2014 Las Vegas Summer League Recap

Summer League

The  Sacramento Kings won the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League earlier this week, featuring newly acquired Alex Oriahki at the center position (sneak peak into celebration below). Oriahki was just one of a slew of former Huskies participating in Vegas this summer. Others included Deandre Daniels (Toronto Raptors), Jerome Dyson (Charlotte Hornets), Niels Giffey (Utah Jazz), Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat) and Roscoe Smith (Los Angeles Lakers). Here are the complete statistics from Vegas:

Player

G

GS MPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG TO

PPG

Daniels

5 5 21.4 .36 .26 6.2 .2 .4 1.8

10

Dyson

4 0 16.8 .22 .22 1.3 1.3 0.0 2.8 3.8

Giffey

5 0 12.2 .25 .17 1.8 .6 .6 .6 3.4

Napier

4 4 27 .28 .250 1.3 2.8 2.5 3.5

10.3

Oriahki 4 4 12.5 .40 0.0 3.0 .5 0.0 1.5

2.8

Smith 5 0 12.8 .56 0.0 2.2 0.0 0.0 .4

5.0

 

Deandre Daniels

Getty Images

Getty Images

Out of all UCONN players in the two summer leagues, it is safe to say Deandre Daniels was the most consistent. Starting all five games at small forward for the Raptors, Daniels contributed UCONN-esque numbers of 10 points/6 rebounds per game. In a July 18th win versus the LA Clippers, Daniels registered a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Although roughly half of Daniels field goal attempts were from deep, he led the team in rebounding, proving he is not content to just hover on the perimeter but ready to mix it up in the middle. Already leading the team in rebounding, when he packs muscle onto his scrawny frame, Daniels will be a force. It has been rumored he will play this upcoming season overseas which will give him time to mature before returning to the Raptors next season.

Jerome Dyson

July 10th Jerome Dyson signed with Dinamo Sassari of the Italian Series A League, according to Sportando. The same release stated Dyson had an NBA out in his contract until July 23, allowing him to sign with a NBA team if his performance in the summer league won him a roster spot. Unfortunately for Dyson, he was stuck behind first-round pick PJ Hairston on the depth chart and averaged only 4 points in 17 minutes of play. Dyson will return to Italy next season teaming up with former Louisville guard Edgar Sosa and BC/Fairfield transfer Rakim Sanders. The club is a newcomer to the Euroleague (European NBA) and hopes to boost their championship aspirations with the addition of Dyson who averaged 17 points/4 rebounds with Enel Brindisi (Italian Series A) a season ago.

Niels Giffey

Following two summer leagues where he struggled to find playing time, Niels Giffey has signed in Germany.

Shabazz Napier

Player G GS MPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG TO PPG
Napier (LVSL) 4 4 27 .28 .250 1.3 2.8 2.5 3.5 10.3
Napier (OSL) 5 5 27.6 .273 .154 3.0 4.6 1.8 4.8 9.2

Here is a comparison of Napier’s statistics from the OSL to the LVSL. In Vegas, Napier shot the ball better (it couldn’t have gotten much worse) and his turnovers were down, but he averaged only 2.8 assists per game, third on the Heat. As I wrote earlier, I am not worried by Napier’s struggles. The learning curve is much sharper for a point guard and especially in a summer league setting with players hailing from all over the world and little time to practice offensive sets. Another point to consider: Napier finalized his contract at the end of the summer league. With this final distraction off his mind it will be all basketball from now until training camp.

Alex Oriahki

AO Kings Gear

AO’s Kings Gear

July 12th the Sacramento Kings acquired the draft rights to Oriahki in exchange for guard Isaiah Thomas. Oriahki was drafted by the Suns in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft but the Suns’ talented front court forced him to begin the season overseas. Oriahki started 4 games for the Kings in Vegas, averaging 3 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block per contest. This block against Cameron Bairstow and the Chicago Bulls made it to nba.com’s summer league highlights. This season, Oriahki faces another uphill battle to make a Kings roster featuring  veterans Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, Reggie Evans and Jason Thompson. If he is unable to make the Kings roster this year, Oriahki will return overseas or play another year with a D League affiliate.

