Here is an alphabetical list of former UConn players currently abroad. Most leagues are already underway and the remainder tip off this week. Check back for weekly updates on your favorite former Huskies. The list will be updated as more information becomes available.
The 2014 Orlando Summer League ended July 11 with the Philadelphia 76ers taking home the trophy at the expense of Memphis. The OSL featured Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat), Jeremy Lamb (OKC Thunder), Niels Giffey (Memphis Grizzlies) and Lasan Kromah (Brooklyn Nets). Orlando was not particularly kind to the former Huskies, Giffey and Kromah struggled to find minutes playing behind team investments while Lamb and Napier laid bricks. Here are complete player statistics from Orlando and a closer look at Lamb/Napier’s numbers:
You can’t look at Lamb’s statistics without two numbers sticking out, 32 and 17. Lamb shot a horrid 4-23 (17%) from deep in 3 games and only 32% from the field overall. With such a silky stroke, those numbers are unfathomable. On the plus side, he did fill up the box score for the Thunder while playing 31 minutes per game, good for third in the league. Lamb’s 17.3 scoring mark (6th overall) and 80% from the free throw line at least show he can get to the line and put points on the board even when his shot is off. Conditioning may also have been a factor in the poor shooting- Lamb will by nothing but net once again by the start of the year.
Similar to Lamb, Shabazz Napier struggled shooting the ball in his first summer league. Napier shot only 27% from the field and a sub-Lamb 15% from three. What could possibly be more shocking than that? 3P% was not even the most alarming statistic. It’s 4.8. That is the number of turnovers Napier averaged in 5 OSL games, including 8 in a match-up with Celtics first-round pick Marcus Smart. Though that is unusually high, I am not worried about the turnovers- Napier can handle the basketball, we all know that. It takes time to adjust to the speed of the game and that is all he needs, time. If anything, Napier’s ability to battle through the turnovers and shooting troubles and still have the confidence to make plays (4.6 apg), defend (1.8 spg) and score the basketball (9.2 ppg on 80 ft%) should serve as a positive.
2014 Las Vegas Summer League
The Sacramento Kings, featuring newly acquired center Alex Oriahki, have won the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League. Stay tuned for a recap of all UCONN players in Vegas including Jerome Dyson, Deandre Daniels and Shabazz Napier…
A number of former UCONN players will participate in the 2014 NBA Summer League, held in Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21). The Orlando league will feature Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat), Jeremy Lamb (OKC Thunder), Niels Giffey (Memphis Grizzlies) and Lasan Kromah (Brooklyn Nets) with all games taking place at the Amway Center, the Orlando Magic practice court. Teams will play 5 games in 7 days with a championship game held on July 11th. A point system determines the standings with 4 points awarded to the winning team and 1 point awarded to the winner of each quarter, for a total of 8 potential points per game.
Niels Giffey flew under the radar for much of the season at UCONN despite leading the AAC in three point shooting percentage. The summer league provides a great opportunity for players to show their stuff in front of an audience that includes personnel from every NBA team. Jeremy Lin is a great example of a player who turned a strong summer league showing in a multi-million dollar contract. I believe Giffey has NBA talent, by July 11th we will know if NBA teams feel the same.
Shabazz Napier was selected by the Miami Heat with the 24th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Many believe this was directly influenced by the team’s desire to retain superstar forward LeBron James, a huge advocate of Napier. King James believed Napier should have been the first point guard taken in the draft and I completely agree. Napier will get his first chance to prove he is the top point guard in the draft class when he battles 6th overall pick Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics tomorrow at 11am.
Jeremy Lamb is a star in the making for the OKC Thunder. With two full seasons under his belt, Lamb will transition into a third scoring option to complement the dynamic Westbrook/Durant duo. After finishing in the top three in scoring during last year’s summer league (18.8ppg), look for Lamb to take home the scoring title in 2014. Also, on a team featuring Lamb, Perry Jones III (Baylor) and Steven Adams (Pitt)- don’t be surprised if OKC runs through the competition along their inevitable path to the championship game.
Games to look forward to…
Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics, July 5th, 11AM: Key Matchup: Napier vs Smart
Memphis Grizzlies vs OKC Thunder, July 5th, 5PM: Giffey vs Lamb
OKC Thunder vs Brooklyn Nets, July 7th, 7PM: Lamb vs Kromah
Miami Heat vs Detroit Pistons, July 8th, 5PM: Napier vs Peyton Siva (Louisville)
Here is the complete lineup of the 2014 Orlando Summer League, courtesy of nba.com.
I will post recaps of all the games and video links as (or if) they are available. All games will be televised on NBA TV.
I drove up to Buffalo for the NCAA Tournament games at the First Niagara Center, home of the Sabres. Here is what I took away from the 1st and 2nd rounds:
ROLE PLAYERS EMERGENCE
We made up a 10 point first half deficit with Shabazz on the bench in foul trouble. Down 19-9 , it would have been easy to fall apart with the undeniable leader sidelined but instead, we came together. Terrence and Niels combined for 15 points/12 rebounds Saturday and Brimah provided a game-saving AND-1 Thursday. In 2011 it was a Jeremy Lamb steal and dunk vs San Diego State, Shabazz free throws vs Kentucky and Scoe’s 4 blocks in the championship game. This is what has to happen to win championships. Role players need to make big plays. Shabazz is undoubtedly our Kemba but Kemba would be the first to say he needed a team making plays behind him. A knock on UCONN I’ve heard is we lack players outside Shabazz to make winning plays, not necessarily game winning shots but the small plays you need to make to win in March- get a big stop, snag a big rebound or finish a tough put-back in traffic- if Buffalo is any indication, our bench responded to the critics.
UCONN DEFENSE IS BACK
Nova shot only 35% for the game, 11-51 from the field and 11-31 from beyond the arc. Our guards had 10 steals led by Kromah’s 4 contributing to 16 Nova turnovers. Not only did we create turnovers but we capitalized as well outscoring Nova 20-4 in points off turnovers. Nova went 11:24 in the first half without a field goal. On Thursday, during the last St Joe’s possession of the first half active defense caused a shot clock violation giving us the last shot. The Huskies responded to a subpar beginning holding the Hawks to 25% on shots outside the paint after the first half.
ABILITY TO CLOSE OUT GAMES
The debacle that was inbounding the ball in the final minutes of the AAC tournament game against Cincinnati did not say much to our ability to close a game. Buffalo was different. Brimah came up with a huge AND-1 in the final minute against St Joe’s, the defense forced a shot clock violation and Shabazz/Niels executed a full court inbound play to near perfection before Shabazz took over in OT. Deandre put us ahead 37-36 with 14 minutes remaining against Nova and we controlled the remainder of the game never allowing the Wildcats to get closer than 5 points.
To complement my last bullet is the kryptonite to Calhoun Era teams: Free Throws. UCONN shot 90% (18-20) vs St Joe’s and 79% (22-28) vs Nova. I hope this becomes a staple of the Ollie Era as it is certainly conducive to tournament wins. In the last 5 minutes of each game UCONN shot 90% , 15-16 in OT first round and 20-23 Saturday. Impressive given the added tournament pressure and location at a neutral site.
- Not a great UCONN turnout- Buffalo is evidently not a popular spring break destination
- Syracuse fans miss us, Requiem For The Big East must have struck a chord
- It’s not spring in Buffalo either
- Bars close at 2 in Boston/DC/SF but 4 in Buffalo, that will never make sense to me and it shouldn’t to you
CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR A LOOK FORWARD TO THE SWEET 16 AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN