Orlando Pro Summer League Preview Part 3 – Oklahoma City and Utah

Part 3 of my preview of the Orlando Pro Summer League looks at the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Make sure to come back tomorrow for Part 4 and daily reviews of the games during the week.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

 

Player

Position

Age

Height

Weight

College/Country

James Harden

SF/SG

20

6’5

218

Arizona State

Serge Ibaka

PF/C

20

6’10

235

Congo

Eric Maynor

PG

23

6’3

175

VCU

Latavious Williams

SF

21

6’8

205

Tulsa 66ers

DJ White

PF

23

6’9

251

Indiana

Kyle Weaver

SG

24

6’5

201

Washington St.

Ryan Reid

PF

23

6’9

235

Florida State

Byron Mullens

C

21

7’0

275

Ohio State

Robert Vaden

SG

25

6’5

205

UAB

Mustafa Shakur

PG

25

6’3

190

Arizona

Cliff Hammonds

PG/SG

24

6’3

210

Clemson

Marcus Lewis

PF

23

6’8

245

Oral Roberts

 

The Rookies  Obviously, the one rookie that everyone wants to see is not here.  Cole Aldrich will not be playing for the Thunder in the Summer League due to NBA regulations which state that the trade in which OKC acquired Aldrich cannot be official until July 8.  Without Aldrich, there isn’t much to look at here.  Ryan Reid, the surprise 2nd round pick, will be here and it will be the first time that most people have seen him play.  Since Latavious Williams was just drafted, I will include him here, though he already spent a season with the OKC-affiliated Tulsa 66ers of the NBDL.  Williams is still extremely raw and would rather try to force himself to the basket rather than exploiting what the defense gives him.  Look for him to work on his ballhandling and shooting touch while in Orlando.  I do think a lot of people will be impressed with his athleticism, especially on the boards.

 

The Vets    This Thunder team is stacked for a Summer League group, with at least 8 players who have spent time in the NBA, half of those who have played significant minutes in the League.  Led by James Harden and Serge Ibaka, two part-time starters and both entrenched in Coach Scott Brooks’ rotation, look for both to continue to work on the weaker parts of their game – Harden on defense and Ibaka on offense.  Harden knows how to score, but often seemed a step behind his man on defense last season.  His priority will be to improve his positioning and his lateral movement.  Ibaka is a force on the boards and as a shot blocker, but has very little in a traditional post game.   With some solid point guards on the team, look for Ibaka to show off some new moves in the post, as well as improving his touch around the basket.  Two point guards join the group in Orlando – Eric Maynor and Mustafa Shakur.  Maynor will likely start the season as Russell Westbrook’s back-up, though Shakur can continue to make a case based on his explosiveness.  Both will be charged with running the OKC offense while in Orlando.  The player that should bring the most interest in Byron Mullens, the seven-footer who showed some significant improvement last year.  He still needs to improve his foot speed and reaction time, though he will have plenty of time behind Aldrich and Ibaka down on the blocks.  Rounding out the group – Robert Vaden and Kyle Weaver, both solid shooting guards who know how to score, and DJ White, a big body who is good for a few boards and a few fouls underneath.

 

The Wild Cards – None to speak of, this as veteran a group as you will see in the Summer Leagues this season, and the familiarity with each other and the offense should have them rolling in Orlando.

 

 

 

Utah Jazz

 

 

Player

Position

Age

Height

Weight

College/Country

Gordon Hayward

SF

20

6’9

211

Butler

Kosta Koufos

C

21

7’0

265

Ohio State

Sundiata Gaines

PG

23

6’1

195

Georgia

Othyus Jeffers

SG

24

6’5

210

Robert Morris

Jeremy Evans

SF

22

6’9

196

W. Kentucky

Tadija Dragicevic

PF

24

6’9

235

Serbia

James Augustine

PF

26

6’10

235

Illinois

Jermareo Davidson

PF

25

6’10

230

Alabama

Thomas Gardner

SG

25

6’5

225

Missouri

Demetris Nichols

SF

25

6’8

216

Syracuse

Bernard Robinson

SG

29

6’6

210

Michigan

Rod Benson

PF/C

25

6’10

235

California

Paul Harris

SG

23

6’4

230

Syracuse

The Rookies  Two recent picks will be playing for the Jazz in Orlando – Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans.  This will be Hayward’s time to shine, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts on the best performance of any of the recent draftees during the week.  Hayward is a natural playmaker and expect a lot of the Jazz offense to run through him.  I expect him to spend a lot of time on the perimeter working on his range.  Evans will be interesting to watch.  He is athletic and has a great first step, but he will need to add some muscle to compete night in and night out at the NBA level.  One more first year player of interest – Tadija Dragicevic – will be with the Jazz in Orlando.  The Serbian big man was a 2008 2nd round pick for the Jazz.  He has great control around the rim and is effective using his body.  He still needs to work on using his body as well on the defensive end.  If Dragicevic is ready to play in the NBA, look for him to work on the defensive end during the week.

 

The Vets  Sundiata Gaines will be looking to build on the momentum from last season, which included a buzzer-beating shot to win his first game in a Jazz uniform.  Gaines is a nice compliment to Deron Williams at the point, and look for him to spend his time running the team in Orlando, and showing that he is capable of more important minutes next season.  Kosta Koufos has shown some improvement since his time at Ohio State, but he still is very raw and needs more court time in order to improve.  He has shown some good moves with his back to the basket, but he really needs to improve his touch around the rim.  James Augustine and Jermareo Davidson are both big bodies who have spent some time in the NBA.  With Carlos Boozer most likely not coming back to Utah, these two may be in play to back up Paul Milsap at the Power Forward position.  

 

The Wild Cards Two former Syracuse players, Demetris Nichols and Paul Harris, will be suiting up for the Jazz during the week.  Both are very athletic and know how to play around the rim.  Harris is a phenomenal rebounder for 6’4, but is still very unpolished on the offensive end.  Nichols has improved a lot, especially from the perimeter, since the last time he was in the NBA.  Both can be in play for a roster spot if they show off these talents in Orlando.