Last month, followers and experts alike were well versed in items like the strengths and weaknesses of many a draft prospect, yet remained hungry to see Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Buddy Hield and others display their talents against one another in real competition.
If you've had an opportunity to catch any live action in Las Vegas, I'd first like to offer my condolences for the oft painful displays of basketball, but at least you have a strong understanding of the environment. Players with so many individual agendas at stake, that have had just several practices together, are bound to look infinitely worse in this type of setting.
I must remind you that a few games in any sport make for a ridiculously small sample size -- especially in an exhibition venue like the Summer League -- yet sometimes it's just plain fun to take a gander at the underlying statistics. Taking it a step further, comparisons make for good starting points of conversation when it comes to certain groupings. Today, I want to concentrate on the highest tier of the 2016 draft picks who will soon enter the league as the most talked about rookies.
|Buddy Hield (3)||43.7%||21.6%||12.1%||33.3%||17.5%||15.3||88.4||96.3|
|Ben Simmons (4)||44.5%||33.3%||20.3%||22.9%||19.8%||17.4||91.2||101.4|
|Brandon Ingram (3)||39.9%||6.6%||13.3%||21.7%||16.4%||10.0||81.0||86.9|
|Jaylen Brown (3)||40.5%||11.1%||11.9%||22.7%||10.8%||12.1||89.3||103.0|
|Kris Dunn (2)||57.7%||19.8%||12.6%||29.7%||14.7%||30.2||114.9||106.0|
|Jamal Murray (3)||46.0%||15.3%||13.1%||29.8%||9.3%||17.7||100.5||103.9|
|Denzel Valentine (2)||37.7%||9.6%||17.7%||27.6%||22.9%||11.9||75.6||80.8|
Statistics are courtesy of RealGM and the numbers in parentheses are the amount of Summer League games under their belts.
For the sake of argument, I'm not going to focus too much on Simmons or Ingram because the Pelicans had no shot to draft either player once the lottery was decided. It is interesting to note, however, that Hield compares favorably in most categories but especially on the defensive glass. One would never know he has either a size or athletic deficiency against the top two draft picks.
I disliked Jaylen Brown months ago, during the days leading up to the draft, and now here in July. From both a physical and mental standpoint, his entire game needs an awful lot of work. And as to where Ben Simmons has shown improvement from the games in Utah to Las Vegas, Brown has trended in the opposite direction, averaging 7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 24 minutes of action on the campus of UNLV.
Kris Dunn is the only player currently sporting an enviable efficiency on the scoring side of things (and damn has he looked really good at times); however, he has not been perfect. First, the injury concerns surrounding him might indeed be real, as he missed the Timberwolves last game for concussive symptoms. After witnessing his tornadic style of play, Dunn will remain a high risk for injury until he learns to curb certain aspects. Secondly, his decision making has been worse than expected. For instance, the Timberwolves struggled to get into their offense against the Raptors when Dunn was tasked with initiating the offense.
Jamal Murray is raw and he's proven it over the course of the past week. In the moments I witnessed him in action, his porous defense was as advertised, but there have been numerous other faults as well. In his first two games, he had trouble getting involved in the offense and had a difficult time finding open shot attempts. He exploded for 29 points on Monday night, but his playmaking or displaying a quick first step were lacking.
So in the grand scheme of things, Buddy Hield has performed a lot better than his field goal percentages would indicate. As I tweeted during his first game against Lakers, he is a much more versatile player than nearly anyone has given him credit for and the advanced statistics above bare this out. His rebounding, decision making skills and defense all look good on paper. The fact that he's carrying such a high usage rate while almost the lowest turnover rate of the group deserves significant applause.
However, I believe the best is yet to come. Once he's surrounded by better talent, I expect him to shine even brighter. As a team, the Summer League Pelicans have a frigid field goal percentage (36.6%). Not only has this put more undue stress on Buddy Hield -- such as getting chased on the perimeter by two defenders -- it's hurt his overall numbers. He's had to force some bad shots as opponents have not had to key on stopping any other offensive threats. Additionally, Buddy should have an assist percentage in the neighborhood of 30%. He's made a number of passes that should have been converted into points.
Tomorrow, we'll take a look at Cheick Diallo and see how well he compares alongside the numerous big men drafted ahead of him.