by Mike Held
NBA summer league has come to a screeching halt, and after 10ish games, there are a few things we can see about Syracuse’s recent players to make the jump to the pros.
First and foremost, we have the number four overall pick in this year’s draft, Dion Waiters. After seeing his stock rise so fast for mysterious reasons, Waiters was somewhat of a disappointment. He averaged about 12 points a game on dismal 30 percent shooting, nothing to write home about. Also noteworthy about Waiters’ time in Vegas was the fact that he showed up to camp a bit on the chunky size, and a bit out of shape. Waiters returned to his (unwanted) Syracuse form at points, jacking up any jumper with a remote chance. When he did drive to the hoop, he was beating guys left and right, moving well off the dribble and getting to the rim. Cleveland is hoping fellow young talent Kyrie Irving will be able to assist Waiters in his transition to the pro game.
Secondly, we move to the surprise of the Summer League, at least as far as the Celtics are concerned. That, my friends, is Kris Joseph. Doc Rivers, Celtics head coach, reffered to KJo as “the biggest surprise” of the summer, a sentence which leads me to believe that he hasn’t seen “Moonrise Kingdom”. But seriously, Joseph has played very, very well this summer season, considering he was fighting for a roster spot at the beginning of it all. He still finds him self in that battle despite the strong summer, but he definitely improved his stock. Joseph, who has a non-guaranteed contract, put up 11 points in the Celt’s final game against Milwaukee. He’s been a starter in many of the team’s games, and has been a solid performer for the team throughout the summer.
The Big Brazillian, Fab Melo, has been somewhat of a project thus far for the Celtics. Nobody was entirely sure how the 7 footer would react to the NBA game, but in Summer league action, Melo has looked pretty decent. His game is much like what we all saw during his tenure at the Carrier Dome, but with a few additional improvements. His passing game has seen vast improvement in just a few short games, as has his off dribble moves. He’s still the defensive presence we all know, swatting balls left and right. If there’s one thing preventing Melo from improving further, it’s his work ethic. It’s something you can’t teach. We all know that Melo would rather spend Thursday’s at Chuck’s in Syracuse than in the library. He can be lazy. The question is if Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers can inspire Melo to work hard to improve his game and become the potential super start that lives inside him.
All the players from this past draft have played themselves into contention for a shot at their dream: becoming an NBA player.