A few weeks without NBA action went by after Miami took home their second consecutive NBA title. But summer basketball is finally back in full effect. For many fans, this time of the year is the most exciting due to the free agency frenzy, blockbuster deals, and seeing their squad’s new blood battle it out on the hardwood in Orlando and Vegas.
The Orlando Summer League comes to a close today and while there are certainly players that didn’t live up to the hype during their first week of action, there have been unexpected hires, break out performances and new league rules that have made this particular summer league session exciting.
As a result, here are the five biggest surprises of the Orlando Summer League.
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5. THE NEW POINT SYSTEM
This week in Orlando, a new summer league point system was used for the first time. Teams were awarded one point for winning a quarter, half a point for tying a quarter and three points for winning a game. This new point system was put in place to make playoff seeding easier as Orlando hosted its first league championship ever between OKC and Houston.
4. RASHEED WALLACE ON THE SIDELINES
I know. I can’t believe it either. How many technical fouls will be called on the Detroit bench this upcoming season? Will there be any more epic stare downs? Only time will tell.
Along with the recent reunion between the Pistons and Chauncey Billups, adding Wallace to the bench is not only a great PR move, but a great basketball move as well. The addition of ‘Sheed should prove to pay off as Wallace brings a wealth of knowledge that should help the development of Detroit’s young guns. While I don’t see ‘Sheed providing advice on how to control your temper, I do think that his experiences in the league will surprisingly help him serve as a fantastic mentor.
3. DREW CANNON
This story has sort of slipped under the radar over the past week, but the Boston Celtics’ hiring of 23-year-old statistical guru Drew Cannon is both remarkable and groundbreaking for the game of basketball.
As recent as one year ago, Cannon was a Duke graduate without a job and strongly considered becoming a bartender at a family bar and grill. Shortly before having to make a decision, Cannon was contacted by then Butler head coach Brad Stevens and offered a job to work with the Butler men’s program for just $1,000 a month after Stevens took a liking to his in-depth basketball analytic reports. While taking graduate classes on the Indianapolis campus, Cannon managed to stay afloat while his unknown statistical formula helped to shape many of the Butler Bulldogs lineup decisions.
After the hiring of Stevens as the 17th head coach of the Boston Celtics, the employment of the 23-year-old basketball genius followed shortly after. While his role may be undefined with the Celtics, having a fresh college grad helping to make major front office and coaching decisions is something that has never been done before.
2. ANDRE DRUMMOND
In three games, Drummond dominated the competition in Orlando, averaging over 15 points and 15 rebounds per contest, while adding in just under three blocks and three steals. While it’s not much of a surprise that Drummond had success in his second summer league stint as he continues to develop — okay, it’s not AT ALL a surprise because the dude is a beast — it was quite impressive with how easily he controlled the glass, and we needed to show him love regardless. Drummond shot a shade under 50 percent from the field but those numbers may be deceiving as many of his shot attempts came on multiple tip-in attempts before finally finishing for two.
The sky is the limit for Drummond when it comes to his potential, as he is still very raw offensively, but the kid is just 19 years old. If Detroit is smart, they’ll hold onto their blue-chipper, giving Rasheed Wallace plenty of time to aid in the development of Drummond’s offensive skill-set.
1. KELLY OLYNYK
Probably the biggest story to come out of Orlando this week has been the dominance of Boston Celtics first-round pick Kelly Olynyk. While his efficiency and fluidity to his game may be surprising to some, this is a guy who shot 63 percent from the field for the No. 1 team in the country (at times) at Gonzaga. Olynyk’s performances have placed him first in scoring in Orlando and fourth in rebounding, putting up summer league MVP-worthy numbers of 19.5 points and eight rebounds per contest. Kendall Gill expressed his affection for the new Celtic big man by saying that Olynyk has already established himself as a “top five” talent from this draft. While I don’t expect him to live up to the Dirk comparisons right away, you better believe that Olynyk will be a key contributor to a rebuilding Boston Celtics squad next season.
Over the past four seasons, Ainge has shown a knack of getting guys in the first round that were expected to be drafted higher: Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and now, Kelly Olynyk.
What were the biggest surprises from this week in Orlando?
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