Summer Pro League – The First Half

Summer Pro League – The First Half
Jul 16, 2005, 01:42 am
Written by Richard Walker/ Pictures by Jim Hlavac

Miami Heat

Wayne Simien - Simien has looked very solid to start out, posting two 20 point games so far and excellent rebounding numbers throughout. He hasn't been as explosive as advertised, but he's been a workhorse on the court and has been particularly aggressive on the offensive glass. He has a good chance of contributing some strong minutes this upcoming season.


Matt Walsh - Walsh has shown flashes of a high basketball IQ, but has shot poorly throughout the SPL. Outside of one good game where he notched 9 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists he hasn't done anything that should warrant a contract. And yet the latest news out of Miami is that he's been given a 2 year deal worth about $1.5 million. Some have suggested that this might be a favor to Haslem and was done to entice him to stay. Unless his play improves dramatically over the second half of summer league expect him to be sent to the NBDL.

Dorell Wright - Dorell is still as athletic as ever, but not surprisingly still hasn't put it all together. This coupled with the news that he will likely miss the rest of the SPL after accidentally being hit in the mouth by Lakers guard Von Wafer make it hard to judge where he's at or likely going to end up.

Qyntel Woods - Woods is looking more and more like he might never focus his game and take advantage of his natural ability. He's not hitting his shots and he looks disinterested on the court. For example, in one of his better games he scored 17 points, but ended up taking 21 shots to do it. Woods has definitely looked better in previous summer leagues and you have to wonder if maybe giving him a second chance after Portland wasn't the right decision after all.


Dallas Mavericks

Scott Merritt - Merritt has been the most consistent player on the Mavericks SPL team, scoring with efficiency and boarding well. He has excellent footwork on the block and in one particular play on Saturday's game made a beautiful floater while in transition. Based solely on the first half he's a shoe-in to get an invite to camp.

David Logan - Logan is the only other standout besides Merritt on the Mavericks roster. He's not really a point guard so much as a scorer and it shows. Posting games of 22 and 27 he has the ability to put up points, but so far this summer he has more turnovers than assists. He's quick on the floor and can blow by defenders, but isn't really looking to pass the ball. Listed at 6'1 and only 170lbs he doesn't really have the NBA body to compete on the next level and the majority of his point production is more a function of a weak roster than anything else. Barring a complete 180 of his assist to turnover ratio Logan likely won't make it past camp.

Toronto Raptors

Charlie Villanueva - Villanueva put up some good numbers at the first game to start the SPL, but then tapered off in the next two. The rumors about him getting lost or disinterested occasionally on the floor appear to be true. Often times entire possessions go by where he fails to get involved. Unfortunately we might not get a chance to see him make a turnaround as he sat out Monday's game against the Lakers. I spoke with him briefly during halftime and apparently he tweaked an ankle. We'll likely have to wait until the season to see if he can capitalize on his potential and find a position that suits him on the team.

Joey Graham - Graham looks to have the most polished game of the Raptors players and has the NBA body to back it up. He's not particularly quick off the dribble and doesn't have the handles that many of the other players have, but he plays with a smoothness and confidence that many summer league players tend to lack. His numbers might not be overwhelming, but he looks like he might turn into a very solid role player.

Uros Slokar - Slokar has shown flashes of brilliance followed by mediocrity. For example, in one particular set of sequences in a game he got the ball in the post, faked left and spun right around his man and went to the rim for the layup. Later he grabbed a defensive board and tried to lead the break ending up throwing the ball out of bounds, after which he got the ball back on offense and shot a little fade away swish. He tends to follow a great play like a tip-in layup with a bad play like an offensive foul for hooking. Some of this might just be adjusting to the American game, but he's shown enough flashes that he'll get a long hard look from the Raptors.

Memphis Grizzlies

Hakim Warrick - Warrick is just as athletic as advertised and unfortunately just as skinny. He's got explosive hops and has put up a few monster dunks this summer, but his outside shot is poor and can be pushed around a bit defensively. Some people have compared him to Stromile Swift at the SPL, but that seems a poor comparison based on him replacing Swift in the lineup more than their actual skill sets. Swift is a significantly better defender and showed great timing on his boards and blocks while playing summer league ball. Warrick definitely has the physical ability to do what Swift does, but hasn't shown it yet. With a good amount of working out and training he could end up being a very good player in a few years time.

