Summer league in Vegas is great. You get a first look at the new rookies. You get to see a bunch of guys that you forgot about because they didn’t quite make it their first time around. And you get to see Markieff Morris on the craps table every night at the Cosmo (or was that Marcus?). Now that the good time is over and the numbers are in, we get to analyze those, too. But proceed with caution, because a five game sample is …well, it’s five games, so don’t assume Josh Akognon should start on your NBA team because he averaged over 50 points per 48 minutes. Trust me, I went to school with the guy. He wasn’t that great. Let’s just put it this way, Adam Morrison for the Clippers was good, Adam Morrison for the Nets was bad, Kenneth Faried was below average, and Austin Daye was great. Anyway, let’s take a look, shall we?
This year, the NBA awarded co-MVPs to second year guard Josh Selby of Memphis and rookie guard Damian Lillard from Portland. Surprisingly, they actually got it right (at least partly). Selby was the most productive player at summer league per minute and overall, averaging 42 points per 48 minutes with a 78% true shooting percentage. If you don’t understand advanced stat speak, that means he was an unfathomably efficient volume scorer, which is pretty extraordinary for a guy whose true shooting percentage was 40% during his rookie season, including 13% from long range. Selby’s Simple Production Score* (an estimation of Points over Par) was 13.8, which means if you played him for an entire game with four average guys against a team with all average guys, you’d win by 13 or 14 points.
For evaluations I use Simple Production Score, which is an estimate of how much of an edge in points a player gives you over 48 minutes. Full explanation at the end of the post.
(Editor’s Note: Player breakdowns and Stats for all players after the jump)
TOP TEN PICKS
Picks 1 & 2: Anthony Davis & Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: DNP.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the top two picks of the draft. Boo!
Pick 3: Bradley Beal
- Team: Washington Wizards
- Simple Production Score +1.6
Beal was one of our guys. Arturo had him as the third best overall player in the draft, and we were all for taking him as high as two. While he didn’t exactly shine during summer league, Beal played at an above average rate. He didn’t shoot well (eFG%: .463), but he was all over the offensive glass, blocked shots well, stole the ball more than an average SG, and limited his fouls. He did, however, turn the ball over at a relatively high rate.
Pick 4: Dion Waiters
- Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
- Simple Production Score: -6.1
Waiters, to us at the Wages of Wins, was an average prospect. We didn’t have him particularly high (he probably would have made my overrated list if I knew he’d go #4 overall), but we didn’t think he was bad either. His summer league performance was awful. His effective field goal percentage was 31% (!!!), and he didn’t make up for it elsewhere.
Pick 5: Thomas Robinson
- Team: Sacramento Kings
- Simple Production Score: -7.3
I would have drafted Robinson. Not top 3, but probably in the lottery. Arturo had him as the #14 overall prospect, I had him at #17. You wouldn’t know from his dismal performance at summer league. I thought Jimmer Fredette was bad; Robinson was the tenth least productive player at summer league. His rebounding was great: he averaged 15.9 per 48. But his terrible shooting (22-64, eFG%: .344) and sky high turnovers (7.8! per 48) and fouls (7.5! per 48) cancelled out the good and then some. And by some I mean a lot.
Pick 6: Damian Lillard
- Team: Portland Trail Blazers
- Simple Production Score: +2.4
Arturo and I were both high on Lillard. I pointed out some cause for concern in his ridiculously high college shooting percentage (hard to maintain for a guy his size in the NBA) and his very low assist numbers for a point guard, but still the guy has the makings of a good NBA player. He was co-MVP of summer league. And while the numbers don’t quite agree with the MVP assertion, he was pretty good. He shot very well (TS%: .574), rebounded well, and actually improved his assist numbers, though they were still lower than you’d hope for from your starting point guard. The big issue for Lillard at summer league was turnovers (5.5 per 48).
Pick 7: Harrison Barnes
- Team: Golden State Warriors
- Simple Production Score: +0.4
Ah, Harrison Barnes. My #1 most overrated player. Of course, if I knew at the time Rivers would go top ten, I’d probably have put Barnes at #2. Still, a terrible college prospect. Well, he was slightly above average in his couple of summer league games. His shooting remained poor (eFG%: .447), but he actually rebounded and stole the ball very well, and limited his turnovers.
Pick 8: Terrence Ross
- Team: Toronto Raptors
- Simple Production Score: -4.7
Ross was another guy we pegged as an average rookie. He’s got skills, but needs to work on some areas of his game. You could tell in summer league. It’s funny because I caught one of Toronto’s games, and was surprised by how good Ross looked. I suppose either I was fooled by the eye test or saw his only good game. Ross shot incredibly poorly (eFG%: .414), fouled a lot (6.4 per 48), and turned the ball over a lot (3.9 per 48).
Pick 9: Andre Drummond
- Team: Detroit Pistons
- Simple Production Score: +1.7
Another one of the stars of my overrated list, we’ll call him the Big Question Mark (see that, I just coined a nickname. Now use it!). Arturo’s model despised him, but I’m of the opinion that he has a decent chance to be a decent player. He was above average in his 121 summer league minutes, shooting 50% and dominating on defense (4 blocks and 2.4 steals per 48). Unfortunately his free throw percentage carried on over from his college days and remained at 25%. Yes, you read that right. In addition, Drummond limited his turnovers, but not his fouls.
