By Mike Held
If youíre like me, youíre totally spending your summer watching basketball, I mean, team USA in the Olympics, right? WRONG. Iím talking NBA Summer league, a showcase of the younger players in the league. And as Syracuse fans, we have special interest in the Summer League this year. As you likely know, three players from last yearsí Orange squad were drafted into the pros: Dion Waiters (4th overall to Cleveland), Fab Melo (22nd to Boston) and Kris Joseph (51st also to the Celtics). The Summer league is providing these players a chance to prove their worth to their pro clubs.
The Celtics summer league schedule is completed, and with Orangemen on the roster, will be the bulk of our focus. In their game against Indiana on Wednesday afternoon, KJo had a solid game. Starting for the Cís, Joseph logged a solid stat line, with 12 points, 7 assists, 2 boards and 3 steals (and this sweet steal and dunk). He played over 28 minutes, and was one of the key contributors in the Celtics win. In his summer league debut against Oklahoma City, KJo had 7 points on about 40 percent shooting, with a few boards and
steals to go along with it.
KJoís solid performance can only help his case. His jumper wasnít quite ready for the NBA range (only 1-10 from deep), but his ball handling, strength and athleticism more than made up for it. Joseph proved to the Celtics that he can hang with NBA level talent. Considering the Celtics strong draft, as well as a need for veteran leadership following the loss of Ray Allen, Joseph will need to continue to work hard to improve his game further in order to make the final roster.
And now, we move onto the interesting case of Fab Melo. The man who regained, broke, regained and ripped our hearts out and curb stomped them all in the same season was also taken by the Celtics. When he came to Syracuse, he was a project. Boeheim turned him into a first round pick. And now, heís a project for Boston. Melo hasnít played nearly as much as Joseph, and has been less exciting in his limited playing time.
Fab finished up with twos across the board against Oklahoma City: two points, rebounds and blocks. Melo showed some solid potential on the offensive (!) end, especially on a few assists (!!). The potential is there for the Big Brazillian. Yet, by the Celtís final summer league game Friday against Orlando, Melo picked up 10 rebounds, which was the game high.
If thereís one surprise about Meloís summer league play, itís his shooting. Melo knocked down a few jumpers. He showed his potential as a defender during the summer league, using his size to his advantage. If veteran Kevin Garnett can give him some help, thereís a whole lot there for Melo.
And for those interested, the Celtics ended summer league play with a record of 4-1.
As for Dion, the Cavs will start up summer league later this week. He is on the roster, and should see some considerable playing time. Also cool about Clevelandís time in Vegas: Theyíre working out Jonny Flynn, which is pretty cool.
If youíre interested in watching some summer league ball (and who wouldnít be?) itís all on NBA TV and most of it is online as well.