With Friday marking the end of the summer league season for all teams playing in the consolation bracket, it was the final opportunity for a gross majority of participants to make the case for themselves as being regular season NBA material.
Make no mistake, these games may be exhibition games in the grand scheme of things, but to the participants, this is their livelihood, and for many, it is the final time they will play basketball on American soil. All of that shows in the competitive nature of these contests.
And yes, what also shows is that some players belong and others don’t. As always, there are studs, and there are duds.
Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves): It’s easy to spot a big man that belongs on the court, and Gorgui Dieng certainly looked the part. He moved beautifully and never got lost on defense. He challenged shots, recorded three blocks and was a consistent presence. He also chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds and was instrumental in the Timberwolves dominating the Pelicans, 97-78.
Jerelle Benimon (Denver Nuggets): Benimon went undrafted in the 2014 draft and desperately needed to good performance on Friday night. That’s exactly what he turned in. He shot an efficient 7-for-12 from the field and turned in an impressive 17 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. His Nuggets lost 83-77, but it had little to do with what the team got from its starting power forward.
Devin Ebanks (D-League Select): Even casual NBA fans know of Ebanks, who started 15 games for the Los Angeles Lakers between 2011 and 2013. He was subsequently signed by the Dallas Mavericks and waived in 2013 before finding his way to the D-League. One of its standout performers, Ebanks has become a D-League All-Star and looked like it on Friday night. His 23 points came on an inefficient 6-for-17 shooting night, but he showed an ability to get to the basket and grabbed an impressive 15 rebounds in a 91-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks): Not much needs to be said about Parker, who most NBA fans know quite well after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2014 draft. Parker had six turnovers, but that is easy to overlook considering his 8-for-15 shooting, 20 points, 15 rebounds, two assists. He led his Bucks to a 79-74 victory and is looking forward to teaming up with Giannis Antetokounmpo and being led by Jason Kidd. With him, the forecast may be brighter in Milwaukee.
Archie Goodwin (Phoenix Suns): Goodwin’s Suns got drubbed by 26 points in a game in which he was a minus-26. In theory, they may have been better off without him and his 3-for-12 shooting performance. He scored 13 points in 32 minutes, while his Suns were pummeled by the Dallas Mavericks, 88-62.
Utah Jazz First Quarter: Although they ended up winning the game, we have to single out the Utah Jazz for their futile first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Jazz managed to hit just one of their 16 first quarter field goal attempts and scored four points. We’ll also point out that Dante Exum shot a combined 12-for-39 over the course of his summer league. That is certainly worthy of being called a dud.
Scott Machado (Toronto Raptors): The 24-year-old New Yorker went undrafted after declaring for the 2012 draft but has been staying relevant in NBA circles. His brief tenures with the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors have been flanked by stays in the D-League. He is still trying to prove himself, but his 21-minute performance against the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t really help his cause. Although the Raptors won 64-60, Machado scored just four points on 0-for-6 shooting from the field. He also had two turnovers in 21 minutes.
Rodrigue Beaubois (Los Angeles Lakers): It wasn’t too long ago that Beaubois was busy blazing down NBA floors as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Today, he is fighting for a roster spot and plodding down summer league courts in July. He was far from the best player on the floor in the Lakers’ 83-77 win over the Denver Nuggets, wherein Beaubois shot 2-for-6 en route to a six-point, three-rebound, 22-minute night.
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