Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I will be recapping how former Hoosiers performed during Summer League play. Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:
Though often overlooked, the NBA Summer League is a very fascinating part of the NBA season. It’s a unique setting that helps introduce new names to NBA fans and offers teams a chance to develop its unproven players in an exhibition-game format.
The NBA Summer League caters to two different groups of players. For rookies and some inexperienced second/third-year players, the Summer League is a place to grow your skills and make the transition to playing meaningful minutes during the course of the NBA season. We’ll call this “Group A”, and this group is allowed to be themselves and make mistakes as long as they learn from them.
However for the other group (which we’ll call “Group B”) the margin for error is nowhere near as big. This group consists of players not currently on an NBA roster, either because they played in the NBA Development League (D-League) last year or they just went undrafted. For these players this is basically a tryout for the team they are playing for and if they don’t give the coaches a reason to invest time and training into them, they’ll get pushed aside in favor of those already signed immediately.
Indiana University saw four former players (one in Group A and three in Group B) participate in NBA Summer League this year so for this edition of Hoosiers In The NBA I’m going to take a look at each player’s overall performance and decide whether or not they succeeded in meeting their necessary goals.
Noah Vonleh, Portland Trail Blazers
Summer League Stats: 12.0ppg, 8.8rpg, 1.2apg, 0.75spg, 0.75bpg, 2.8tpg, 3.3fpg, 46.3% FG, 23.1% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 31.5mpg (4 games)
Even though he fits into Group A, Noah Vonleh had quite a bit of pressure heading into the NBA Summer League. After very minimal improvement over the course of last season, Vonleh had to show some substantial progress and dominate in Las Vegas.
While the final stats won’t blow anyone away, Vonleh actually did show some improvement and was able to dominate for short stretches of specific games. He scored double-digit points in all four games he played and recorded three double-doubles. His shooting percentages weren’t that special but it was great to see him be more assertive as he attempted 10.3 field goal attempts per game after attempting just 3.6 per game last season in the NBA. Lastly, he demonstrated his dominant rebounding ability by ranking seventh overall in rebounds per game. Overall, it was great Summer League for Vonleh and Portland Trail Blazer fans can feel optimistic about the big man’s future again.
Troy Williams, Phoenix Suns
Summer League Stats: 12.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 0.3apg, 1.67spg, 1.5tpg, 2.7fpg, 54.3% FG, 26.3% 3FG, 79.2% FT, 22.2mpg (6 games)
Being a part of Group B means that you have to keep the coach’s attention at all time or you’ll lose it to one of the players who already has a guaranteed a spot on the roster. The fact that Troy Williams was able to keep his coaches invested in him after an unspectacular start to Summer League play is nothing short of incredible.
Williams endured a tough first three games (4.3 points per game) but was able to shine during the Phoenix Suns’ tournament run, averaging 20.3 points per game over his last three games. He was able to shift roles as he went from a role player willing to do anything during the first half of Summer League play to a great slasher and scorer over the second half of Summer League play.
A roster spot on the Phoenix Suns didn’t seem very likely at the beginning of July, but now Williams has a really good shot to make the team and if he doesn’t there should be a few NBA teams that took notice and will give Williams a shot.
Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, Brooklyn Nets
Summer League Stats: 8.8ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.8apg, 0.75spg, 0.25bpg, 2.3tpg, 0.8fpg, 43.8% FG, 18.2% 3FG, 71.4% FT, 17.0mpg (4 games)
If Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell was in Group A, this would have been considered a passable Summer League performance, but the problem is that he belongs to Group B.
Don’t get me wrong, Ferrell was good during his time on the floor but he needed to be great. He did surprising well on two-point shots but was abysmal on three-point shots (what he’ll need to rely on if he plays in the NBA). Also his assist numbers were much too low, even when you take into account the number of minutes he played and how many of those minutes he was actually the main ball handler.
There is still a good chance he could end up on an NBA D-League team this season, but the idea of Ferrell being on an NBA roster next season seems to be miniscule.
Verdell Jones, NBA D-League Select Team
Summer League Stats: 5.2ppg, 0.8rpg, 1.0apg, 0.75spg, 1.5tpg, 1.0fpg, 53.8% FG, 50.0% 3FG, 85.7% FT, 11.2mpg (4 games)
With all the excitement surrounding Williams and Ferrell in their quest to make an NBA roster, another former Hoosier was almost completely overshadowed.
As a member of the NBA D-League Select Team, Verdell Jones had a great start to Summer League after a 12-point, three-rebound, three-assist performance in just 19 minutes. Unfortunately that would be the highest point of his experience as he proceeded to only play a total of 27 minutes over his other three appearances and totaled a combined nine points. While it was nice to see him get this opportunity, don’t expect to hear anything regarding him playing for an NBA team.