Roscoe Smith

Undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, Smith earned an invite to play with the Lakers in Vegas. Scoe averaged 5 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes per game, playing with his typical high energy and intensity. Smith is a long shot to make a NBA roster this season and will most likely play overseas.

 

Sacramento Kings Championship Celebration via Snap Chat:

Kings Celebrate Championship

The Sacramento Kings celebrate their championship

Olliewood Boulevard

According to Yahoo Sports, Kevin Ollie has reached agreement on a $3 million annual contract extension to keep the highly regarded coach in Storrs for years to come. Terms of the deal are not yet available, but it has been rumored to be at least a 5 year deal. Currently, Ollie has 4 years left on a 5 year, $7.5 million contract, a contract that has been under discussion since UCONN’s National Championship victory. Since April, Ollie  has been tied to numerous NBA vacancies – with the Cleveland Cavaliers emerging most recently along with the Lakers/Knicks – keeping UCONN country on edge throughout the process. Ollie’s newly restructured contract, while double his previous deal, is still $10 million less than the $25 million Steve Kerr received from the Golden State Warriors. Many saw Kerr’s deal as a baseline for Ollie – as both he and Kerr are first time head coaches – with Ollie potentially procuring more money due to his recent success. As I said in an earlier post, Ollie was drawn back to Connecticut for incentives other than money, now, we have $10 million reasons as proof. Don’t be surprised if this is his last contract at UCONN, but hey, we’ve got him now and you don’t. Look for Ollie to continue his success at the college level.

The only question that remains, where will they put Olliewood Boulevard?

Olliewood or Hollywood?

I first heard rumors of Kevin Ollie to the NBA during a team breakfast at the Big East Tournament in 2011. In only his first year as an assistant coach, it was evident Ollie had the coaching gene and could not be kept a secret much longer. Earlier today, ESPN.com reported the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in Kevin Ollie to fill their newly vacant head coaching job. This poses a haunting question to UCONN fans- Olliewood or Hollywood?

Why do the Los Angeles Lakers want Kevin Ollie?

First, lets take a look at why the Lakers (or any NBA team) want Kevin Ollie:

Reputation

The most attractive quality surrounding Kevin Ollie is not his 2014 National Championship ring, no Ollie was on the NBA radar far before his magical postseason. Kevin Ollie is attractive to NBA teams because of the respect he garners from his peers- peers who just so happen to be 4x NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant and 4x MVP Lebron James. James, alluded to the aforementioned “coaching gene” in an interview after the Huskies win while Durant had this to say in 2013. “Kevin Ollie changed the culture with the Thunder,” Durant commented, “Just like he’s doing now with UConn. He was a big part of what we do, and still is, because of what he instilled in us. He’s always going to be a brother of mine.”Durant continued to say he had no doubt in his mind Ollie could coach at the NBA level.

The Lakers, coming off a 27-55 season that left them with more questions than answers, have one definitive answer. With an aging Kobe Bryant returning from knee surgery, the team will undoubtedly make a push for super-star caliber free agents Lebron (2014) or KD (2016). If the Lakers were to allow James or Durant their choice of coach, Los Angeles becomes a much more attractive destination with Kevin Ollie the main beneficiary.

Image

According to an ESPN NBA attendance report, the Clippers have drawn more fans than the Lakers for each of the past three seasons. In other words, “Lob City” has replaced “Showtime” in the city of angels. Recent Lakers teams conjure images of aging, injury-prone stars whereas the Clippers are associated with high-flying, energetic excitement (think Pau Gasol hook shot vs Blake Griffin alley-oop). What better way to reverse that perception than to hire a youthful, energetic coach such as Kevin Ollie?