Los Angeles Lakers


Andrew Bynum - The Lakers selecting Bynum with their highest draft pick in years has put a lot of pressure on the high school kid's shoulders. At only 17 years of age, the 7' 270lbs Bynum and his rumored 36" vertical leap (off one foot) is a physical marvel for sure, but we may be years away from seeing how it all pans out. As it stands right now he has soft hands for a guy his size and doesn't look awkward running the floor which is a problem for young big men. His footwork is good, but it seems to be due to natural ability more than any learned skill. His timing is off in both rebounding and blocking shots, however, that's more of an adjustment to the speed of the game than any lack of talent. Despite his size he still needs to bulk up. He has a large lower base which allows him to plant himself firmly on the offensive end, but he does a poor job of boxing out on the defensive side of the floor. Interestingly, his defensive rotation and ability to defend the pick-and-roll are very good so far. He's caught a few alley-oop dunks in transition that have gotten the crowd going, but the majority of his scoring seems to be coming off the block or from offensive boards. His free throws are flat, but they go in consistently. Adding some more arc will improve them even more. The buzz on him amongst the NBA personnel and scouts I've spoken with has all been good with some registering surprise. I expect him to only play sparingly this year. It should be interesting to see where he is developmentally come next year's Summer Pro League.

Ronny Turiaf - Turiaf is going to be a fan favorite in Los Angeles. By the second half of the first game the crowds were cheering for him as soon as he got off the bench. He brings a hustle and aggressiveness that the Lakers are sorely lacking. He's had several put back dunks which have left the crowd buzzing for minutes afterwards and he seems to thrive on contact, pump-faking and taking the foul and the bucket many times so far. He plays good post defense and rotates well, although he tends to slap at the ball a lot. He often takes intentional fouls rather than letting a guy score from underneath, which is both good and bad depending on the situation. It was clear from game one that Turiaf would make the Laker roster and reportedly they have signed him to a two year contract. As a side note, he's one of the friendliest and funniest guys in the entire league this summer, and would appear to be a good fit in any locker room.


Sasha Vujacic - Last year's first round pick Sasha Vujacic has taken a lot of criticism from Laker fans. There were better players on the board when they chose him, but apparently Mitch had given him a promise and took him anyway. After last year's SPL Sasha had two things to work on: 1) Bulking up and 2) Playing defense. He told me that he has gained some muscle weight and his arms do look bigger than last years, but frankly that doesn't say much. Defensively he rotates much better and is a better one-on-one defender although still slower laterally than he should be. His shooting form is excellent which makes his inconsistent jumper a mystery to most of the people I've spoken with. Supposedly he's lights-out in practice, but is having trouble in the transition from the gym to the game. He's been turnover prone in the first half of the league, but a lot of that appears to be the new players not understanding the complicated triangle offense. He's played almost exclusively shooting guard this summer since there's so many point guards trying to make the team and that might be hindering him a bit. The Lakers will likely sign a point guard with their MLE or trade for one this off-season so the majority of Vujacic's minutes may end up coming behind Kobe at the 2-guard anyway. Regardless, when he was drafted he was a three year project and so far between years one and two he seems to be on the right track.

Tony Bobbitt - There's no getting around it: Tony Bobbitt has looked terrible this summer. Last year when his shot wasn't falling he made up for it on the defensive end. This year he's been poor on both sides of the floor. Despite being on the roster last year for the Lakers he likely won't get a camp invite from what he's shown so far.

Marcus Douthit - After bringing a solid defensive presence to the Lakers SPL team last year the former 2nd round pick was sent off to Europe to learn some offensive skills. The good news is that Douthit now posses a mid-range game and little dribble drive move that can manufacture himself some points. The bad news is that he seems to have forgotten how to play defense. Expect him to be sent back to Europe.

William "Smush" Parker - Smush has probably been the most surprising of the Laker invitees. His defense against smaller quicker guards has been outstanding; something the Lakers need desperately. He's very quick laterally and has long arms which are active. He's surprisingly athletic as well, throwing down a reverse drunk in transition in one of the games. Barring some unforeseen circumstances he'll get a camp invite for sure and has a very good chance of making the team as both a defensive stopper and second point guard.

Von Wafer – The Lakers surprised a lot of people when they selected Von Wafer in the 2nd round, but he definitely has the ability to be picked there. Wafer is extremely athletic, plays good defense and hustles after the ball. His shot the first few games was flawless, but has come back down to earth since then. Regardless, Wafer has a tremendous amount of upside and he will likely be held on to in one form or another with an outside chance of making the team.


Will Conroy - Conroy has shown that he can be a very consistent prototypical point guard with strong defensive skills. He makes smart plays on offense and is capable of locking his man down for stretches on defense. Conroy played only 5 minutes and hit only one shot in Wednesday's game against the Heat, but it was the game winner. He definitely has a shot to make an NBA team, but if roster spot constraints arise the Lakers would likely choose Smush Parker or Von Wafer over Conroy based solely on potential.

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