I still remember watching Kwame Brown in his first Summer League for the Washington Wizards up in Boston. It was free and I was a fiend, looking for some No. 1 overall pick love. I can remember telling my boys after his first game, “Don’t worry. Kwame will pick it up. He’s only a high school kid.” Ahh, too bad.
Summer Leagues get their exposure from No. 1 picks, second-year standouts and once-in-a-blue-moon explosions from unheard of players. Below that though, there are always interesting subplots. Here are the Top 10 guys to look out for in this year’s Orlando Summer League:
10. Rod Benson, Utah
Never read much of his stuff, but it’s always good to have some entertainment around. In a way though, let’s all secretly pray that he misses a bunch of lay-ups or doesn’t see much PT. Last year, he wrote in one of his blog posts that when the Indiana Pacers signed him to a non-guaranteed contract back in September, they made him give up writing. I guess the NBA didn’t exactly know what to do with his candor. Certainly, his penmanship carries more worth than his game.
9. Latavious Williams, Oklahoma City
By now, you might know Latavious Williams was the first D-Leaguer to get drafted into the NBA. What I want to know is how the 21-year old is just one year removed from high school? Oklahoma City has done a good job of developing his game so far. We are interested to see the progress he’s made since finishing his first year in the D-League.
8. Marcus Williams, Indiana
Remember when this guy was being mentioned as a high draft pick? Attitude problems forced him into the second round in 2007 where he was drafted by of all people, the Spurs. Since then, he has been in and out of the San Antonio organization – once cut to make room for DerMarr Johnson and then brought back a second time to replace Malik Hairston. He was a D-League star last year. Let’s see what he’s got.
7. Magnum Rolle, Indiana
I want him to make a roster just so we can get continual jokes and odd looks from announcers forced into repeating his name on television. This is the best name of the summer league, right next to Boston’s Artsiom Parakhouski. Plus, this kid could be this year’s second round sleeper.
6. Patrick Ewing Jr., Orlando
Somehow, he’s already 26 years old. The former Georgetown player is taking the ol’ Little League route: if you can’t make a team, get your dad to coach and reap the benefits. All jokes aside, Ewing Jr. is an NBA athlete that a lot of people had pegged as a sleeper when he declared for the Draft. He doesn’t have many skills, but he is 6-8 and has some potential as a defensive stopper. Orlando could be a good spot for him.
5. Tweety Carter, New Jersey
How about Carter has his own website (tweetycarter.com) and it doesn’t even work. Announcers love his name, but you have to respect his game and the impact he had on Baylor. He made young girls cry when he left college. Let’s see what type of impression he leaves here.
4. Mustafa Shakur, Oklahoma City
Way back in the day, this dude was supposed to be the next big thing, the next great PG to roll through Arizona. It never really happened. You could argue the most memorable part of his career there was the Elite 8 loss to Illinois when the Wildcats blew a 15-point lead with five minutes left. Shakur was putting in work in the D-League last season with over 19 points, almost 7 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
3. Sherron Collins, Charlotte
Collins falls into a situation where the Bobcats don’t really have a point guard; Raymond Felton probably won’t be back and many in their organization don’t see D.J. Augustin as their starter. It will be interesting to see how his game translates to the NBA.
2. Darius Miles, Charlotte
Isn’t this like the 10th time Miles has tried to come back?
1. Ndudi Ebi, Philadelphia
I thought this dude was going to be a problem (in a good way) back when he came out of high school. I guess not. And he recently played for the Basket Rimini Crabs in Italy, not exactly glamorous. Maybe he will end up in the D-League this time, considering they wouldn’t allow him in the last few times he was supposed to go.
What do you think? Who are the players to watch in the Orlando Summer League?