Also, the aftermath of the Donald Sterling saga has forced Clippers sponsors and fans alike to question their loyalties. What better way to attract the in-between/undecided/disgusted than to bring in a coach whose highest values are that of family and brotherhood. As we have seen in Connecticut, Kevin Ollie is not just a basketball coach but a community activist. Given recent events, it is not surprising the Lakers see value in hiring not only a community man, but also a local success story all Angelenos can rally around.

Why he will go

  • Money. The NBA can offer a higher salary, plain and simple. Ollie is slated to make roughly $1.25 million this year at UCONN. Former Lakers coach D’Antoni? $4 million.
  • The Job. UCLA. North Carolina. Duke. Kentucky. Historic jobs that represent the pinnacle of college basketball. Knicks. Lakers. Celtics. Historic jobs that represent the pinnacle of NBA basketball. Two of the three NBA jobs are currently open, who knows when they will be available again (although recent history suggests soon). Does KO find the pull of these historic jobs too hard to resist?
  • Location. Ollie grew up in Los Angeles yet has called Connecticut home since his college days. LA poses a return to childhood stomping grounds while the Knicks job allows him to remain in Connecticut. Hmmmm…
  • The Challenge. Kevin Ollie promised a National Championship and he delivered… in just his second season. How can he possibly top that? An NBA Championship. In his first season.

Why he will stay

  • Money. Unlike many college coaches, Kevin Ollie is coming off a 13 year NBA career that saw him collect roughly $20 million according to basketballreference.com. When you have that much in the piggy bank (probably multiple piggy banks at this point) it becomes less about the money and more about the right fit. UCONN is the right fit.
  • The Job. I mentioned dream jobs such as UNC, Duke and Kentucky above. What’s better than those dream jobs? Leading your alma mater to a National Championship. What’s better than leading your alma mater to a National Championship? Leading your alma mater to multiple National Championships.
  • Location. KO lives with his family in Glastonbury on a hill overlooking the town, a fitting setting for a man charged with overlooking our state’s main interest. Plus, you can’t beat the short 45 minute commute. In other news, UCONN’s new state-of-the-art $35 million practice facility should be ready next year, offering a bit of an upgrade from the dungeon that is Gampel’s basement.
  • The Challenge. Jim Calhoun has three. Kevin Ollie has one. Three more and Jim Calhoun Way becomes Kevin Ollie Boulevard.

The Verdict

Breathe easy Husky fans, Kevin Ollie isn’t going anywhere…yet. While it is certain Ollie will end up on the sidelines of a NBA franchise one day, his mission is not complete. The collegiate level allows for the development of not only basketball skills, but life skills, a part of the process you can tell Ollie takes great pride in. His efforts have been recognized by our incoming recruits- Daniel Hamilton a 6’7 wing from Los Angeles- spoke to the “brotherhood” at UCONN as the deciding factor in his recruitment. Sam Cassell Jr, son of former NBA player Sam Cassell (a longtime friend of Ollie’s), echoed Hamilton’s sentiments and added KO was the type of coach he could play for. Ollie is not the type to lure recruits under the false pretense of “family” just to bolt to greener (literally) pastures. Don’t forget, Kevin Ollie could have remained with the OKC Thunder in a front office position upon retirement. Something drew him back to Connecticut, and that something is more than just a paycheck.

Another point to consider is the relationship between Ollie and Jim Calhoun. Ollie has said in the past Calhoun was a role model/mentor to him and credits the Hall of Fame coach for much of his success. Upon his departure, Calhoun hand-picked Ollie as his successor and gave KO the reigns to a program he started from scratch. I don’t see Ollie leaving UCONN on a whim, especially after all that was entrusted to him by his mentor. Down the road? Absolutely. And you cannot blame him. Ollie is a competitor and to win at the highest level is undeniably a goal he hopes to one day achieve. When KO does leave UCONN, he will leave the program stable and hopefully with a few more pieces of hardware. As for now, it’s Olliewood over Hollywood.