Former Blue Devils light up NBA Summer League, look ahead to upcoming season

NBA Summer League play has concluded after two action-packed weeks in Orlando and Las Vegas, and here is a look at how the nine former Blue Devils in action performed.

Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks: The second overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft had a decent summer by his standards, but struggled with efficiency. Parker averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game, but shot just 41.2 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from 3-point range. The Chicago native also averaged five turnovers per game.

Parker had 17 points and nine rebounds against Cleveland in his first game, a hyped matchup against Cleveland and top overall pick Andrew Wiggins. But the forward’s best performance of his summer in Las Vegas came July 18 against Golden State, when he had 20 points and 15 rebounds and provided a number of highlights.

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Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz: Hood played like a man with a chip on his shoulder after slipping late into the first round in the draft, averaging 13.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 27.0 minutes per contest. The lefty shot 42.1 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from long range and 90.0 percent from the free throw line, showing he could still produce efficiently from the perimeter against NBA talent.

Hood also played an erratic five games in Las Vegas, where the swing man put in 29 and 19-point performances in between three ugly shooting performances that saw the marksman convert just six of 30 shots. Hood's minutes aren't secure in the way Parkers' are, but he should still find a niche off the bench. Alec Burks, Ian Clark and Steve Novak appear to be Hood's main competition for minutes.

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Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets: In the Orlando summer league, Plumlee dominated in the three games he played, averaging 18.0 points on 75 percent shooting and 4.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game. The second-year big man showed why he was named to the All-Rookie First Team last year in his first game this summer, putting up 23 points with a dazzling array of moves against the Pacers.

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Plumlee will look to continue improving as a member of the USA Select Team that will train with Team USA before the upcoming FIBA World Cup, and should see an expanded role this year with Kevin Garnett reaching the end of his career.

Miles Plumlee, Phoenix Suns: Another member of the USA Select Team, Mason’s brother Miles had a decent summer playing in Las Vegas for the Suns, although it was not quite as good as the one he had last summer playing for the Pacers. Plumlee averaged 8.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per game in four appearances. The disappointing part of Plumlee’s summer was that he only shot 35.1 percent from the field.

The 7-foot center’s best game of the summer was a 5-point, 11-rebound performance July 15 against Philadelphia. He also made one of the best plays of the summer with a spectacular two-handed block on a Parker dunk attempt when his team played the Bucks.

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Seth Curry, Orlando Magic/Phoenix Suns: Curry was one of two former Duke players to see action in both Orlando and Las Vegas for two different teams this summer. The sharpshooter averaged 9.8 points per game in four games for the Magic in Orlando, and averaged 10.2 points per game in five games for the Suns playing alongside former teammate Miles Plumlee in Phoenix.

Curry also had two breakout games this summer, scoring 15 points and knocking down four 3-pointers July 10 against Boston for the Magic in Orlando, and going off for 26 points on 7-of-9 shooting—including 5-of-7 from 3-point range and 7-of-7 from the charity stripe—for the Suns against the Bucks in Las Vegas.

Curry and Hood were among the many players that feasted against Milwaukee’s sloppy defense and communication, something that Parker undoubtedly hopes will improve as he continues working with his new teammates.

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It will be interesting to see whether or not Curry returns to the D-League with the end of the month approaching and time running out for the former Blue Devil to help fill out a roster. This isn't to say that Curry won't find his way onto an NBA roster come November, but merely that he isn't likely to land with the two teams he played with this summer, as both are set at the guard position. He has shown what he can do when he heats up, but teams might be too concerned about his consistency and the other parts of his game to sign him.

Andre Dawkins, Miami Heat/Houston Rockets: Aside from the D-League experience, Dawkins is in a very similar situation to Curry’s. Playing for the Heat in Orlando, the streaky shooter averaged 12.3 points in 19.3 minutes per game in four contests. The Chesapeake, Va. native burst onto the summer league scene with a 27-point, seven 3-pointer performance against the Thunder July 11.

Like his former teammate Curry, Dawkins also played for two different teams and in both summer leagues. He averaged 9.9 points per game in seven games off the bench in Las Vegas playing for the Rockets, who advanced to the title game.

Dawkins’ situation for the upcoming season also remains murky after an inconsistent summer. The new-look Heat really have no shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade right now. With Nick Johnson and Troy Daniels backing up James Harden, the Rockets aren't as nice a fit as Miami, though they will be in the market for minimum contracts this season.

Dawkins was just 1-of-7 for five points in Houston's title game loss to Sacramento.

Nolan Smith, Oklahoma City Thunder: Smith was not very impressive with the Thunder in the Orlando Summer League. Given the nod as the starter for the first game, Smith practically played himself out of the Summer League rotation, playing just four minutes and nine minutes in his final two games.

The additions of Anthony Morrow, Sebastian Telfair and Semaj Christon should preclude the Thunder from seriously looking at Smith, but he should be able to leverage his accomplished collegiate career into a training camp invite somewhere. He'll need to play better once in camp to avoid returning overseas or spending the year in the D-League.

Lance Thomas (CHI): Thomas resurfaced in Summer League with the Bulls after being waived by the New Orleans Pelicans last season. An undersized power forward without the perimeter game demanded of today's small forwards, Thomas struggles with being a bit of a 'tweener. He performed relatively well this summer, averaging 7.6 points on efficient 58.3 percent shooting to go with 4.4 rebounds, but he still faces an uphill battle for a roster spot. Chicago likely won't be the answer for Thomas, as the Bulls are flush with big men even after using the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer. There won't be minutes behind Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow.

Olek Czyz (D-League): Olek Czyz, the former Duke forward who transferred to Nevada, always seems to pop up in Summer League, this year playing with the D-League Select Team. Except for this year he didn't play, watching idly for each of his team's games. It'll take a miracle for Czyz to find his way onto a roster for opening day.


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