Kurt Helin

Houston Rockets v Charlotte Hornets

Top 10 plays from Las Vegas Summer League (VIDEO)

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For most of the players at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the goal is to get noticed. They are trying to impress a team — domestic or foreign — enough to pay the to play basketball next season. That leads to guys playing fast, aggressive, and at times recklessly.

It also leads to some highlight plays.

Courtesy the fine folks at NBA.com, above are the top 10 plays from Summer League in Las Vegas. Enjoy.

 

Spurs give Jimmer Fredette training camp contract, chance to make roster

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The San Antonio Spurs and their system have revived the careers of many shooters — the Spurs don’t ask them to do anything but play to their strengths. Marco Belinelli was just the most recent.

Now Jimmer Fredette will get his chance.

The Spurs and Fredette have reached a deal, something first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The Spurs themselves have since confirmed the deal is done.

The cult of Jimmer may have shrunk, but it still exists — there are people convinced that Fredette would be an NBA star if he just got a chance. The reality is he’s had a lot of chances with different coaches and different styles, and he has not been able to flourish in any of it. For good reasons. He can shoot the rock — he’s a career 38.1 percent from three, although that fell to 18.8 percent last season in New Orleans — but he’s not the point guard/playmaker at the NBA level he thinks he can be. However, the bigger problem has been at the other end of the court — the second he steps on the court other teams go at his defense. That has limited when and where coaches will use him.

There is no better place, no better system to change that narrative around in than San Antonio. The Spurs make shooters look good, Fredette is going to get his chance. His best chance. But he’s going to have to play better than he has at any other stop to make this work.

PBT Podcast: Wrapping up NBA Summer League, Ty Lawson trade

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The NBA’s summer season is winding down, but there are still a few ends to talk about and wrap up.

One is the trade of Ty Lawson to Houston Rockets and why that is a good move for both sides of the deal (but could be a home run for Houston).

Then there is the NBA Summer League — how did Karl Anthony-Towns look? DeAngelo Russell? Emmanuel Mudiay? Seth Curry? And on down the line.

We spend most of this podcast making sure what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas, with a conversation between PBT’s Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard.

Barring major news, this is the last NBC’s PBT podcast until the fall and NBA training camps open again (we will be back then) Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Five unexpected impressive players from Las Vegas Summer League

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Heading into the Las Vegas Summer League, it was expected Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, and some other big names would impress.

But part of the fun of Summer League is lesser known guys who unexpectedly jump up and grab your attention — and the attention of teams. Myself and Sean Highkin of ProBasketballTalk were in Vegas, and here are five guys that unexpectedly turned our heads.

1) Jonathon Simmons (Spurs). He won the MVP of the championship game scoring 23 points that night, but he had been playing well all Summer League averaging 17 points a game on 51.9 percent shooting. He beats guys off the dribble and knows how to finish inside — he did that well at the D-League level last season also. He just signed a guaranteed contract for this coming season with the Spurs, he may not get a lot of playing time (Kawhi Leonard will get the bulk of the minutes at the three, Simmons Summer League teammate Kyle Anderson may get some run there) but he will get a chance to prove he can keep scoring efficiently at the next level.

2) ScottieWilbekin (Sixers). The former Florida Gator, who spent last season playing in Australia, turned heads with his hustle, averaging 14.4 points per game and playing good defense. He did the same thing at the Orlando Summer League (playing for the Magic), and between the two Summer League’s he shot 42 percent from three. He just signed a four-year contract with the Sixers,  with the first two years guaranteed. The Sixers are crowded at the point guard spot, but he will get his chance.

3) Maurice Ndour (Knicks). He fit well in the vague attempt at the triangle offense New York ran at Summer League. He averaged 9.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a game, and he shot 51.2 percent. He’s got good footwork, hustles on defense and uses his length to be disruptive, he can score in around the basket, and he plays with constant energy. In a game against the Sixers he had six straight points late in a close game, the team turned to him to get buckets. He impressed Knicks management, but coach Derek Fisher said the team might not have a roster spot to give him.

“I don’t know if there’s any more he can do,” Fisher said of Ndour making the Knicks roster. “I think he’s doing everything that’s at least in his control to be a guy that — whether it’s our team, hopefully so, but there are 29 other teams — he’s giving teams a look that he can play at this level and be pretty good at it.”

4) Jordan Mickey (Boston). He looked like a potential great second-round pick (33) by the Celtics. Mickey averaged 13.8 points per game on 52.9 percent shooting, plus pulled down 9.6 rebounds a game. Defensively he was a strong rim protector, averaging 2.6 blocks per game. Mickey just signed a four-year deal (the first two years guaranteed) with the Celtics, which is a fantastic deal for Boston, Mickey could develop into a reliable rotation player for them up front.

5) Alan Williams (Rockets). Loved by the stats guys but undrafted out of UC Santa Barbara (I saw him play in person multiple times in college and would not have predicted this), he looked fantastic in Las Vegas. Williams averaged 20.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting, plus he grabbed 11.5 rebounds a game. He’s a free agent and while Houston may not pick him up it would be shocking to think nobody is going to give him an invite to training camp and a chance to make a roster.

James Harden, Stephen Curry win big at Players’ Choice awards

BET Presents The Players' Awards - Backstage
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Finally, NBA players have had their voices heard.

So long silenced (it’s not like there is media broadcasting much of what they say), the players got the chance to vote and make their choices for some of the top awards in the NBA. The Players’ Awards ceremony — put on by the National Basketball Players’ Association (the players’ union) — took place at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas and was broadcast on BET Tuesday night.

Who won? Here is the list:

MVP: James Harden, Houston Rockets
Best defender: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Hardest to guard: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Most clutch: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Coach you most want to play for: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Best Homecourt Advantage: Oracle Arena, Golden State Warriors
Player you secretly wish was on your team: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s a secret guys want to play with LeBron?

Ray Allen and Allen Iverson also won awards.

What you think of the players’ vote likely largely depends on whether you think Harden should have won MVP over Curry (I don’t, but it’s not like Harden was a bad choice, he was a close second). Or you think Jordan should have won the defensive award over Kawhi Leonard (who won Defensive Player of the Year).

If this was a hit with players, I’m sure the players’ union will continue to put it on, I’d expect we’ll see it for a few more years at least.