Pick 10: Austin Rivers
- Team: New Orleans Hornets
- Simple Production Score: -6.9
Austin Rivers, in my humble opinion, was the worst pick of the draft; I’ll remind you that he was below average in every meaningful statistical category in college. Nothing changed in summer league: he was the 11th least productive per minute player. His effective field goal percentage was …..wait for it ….24%. He also failed to get one offensive rebound in 64 minutes on the court. He turned the ball over a lot (4.5 per 48) and fouled even more (8.3 per 48). The only things keeping him from the bottom were his very high steal rate (3.0 per 48) and relatively high assist rate (5.3 per 48).
OVERRATED DRAFT PROSPECTS OUTSIDE THE TOP TEN
- Team: Chicago Bulls
- Simple Production Score: -12.5
It’s funny, the Bulls were projected by most mock drafts to select exactly who I thought they should take (Will Barton). Instead, they took the worst player in the draft in my estimation. The Bulls’ offseason has been among the worst in recent memory. They let two productive wings (Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver) go to sign an unproductive wing (Marco Belinelli). They let go of a productive backup center (Omer Asik). And they drafted Teague, who was the second least productive player per minute and the least productive player overall at summer league. He was bad across the board, but of particular concern is his shooting (eFG%: .294) and his turnovers (6.7 per 48).
Perry Jones III
- Team: Oklahoma City Zombie Sonics
- Simple Production Score: +0.3
PJ3 runs like a deer. An average deer. He was average at summer league. His fast, aesthetically pleasing hopping didn’t help him shoot well (eFG%: .457), but he was great on the glass, especially offensively (4.6 ORB per 48), he blocked shots well (2.8 per 48), and he limited his turnovers. He did foul quite a bit, and didn’t get a single steal in 52 minutes, which is a bit concerning.
- Team: Memphis Grizzlies
- Simple Production Score: -2.2
Wroten was good in college with respect to athletic categories, but struggled mightily with shooting and taking care of the basketball. Not too much has changed. In summer league Wroten was great on the offensive glass, and got a lot of steals and blocks. But his effective field goal percentage was 42% and he turned the ball over 5.6 times per 48 minutes.
- Team: Brooklyn Nets
- Simple Production Score: -3.1
At summer league, Taylor frankly failed to run the point effectively. He averaged 4 assists to 6.5 turnovers per 48 minutes.
- Team: Denver Nuggets
- Simple Production Score: -3.4
Quincy Miller rebounded well (12 per 48), but shot extremely poorly (eFG%: .350), and struggled with fouls and turnovers.
Jeremy Lamb & Terrence Jones
- Team: Houston Rockets
- Simple Production Score: +2.0 (Lamb), +5.9 (Jones)
These are the two guys that just barely made my overrated prospects list for lack of more overrated prospects. I projected both to be average NBA players, which of course, doesn’t warrant being a top ten or twelve pick. Jones, of course, fell to 18, and had I known he’d fall that far, I’d probably have bumped him off the list. Still, Houston liked both guys, and in five summer league games, both were well above average. Jones was particularly good: he was a rebounding machine (16.4 per 48 – it’s funny, lack of rebounding was one of the few nitpicks I had about his game), and he shot the ball well and limited his turnovers. Lamb was good too: he shot and rebounded well, but struggled a bit with turnovers.
PLAYERS FEATURED IN MY UNDERRATED DRAFT PROSPECT SERIES
- Team: Dallas Mavericks
- Simple Production Score: +2.3
I’m confident that the Mavs were heavily influenced by work we did on this site when they took Crowder. He’s my favorite of the draft prospects that I deemed underrated enough to write about, and I’m rooting hard for him. He wasn’t fantastic at summer league, but he certainly helped his team. While he was generally average, he rebounded at an above average rate, and stole the ball exceptionally well (3 steals per 48). Also, Crowder quieted some concerns with his long range shooting a bit by shooting relatively well from 3 (37%) in quite a few attempts (27).
- Team: Portland Trail Blazers
- Simple Production Score: +1.2
I was legitimately surprised how far Barton fell in the draft, as I was sure he’d be a first round pick. But he fell to the Blazers, who in my opinion had the best overall draft. Like Crowder, Barton was generally average across the board in summer league, but he was a very good rebounder, and took good care of the basketball.
- Team: San Antonio Spurs
- Simple Production Score: +0.1
Without reiterating how meaningless summer league numbers are, at least I can say my underrated guys all produced at a positive rate. Denmon shot very poorly (eFG%: .407), but rebounded well and rarely turned the ball over.
Did I miss anyone? No? Ok, I’m done. Just kidding. Here’s the complete list of everyone who played at least 50 minutes at summer league:
Sorted by per-minute production:
And sorted by team:
*Simple Production Score is an estimation of Points over Par via Simple Production. Simple Production is an estimation of Wins Produced. It is not as accurate as Wins Produced, but does not require a position adjustment or team data. It is best used as a snapshot of a player’s production when position adjustments are needlessly time consuming or ambiguous. The formula for Simple Production is 2FGM*0.032 + 3FGM*0.064 – FGMS*0.032 + FTM*0.017 – FTMS*0.013 + ORB*0.017 + DRB*0.0085 + AST*0.015 + BLK*0.02 + STL*0.033 – TOV*0.034 – PF*0.0136. To convert Simple Production into Simple Production Score, use the following formula: ((Simple Production / MP * 48) – 0.099) * 31.1
Editor Arturo’s note: Just for the heck of it. A picture is worth a thousand words.