As the free agency period is getting sorted out, today marks in my mind the “official” start of the 2009/2010 NBA Season. The 2009 Orlando Pro Summer League starts today at 3:00 pm (eastern time). The summer league means a lot of different things for a lot of different fans and players.
First of all it gives the fans of teams with an anticipated draft choice a chance to see their “guy” in action for the first time. Then there are those “young veterans.” The players who have already played a year or two in the league but are in the summer league for additional experience. It gives fans of those players the chance to see if the hardwork they’ve put in during the offseason has paid off. How about the players who went undrafted and are now fighting for an opportunity to possibly make a team, or at least get invited to a training camp. Those players are using the summer league as a proving ground and an opportunity.
In this years Orlando Summer league there is six teams: Four (well technically five) from the East and two from the West. From the East you have the Nets/76ers who combined their teams this summer, the Pacers, Magic and Celtics. The teams from the West are the Thunder and Jazz.
Let’s now let Sir Charles give you a team by team look into this years summer league (click on team names for full summer league rosters):
A lot will be made of the Pacers summer league team simply for the presence of Tyler Hansbrough. You would have to think the fans in the basketball obsessed state of Indiana are eagerly anticipating getting a chance to see Hansbrough in action for the first time. It also gives all those who were skeptical of the pick an opportunity to see if Hansbrough’s game of “energy” and passion will translate to the NBA.
The Pacers also have a few of their players from last year’s roster on the team. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Second year player Brandon Rush will surely be leading this team through the summer in scoring. Joining Rush will be teammates Roy Hibbert and Josh McRoberts. The addition of these two players along with Hansbrough gives the Pacers a pretty formidable frontline, at least for the summer league and for the Sweet 16. Time will tell if it works in the NBA.
Rounding out the Pacers roster is NBA hopeful and point guard A.J. Price. Price is hoping he can stick on the Pacers roster though it doesn’t look good. The Pacers already have an initial named point guard on their roster (T.J. Ford) along with three other point guards (Travis Diener, Jarret Jack and Jamaal Tinsley). Price though can use the summer league to impress other teams in his services.
Or as I like to call this team, the Turnpike Terror. In an attempt to save some money this summer the Nets and Sixers combined their summer squads. Will the combination of their teams lead to summer league dominance? We will soon find out.
Heading up the NJ/Phila team is a pair of backcourt rookies Jrue Holliday and Terrance Williams. Sixer fans have to be excited to get a chance to see Holliday and his talents for the first time, while I know Nets fans, still bitter from the departure of VC, could use a little reassurance that TWill is going to be able to get it done from the start of the season.
The, ahem…veterans of this team are none other than Chris Douglas-Roberts and Marreese Speights. Both players had promising rookie campaigns and fans of these teams would like nothing more than to see these two players have a huge summer. These two are two of my favorites for MVP of the Summer League.
Also if you’re a team in need of shooting, the Nets/Sixers should be games to watch. The pair of rookie free agents A.J. Abrams and Dionte Christmas, both known for their long range abilities, made a combined 708 three pointers in college.
Well the Celtics summer team is one of the more intriguing rosters. It is chock full of “failed potential” and/or future projects. Going down the line you have 7-1 center Robert Swift. A classic example of the HS player who should have gone to college. He showed all slow, stiff, white centers what not to do. Though he’s young and he is 7-1 so teams will always be willing to take a chance on him.
Next you have Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens. These two guys are similiar in that they both were being drooled heading into college, however injury and just general stupidity turned their careers the wrong way. They both possess pretty supreme gifts and hopefully one if not both of these guys will figure it out and make a career for themselves in the NBA.
Besides these two are former college stars Michael Sweetney and Darius Washington. Washington can best be remembered for this moment in which he missed two of three free throws and a chance to send his team to the NCAA tournament. Sweetney can best be remembered for being overweight/out of shape.
After coming four games away from winning the NBA Championship the Magic are a team that doesn’t need much. This summer league though is a chance for Orlando fans to see the “other guy” in the Vince Carter trade, Ryan Anderson.
Living in NJ I got to see Anderson play quite a bit last year. I have to say, I think Orlando fans will be quite happy with what he’ll bring to the table. On first sight, he doesn’t look like much of a player, but after watching him play it’s quite obvious he gets it.
Anderson can shoot and rebound. He competes on defense. He’ll hustle. I also think he has a general feel for where the ball is going to be and this skill allows him to be a pretty effective offensive rebounder. Orlando you got a steal in my opinion.
Utah like Orlando is another team who’s roster is pretty set, though they do have a pretty anticipated draft pick to get their first view of. That pick is rookie point guard Eric Maynor. I have to say I love Maynor’s game and I think he’s going to be a guy who could average 18 points and 9 assists in this summer league.
The Jazz also are going to get their first look at second round choice Goran Suton. Suton seems like a guy who is destined for Europe, though crazier things have happened. He’s 6-10 and he showed in the NCAA tournament that he can shoot. Sweet shooting big men can always find a home on an NBA roster and he needs to look no further than his own teammate, Mehmet Okur, to find that out.
As I anticipate this season the Thunder to be one of the more fun teams to watch in the NBA, the same can be said for their summer league team.
The Thunder are going to have a pretty dynamic backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Shaun Livingston. Westbrook as you already know had an impressive rookie campaign and will dominate this summer. He is my pick for the MVP. Livingston is still trying to work his way back from his gruesome knee injury (don’t watch if you’re queasy).
I’m not sure how much these two will play together this summer though they both are pretty special players with unique skills.
Joining them in the backcourt is the number three pick in this year’s draft James Harden. Many people thought the Thunder may have fumbled this pick a bit, but this is a perfect place for Harden to prove the doubters wrong. The game is not going to get much easier for Harden playing with Westbrook and Livingston. He is sure to get a lot of shots off their creativity.
So there you have it, the 2009 Orlando Pro Summer League. You can find the homepage here. At the top of the page is a link to watch all the games live.
(Justin DeFeo is a co-lead blogger for Sir Charles in Charge. If you like what you’ve read you can find further insight by following him on Twitter.)