To most of you peeps....the basketball season is over. The NBA Finals just ended and the draft concluded...so you just sit and wait for the training camps to open up in the NBA in October and those Midnight Madness events in NCAA hoops.
Oh, but there is plenty of hoops going on. The Summer Leagues.
The Summer leagues aren't anything but for the big hoops heads. These are games that see sparse crowds and more scouts than anything. There is no PA announcer gushing over your play nor is there a dude with a microphone giving you nicknames. These games are played in Long Beach, Orlando, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Of course, many guys playing on these rosters were in Athens, Spain or Telaviv last year. Some might have been in America...but in Asheville or Austin. Nearly all of them are fighting for a small NBA check.
The summer leagues have gained so much importance in recent year. With the addition of high schoolers and foreign players in the draft....the summer leagues are a good way to break these guys into NBA play [and coaching]. Also, with the new design of the NBDL [aka the "D-league"], guys who impress during the summer leagues could make their way onto D-league teams which is just a step from NBA action.
Sure, the summer leagues feature most first round draft picks and man 2nd rounders.....and the summer leagues may see a lot of 2nd and 3rd year NBA players and some guys like Amare Stoudamire coming off injuries....but it is those guys fighting to get back into the NBA that are the ones who are the most interesting. These guys need these summer leagues to show that they can stick in the Association. They have nothing guaranteed. Here are a few of the guys of note.
Walter Herrman, Bobcats: I featured this cat on this very blog when I first started it. He was the Argentine player who had his fiancee, his mom and his sister all die in a car crash back in 2003. Exactly one year later...he had his greatest game. A 38-point, 11 rebound effort in the South America championship game. He came home to find out that his father died of a heartattack. He was on the Argentina team that won the gold medal in the Olympics in 2004...which is when I first learned of him. Great player, horrible story.
Casey Jacobson, Nuggets: The former Stanford standout is one guy that can parlay a great summer league into a possibly NBA roster slot. The Nuggs need shooters and that is what Jacobson is. He's bounced around the league and spent last year in Spain.
Paul Shirley, Timberwolves: Shirley is best known for his blog on ESPN.com. He put the pen down [well, the keyboard] to give basketball another try.
Omar Cook, Hornets: The posterboy for legendary high schooler that didn't make it. This NYC legend has done next to nothing in his NBA tries. He has made the rounds in the D-league.
Joe Forte, Heat: Former Tar Heel All American whose attitude made him, well, unwanted at Carolina and unwanted in the NBA.
Marcus Fizer, Hornets: Former lottery pick from Iowa State, Fizer played very well in the D-league last year. Enough so that New Orleans brought him up for a spell.
Darius Washington, Rockets: Probably the 2006 posterboy for declaring too early. Still, the Memphis guard is best known for missing FTs in the 2005 Conference USA championship game.
Taylor Coppenrath, Pacers: He was that big dude who led Vermont to that upset of Syracuse in the 2005 NCAA tournament.
Marco Killingsworth, Magic: He was a beast earlier in the NCAA season at Indiana. His lack of size and range knocked him out of the draft.
Brett Blizzard, Bobcats: This UNC-Wilmington player was that dude that lit up offenses back in the day with his rabid three-pt shooting.
Will Bynum, Warriors: Bynum may be the reason that the Warriors were willing to deal away Derek Fisher. Bynum was awesome in the D-league last year where he led the league in scoring.
Will Solomon, Wizards: The former Clemson star has become a Euro star. He's cut out a nice career in the Turkish, Greek and Israeli leagues.
Kevin Pittsnogle, Heat: Well, he'll get a look.
Gerry McNamara, Magic: He'll get one too....which is rich since he's on the same summer league team as fellow NCAA gunner JJ Redick.
Vonteego Cummings, Nets: Dude is 30 years old and still trying to get another NBA job.
Darvin Ham, Magic: Speaking of old, Ham [he's 33] does have 8 years of NBA experience...including time with the Pistons. Best known for breaking a backboard in the NCAA tournament [against my beloved Heels].
Ansu Sesay, Timberwolves: Dude's been a pro for nearly a decade with some time with the Sonics several years ago.
Justin Williams, Kings: My personal favorite summer league player who I hope sees an NBA court at some time. A defensive presence...I fell in love with him watching the Mountain West tournament last year in which the Wyoming center blocked pretty much everything around him.
Rodney Billups and Wayne Wallace, Pistons: These two guys are know more for their relatives than anything. Rodney's big brother is Chauncey Billups...currently the starting PG for those Pistons. Wayne Wallace is Ben Wallace's nephew...who just shunned the Pistons for the rival Bulls earlier this week. Awkward!
John Lucas III, Rockets: He's the son of former Rockets coach John Lucas.
Chris Owens, Suns: The great-nephew of Jesse Owens.
Former Tar Heels looking for a possibly NBA payday: Jawad Williams, Clippers....Jackie Manuel, Bulls....Joe Forte, Heat....Byron Sanders, Lakers