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Standout Players from the 2014 NBA Summer League

by Photo of Dylan Arthaud

Putting together some of the top players from this year’s Summer League.

Standout Players from the 2014 NBA Summer League

The Las Vegas Summer League wrapped up with its championship game last night, as the Sacramento Kings came back to win over the Houston Rockets for the title. 

But more important than the standout teams in the Summer League were the standout players. 

New draftees mixed with young NBA players to compete and prove their viability in the NBA. Some, though, go farther than just to show they can be in the Association--they show their ability to conquer the rookie tournament and establish themselves as potential NBA stars. Here is a look at some of those players.

1. Glen Rice, Jr.

Washington Wizards' Glen Rice, Jr. was named Vegas Summer League MVP on Sunday. His points-per-game average was the highest in the tournament at 25 a night. He also threw in nearly eight rebounds a game and shot nearly 47% from the field. His performance also beat Orlando Summer League top scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who averaged 24 PTS. 

The highlight of Rice's Summer League performance--likely also the highlight of the Summer League--came Saturday when he scored 36 points in a triple-overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs. He forced the third overtime with this amazing buzzer-beating play:

Rice joined the 76ers as the 35th-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft after a season in the D-League, but was traded to the Wizards on draft night. His small presence during his first NBA season last year did not allow Rice to make himself known. But now we are watching.

2. Andrew Wiggins

Yes, he is the No. 1 pick of the draft. He has also been at the center of a debate involving LeBron's move to Cleveland and a potential trade deal for Kevin Love. There has been a lot of hype surrounding Andrew Wiggins. But so far, he has lived up to it. 

Wiggins is without a doubt the rookie playing under the most pressure. And though Wiggins didn't post MVP-worthy stats in his Summer League debut, he played consistently and made some plays that showed his true athletic ability. 

The Cavaliers seem ready to sign Wiggins to a deal, and there is no questioning why. His debut performance shows he's one of the most ready to compete in the NBA, and do so with impact.

3. Nerlens Noel

Noel returns to the court after spending his first NBA season on the 76ers bench recovering from surgery. The injury originated in his year playing college basketball with the Kentucky Wildcats, when Noel was forced to sit out after tearing his ACL in the late season. Despite the injury, Noel entered the 2013 NBA Draft as the sixth overall pick. 

Noel made his NBA debut as he led the Orlando Summer League in blocks-per-game with 3.00, tying Vegas league leaders Cole Aldrich and Justin Hamilton. In his first pro game, Noel scored a game-high 19 points against the Orlando Magic in game one.

The Sixers were cautious with the injury-prone Noel, however. He averaged just 25 minutes in the three games he was put on the floor.

If he stays healthy, Noel could become an impressive force in the league, standing 6' 11" with a 7' 4" wingspan and amazing defense-offense talent. 

4. Anthony Bennett

Anthony Bennett was the disappointment of last year's draft class. He was unexpectedly chosen by the Cavaliers in the 2013 draft as the number one overall pick. In his first season with the Cavs, Bennett was a flop. His horrible season was plagued by a shoulder injury, sleep apnea and asthma, which some critics dismiss as excuses for a rookie who couldn't keep up with NBA players.

But in his summer league debut, Bennett sought to prove those critics wrong. He averaged 13.3 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game. He scored 13 points and took 14 rebounds for a double-double in the first game of the tournament.

This is what big-bodied Anthony Bennett is supposed to look like:

"My whole first year I was kind of buried in pressure," Bennett told the National Post. He describes the season as one of "learning." And it seems that he has regained his confidence with his dominating summer performance.

Summer league has never proven to be a sure predictor of success. But if the 2014 Summer League can say anything with certainty, it is that the Cavaliers are developing a great team. With Wiggins being signed, Bennett making a name for himself, and LeBron James' return, the Cavs have an exciting season ahead.

Editor's Picks

• Dwight Buycks, Toronto Raptors [19.7 points, 4.3 assists, 46% shooting]
• Donatas Motiejunas, Houston Rockets [16.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 59% shooting]
• Lazeric Jones, Chicago Bulls [10.8 points, 4.6 assists, 51% shooting, 66% from three]
• Tony Mitchell, D-League Select [19.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 45% shooting]

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