It’s July and all of the domestic European leagues have crowned their respective champions for the 2014/15 season. The FIBA U19 World Championships are in books with Team USA taking Gold. It’s time to focus sights on the some of the players who represent the future of the NBA. As NBA teams make their preparations for the upcoming 2015-16 season, young players (freshmen and sophomores) are tested and assessed by coaching staffs via events known as the NBA Summer Leagues.
There will be three leagues held this summer. The first of which is the 2015 Orlando Summer League, hosted by the Orlando Magic, which kicked off on the 4th of July and will run up to the 10th. The second league will be held in Utah from July 6-9, hosted by the Jazz. Lastly, and definitely not the least, is the Las Vegas League which is actually the biggest and has a tournament-style format. The Vegas league will run from July 10th to the 20th.
Two days into the 2015 Orlando Summer league and already more than a few players have turned their fair share of heads. As the hosts, the Orlando Magic fielded two teams (Blue & White). The Blue team took to the floor on Saturday to face the Los Angeles Clippers. The game ended in a thrilling 75-74 win for Orlando in overtime. Croatian rookie Mario Hezonja had a quiet night with just 12 points, but displayed the confidence he had in his shooting as he calmly drained a three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the extra period to push his team ahead for the win. Sophomore Aaron Gordon (photo above) wowed the crowed with his athleticism and aggressiveness. He finished the game with a monstrous double-double with 22 points and 18 rebounds. He did not get to play much during his rookie season as the forward was hampered by injuries. He looks to make a bigger splash this season with his now much-improved jump shot.
11th overall pick, Myles Turner, put up a stellar game for the Indiana Pacers in their game against the Miami Heat. He scored 20 points, grabbed eight boards and blocked three shots. He will be a player to watch on the Pacers’ roster this season, especially with the departure of center Roy Hibbert. Unfortunately for the Pacers, Turner’s effort was not enough, as the Heat went on to win the game 92-76. Miami was led by 10th overall pick Justise Winslow who paced his team with 15 points, three assists and two steals.
On Sunday, Detroit’s Stanley Johnson put on a clinic as led his team to a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He put up a game-high 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds. The 19-year-old, who was selected by the Pistons with the eighth overall pick showed that he may just be ready to make an instant impact for his team.
This is just the tip of the Summer League iceberg, so to speak, and there will be many more games for fans and analysts alike to assess and appreciate young NBA players. Who will stand out?