Lance Stephenson (6) selected 40th by the Indiana Pacers is looking like quite a steal
judging by his strong play in this year’s Orlando Summer League. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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All the talk coming into the Orlando Summer League was about Evan Turner and Derrick Favors, the overall second and third selections in the NBA draft, respectively.
However, a trio of unheralded late picks in the 2010 NBA draft have pushed all that hype aside and convincingly stole the show this early summer down in Orlando.
Lance Stephenson, the 6’5″ lead guard out of the University of Cincinnati, has been a huge surprise for the Pacers with his abilty to get anywhere he wants to go on the court. His ability to run the team with confidence and a noticeable swagger has been quite impressive through three games down in Orlando.
Coming into Thursday afternoon’s action Stephenson was sixth in scoring at 18.3 points per game piling up 1.3 steals on the defensive end. Although his assists numbers don’t jump off the page (2.0) at you, he has set and controlled the pace for the summer Pacers creating easy opportunities in transition and for spot up jumpers for his teammates. Stephenson is a playmaker and for a team that had issues last year at the point, Larry Bird and company may have just found themselves that quasi – lead guard who has great size, strength along with unquestionable ball handling abilities necessary to man that all important position. Nice pick Larry Legend.
Luke Harangody is definitely turning heads all over the country with his strong play in Orlando. Coming into the 2010 NBA draft Harangody (52nd pick overall) looked to be one of those typical college do – gooders that would not be able to match up talent – wise and athletically with the myriad of NBA talent assimilated at the summer league. But that has not been the case at all through three summer league games.
Harangody is vying for MVP honors (16.3 points per game) down in Orlando due to his ability to dominate the boards and showcase a highly efficient shooting touch from the perimeter. If you are a Celtics’ fan and you were wondering if the big guy from Notre Dame would be able to consistently knock down the NBA three, then you can walk away happy and confident in this aspect of his game. Big Luke is shooting 50% from three on 5 of 10 from the NBA line through the first three games of the Summer League. Now that you know Harangody can shoot (which he definitely has shown he can), the big redhead has also continued to do his dirty work on the glass, coming in at fifth in the league averaging 6.3 rips a game.
Boston’s two picks were questioned after the draft, but after Harangody’s strong play and the addition of defensive minded, athletic guard Avery Bradley, the Celtics are sure to be right back in the hunt for a championship next summer, and may have found some valuable pieces to build their future around.
Damion James, the 24th pick in the draft traded to the Nets via Atlanta, may be the most impressive rookie of the bunch however. The 6’7″ small forward out of Texas University was known for his rebounding prowess in college, but in the summer leagues the aforementioned James is proving that he can be quite a scorer if given the opportunity. Through three games James is second only to teammate and second year player Terrence Williams in the Orlando Summer League in scoring averaging 20.7 points per game. He has also shown a solid knack for getting to the free throw line consistently attempting an average of 9.3 per game.
James’ ability to seemlessly transition to the NBA small forward position from playing predominantly the power forward slot in college has been impressive to this point. His quickness, length and athleticism have enabled him to step right in and play alongside summer league veteran Terrence Williams, a combination that has torched the Orlando Summer League to the tune of 43.7 points per game.
No stranger to rebounding the ball, James is also grabbing an averaging of 6.3 boards per game (2.0 off. rebounds per game). The young Nets forward is a tireless worker and it is his motor that allows him to cause havoc on both ends of the court. Huge pickup for the Nets. Although Favors (8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game), the third overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, appears to be a work in progress at this point; the Nets have to be impressed with the less heralded Damion James through three summer league games.
Summer League scores and schedules
A look back at the 2009 NBA draft shows talent can be found late…
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