility to soak up the atmosphere which included the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin Durant and at least one representative from every NBA team.
It is astonishing to consider the great amount of talent that lies on the FRINGES OF THE NBA we aren’t talking about roster spots for but a handful of these guys, and there is definitely more deserving members than there are jobs. Whatever the case its awesome to see the 10th, 11th and 12th men have a chance to play increased roles, when normally they’re reduced to being well paid cheerleaders and practice players. We highlighted our favorite “All-Undergroud” Team, lets get to it:
Nate Wolters — 6’5 — College: South Dakota St. — 38th Overall Pick 2013 Draft
Theres really nothing flawed in Nate Wolters’ game. Really. He just does not excel especially well in any area and with a lack of elite athleticism it makes him a possible liability on the defensive end (think about the best PG/SGs).
The good news is that Wolters has great size at the PG position and the 3rd year guard plays at a pace that leads you to believe that he could hang around in the league for another 5-7 years bouncing from team to team. An above average shooter and a crafty playmaker, Nate Wolters is the kind of guy that if put in the right environment could end up changing the course of a game/series.
Example: If Wolters is put in the position of Matthew Dellevedova throughout the NBA playoffs, I believe he performs better and improves the Cavs chance to win the championship. Call me crazy.
Semaj Christon — 6’3 — College: Xavier — Undrafted
Christon falls in the category of a guy that just needs experience playing the NBA game. He has such great intangibles and ability to control the flow of the game. The consistency as a floor spacer and in Pick and Roll situations just isn’t there yet. Semaj has plenty of time to learn though, he was born in November of ’92 so he’s still a pup in terms of development. It will be interesting to see how his development continues, Christon could easily be the next in line of dynamic lead guards to come out of the Thunder organization.
Major props to Sam Presti, the former Spurs staff member, and Troy Weaver (Thunder personnel guru) for continuing to find and develop talent at the point/combo guard position.
Joseph Young — 6’2 — College: Oregon — 43rd Overall Pick 2015 Draft
Joseph Young is a flat out player and big-time scorer. It is arguable that the Pacers got one of the best values of the 2015 NBA Draft when they took Young with the 43rd pick. Young has the ability to get a shot off just about any time he wants to, that and other abilities allowed him to lead the 2015 Orlando Summer League in scoring even after suffering from an illness the days leading up to the event.
The Houston native is the son of Michael Young who was an outstanding player at the University of Houston during the Phi Slamma Jamma era and found his stride as a RS-senior for Oregon averaging 20.7 points and 4.4 assists.
Young could see himself playing an important role if the Pacers plan to make it back into the playoff hunt out East. They are in need of scoring to take some of the pressure off of Paul George and Co. and strengthening a team weakness through the draft is never a bad idea!
Stanley Johnson — 6’7 — College: Arizona — 8th Overall Pick 2015 Draft
In a league full of grown men, there can’t be many rookies who come into the NBA dressed more the part than Stanley Johnson. At 6’7/245 Johnson has the prototypical body of an NBA wing at the tender age of 20 years old. Combine that with a noticeable confidence and a smooth offensive feel, and you have the makings of a longtime NBA All-Star.
The question marks in Johnson’s game come on the defensive end and beyond the 3-point arc. If Johnson can consistently focus on defending the other team’s best player and knock down open jumpers at a +40% clip, he’ll be around for another 15-17 seasons. His feel and athleticism are elite and the young kid seems to really enjoy playing the game, for Stanley Johnson, the sky is the limit!
Aaron Gordon (+the Magic Young guns) — 6’8 — College: Arizona — 4th Overall Pick 2014 Draft
Maybe the most impressive performance throughout the week. It is obvious that Aaron Gordon took his personal improvement extremely serious over the last 3-4 months. Gordon’s shooting mechanics and consistency was once thought of as a huge question mark for the 2nd year hybrid wing/stretch 4. However, over the course of the 7-day event it became clear that Gordon had turned that weakness into a strength. Displaying a wide array of dribble moves and the confidence to take and make in between jump shots.
The Orlando Magic are going to be one of the most fun teams to watch this season and over the next 3-5 years because of the collection of young talent they have acquired over the last 3 NBA drafts.
First with Victor Oladipo (2013), then both Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton were selected in the first round (2014) and now Mario Hazonja with a top 5 pick in the latest draft. Rob Hennigan and Matt Lloyd deserve a lot of the credit but it will be interesting to see if the Magic can stay healthy and show the level of improvement that their roster suggests they should.
The Eastern conference is the side you want to be on with a talented but unproven team. I would be surprised if the Magic aren’t pushing to grab the 6th, 7th or 8th seed in next years NBA Playoffs.
The summer league is already underway in Las Vegas and POS will be bringing a live recap from the strip over the next couple of days. Post the player you’ve been most impressed by in our comments and continue to enjoy the summer league action wherever you are!