Writers Roundtable: Warriors NBA Summer League Wrap-up
Most Impressive Warriors player In Summer League?
Jordan Ramirez: Admittedly, the only fact I knew about Justin Holiday coming into Summer League was that he was the older brother of Jrue. The sibling connection was real, and so did the assumption that “he only is here because his brother is in the league.” Well, I was quickly proven wrong. Holiday possessed the ability to score like no one else on the team could, and it stood out. He was smooth on the floor, showing a certain level of poise that you don’t see during the exhibition season. Most players are playing for spots on either NBA teams, their D-League affiliates or overseas, and they force the action with a lot of isolation plays a lot of the time. This provides the fans (and media) with exhausting basketball; the anti-San Antonio way.
Holiday wow’ed the Las Vegas crowd with his play and ability to put back his teammates’ air balls for game-winners. What may seem laughable is actually an extremely heads up play. He has a certain level of awareness and knows where to be. It’s only play during a July exhibition game, but Holiday has at least earned an invite to camp with his scoring ability, length and maturity. It helps the team is still looking for an additional bench scorer, and I believe Holiday could be the answer. Maybe not immediately, but with some games under his belt and an excellent coaching staff — like the Warriors now have — the future is bright.
Alex Torres: This one is quite obvious for me; Justin Holiday was easily the most impressive player on the Warriors roster in the NBA Summer League. Holiday was able to show the different dimensions of his game to NBA scouts. At 6-foot-6, Holiday has great size for the shooting guard position. His long arms allow him to be an effective defender and rebounder. Offensively, he showed that he can take the ball to the hoop, but also hit contested jumpers over defenders.
He scored 29 points on 9 for 15 from the field. That is truly impressive by Holiday, scoring 29 points on only 15 shots and also adding 13 rebounds in the process. Holiday also showed a killer instinct that led to the victory over the Phoenix Suns and also had the go-ahead bucket after nailing a long jumper, but a Jordan Clarkson tip-in robbed him of the glory. There is no doubt he will be on an NBA roster next season, he left a last impression at the NBA Summer League.
Steven Quach: Going into the Summer League, I didn’t expect too much from Aaron Craft, especially as an undrafted free agent. We all know about his defensive ability and hustle, but the Las Vegas Summer League was the perfect stage for him to showcase that he belonged. Many can argue that he outplayed Nemanja Nedovic, the Warriors’ first round draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Coach Kerr was also very fond of Craft and it was exemplified by his willingness to give Craft plenty of playing time after arriving late from the Orlando Summer League. Craft was often a vocal leader on the floor, rallying his teammates to come back from huge deficits.
Most disappointing Warriors player In Summer League?
Jordan Ramirez: Nemanja Nedovic impressed in the D-League last season. So, naturally, I expected him to perform with similar success against comparable talent in Vegas. The “first round talent” disappointed mightily. He looked lost, wanting to make the right play every single time — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but looking overwhelmed and out of place in the process. His play didn’t seem natural. He shot 45% in five games (all starting), but many were in the paint and he still seemed to shy away from the jumper.
For someone who is — as of now — slated to be the third point-guard off the bench and make the roster, he doesn’t look ready at all to contribute on a team with deep playoff aspirations. He didn’t get much time last season due to injury and NBA readiness, and it doesn’t look like he’ll receive much more if this type of play continues. You see flashes of NBA stability, but so do many players in the lower ranks.
Alex Torres: After winning the inaugural NBA Summer League championship, the Warriors were coming to Las Vegas with high expectations. However, the team was always close to winning the game in each contest, but couldn’t get it done. While the blame can’t be put on one individual, the most disappointing player this past week was Ognjen Kuzmic. The 52nd pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Kuzmic spent most of last season in the D-League and showed some promise during the D-League playoffs.
Most expected Kuzmic to make that leap to the next level after working hard this past year to help him acclimate to the speed of the game. The 24-year-old was hoping to show his value here in Las Vegas, but was unable to be very effective. He averaged 3.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Everyone knew he could rebound the basketball; he led the D-League with 11.7 rebounds per game, but at times looked lost and clumsy around the rim. Kuzmic needs to work on his footwork and hands so he can finish around the basket. He should be able to adjust to the speed with time, but with his 7-foot frame, he must be a force to be reckoned with inside the paint.
Steven Quach: The most disappointing player in the NBA Summer League was Serbian big man Ognjen Kuzmic. Although he rebounded the ball well, I thought his defense was a clear problem. He seemed to get beat on several occasions and allowed the opposing big man to get to the rim. As a 7-footer, I expected him to alter and block more shots, but his lack of speed hurt his ability to protect the paint. On the offensive side, it would have been nice to see him use his frame and height as an advantage, but didn’t. When he did get the ball inside, he fumbled away many of his teammates assists with his inability to catch and finish.
Which Warriors Summer League players do you see getting an invite to training camp?
Jordan Ramirez: Justin Holiday and Aaron Craft were impressive. Holiday looks like a naturally gifted scorer with a killer instinct that can translate to the professional ranks. He might be on the thinner side of his 6’6’ frame, but he carried the length and form to shoot over many. His two consecutive games of 29 and 26 points had many (including myself) wondering why he couldn’t make the 12-man roster over players like Ognjen Kuzmic and the aforementioned Nedovic. Holiday’s story with the Warriors is far from over.
Aaron Craft won’t light up the scoreboard with flashy highlights or game-winners very often. His game isn’t conducive to buckets, splashes or behind-the-back passes. What he flourishes in isn’t what most consider a “sexy” skill: defense. Craft actually played more minutes than Nedovic — 110 to 104, respectively — and had more assists, rebounds and only one less three than Nedovic. Craft isn’t considered a shooter, but still was able to manage a 46% from the field on 22 shots in five games. The battle for third PG off the bench is a real one.
Alex Torres: There are a few players that earned themselves a camp invite with their play at the NBA Summer League. Justin Holiday, who likely will be on the radar of various NBA teams. Aaron Craft was another player who surprised everyone with his impactful play on the floor. The Ohio State product also played in the Orlando Summer League, but didn’t have much success. He came to Las Vegas to prove he could be a quality NBA player.
His defense is second to none; he is a pest that annoys opposing point guards with his quick hands and strength. He is a floor general and his intelligence allows him to be a coach on the court. He is fearless when it comes driving down the lane and attacking the rim. He used hesitation moves and his speed on the perimeter to slice and dice his way into the paint.
Lastly, Mitchell Watt was another surprise for the Warriors. The 6-foot-10 power forward from the University of Buffalo showed he can hold his own against other big men in the league. Watt won’t likely be your first option off the bench, but his size and athleticism allow him to be a serviceable forward. He averaged six points and 5.6 rebounds per game in the Summer League. He did find himself fouling a lot, but his aggressiveness is a plus. When he went up against the Lakers physical front line, he finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Watt might not make the roster, but he earned himself a camp invite.
Steven Quach: As far as training camp invites go, Justin Holiday is clearly on the top of that list. Not only did he prove himself to the Warriors, but to the rest of the league as well. As mentioned above, Aaron Craft played well enough to get an invite as well, not sure if he will make the roster, but it will be interesting to see if he’s able to land on an NBA team with his defensive prowess. Orlando Johnson should also get a camp invite after averaging 10.8 points a game. He wasn’t scared to shoot the ball and has proven before that he is capable of being an NBA player. He is physical and can play defense. These three players have the ability getting to training camp and hopefully they are all able to land with an NBA team.