Former Wolverines excelling in NBA Summer League

Dylan Burkhardt
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It’s NBA Summer League season as the Orlando Summer League wrapped up last week and the Las Vegas league is now in full swing. Michigan is well represented as seven different Wolverines are on summer league rosters including Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, Darius Morris and Jordan Morgan.

Mitch McGary was a star of the Orlando Summer League, averaging 15 points, six rebounds and 1.3 assists in four games. McGary’s top performance was a vintage 18 point, 13 rebound and two assist showing in a win over Brooklyn.

“It feels really good you know,” McGary said when asked last week what it felt like to be on the floor again. “It’s been a long time coming just to get back on the court and it felt good to help the team win.”

McGary is healthy and looks like he could fight for a spot in Oklahoma City’s rotation off the bench.

“First-rounder Mitch McGary reportedly looked healthy and a series of encouraging performances was highlighted by an 18-point, 13-rebound line against the Nets,” Sports Illustrated wrote. “The Thunder will hope McGary can fill a garbage-man type supporting role as they mount another playoff push.”

McGary did a little bit of everything in summer league action, knocking down a few spot-up jumpers, playing in the post and even getting involved in transition as he loves to do. But at the end of the day he knows that he has an immediate chance to make an impact with his effort, hustle and rebounding – areas where he’s always thrived.

“I’m just trying to play with a lot of energy, stay active and trying to get my team extra possessions,” McGary told the Thunder website.

Nik Stauskas made his summer debut on Friday night and made his first shot just 17 seconds into the game.

“For some reason, [even during] my time at Michigan, it was the same thing – if a play was drawn up for me for the first play of the game, I’d normally knock it down,” Stauskas told Kings.com. “When I saw [the] first one go down, it [gave me] a little bit of confidence, and from there on, I was just playing.”

Michigan’s highest drafted player since Jamal Crawford finished with 14 points and handed out three assists in his first professional action. Stauskas followed that up with 10 points and an assist on Sunday, going just 3-of-10 from the field and 2-of-6 from the free throw line.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is back in action in summer league play after earning a spot on the All-NBA Rookie Team last season. Hardaway has played two games and is averaging 22.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and an assist per game with the Knicks.

“The Knicks guard has dominated the first two games scoring the ball like few others,” NBA Draft.net wrote. “He is shooting the ball well from outside and he is getting to the rim really easily scoring and getting fouled. He already had big games in the league last year and defiantly he seems more mature in his game taking advantage of his athleticism.”

Trey Burke also made his first appearance in this summer on Saturday night, scoring 11 points, handing out four assists and grabbing four rebounds. Burke’s struggles last summer were well publicized, but he’s growing more comfortable in the professional ranks and was named to the NBA All-Rookie team last season.

Glenn Robinson III and Jordan Morgan are still teammates in Minnesota with the Timberwolves Summer League unit. Robinson had 7 points, five rebounds and three steals in his summer debut while Morgan scored two points and grabbed a rebound in 13 minutes.

“It’s crazy, the speed of the game is a lot different,” Robinson told the NWI Times after his debut. “I think that’s something I’ve got to get used to, in guarding different positions at this league, whether it’s one through four.”

Robinson is still fighting the same battle that he faced during his time at Michigan – getting pushed up the lineup to the four position.

“We had him at a disadvantage a little tonight, playing at the four, but we know we feel we can do that, play that 3-4 position for us at times,” Wolves Summer League coach Sam Mitchell told the NWI Times. “I thought he did a good job for his first NBA game.”

Robinson is still fighting some of his negative reputation from college and had 8 points on 2-of-7 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four turnovers in a 67-61 loss Sunday night to the Washington Wizards.

Darius Morris scored 12 points in 14 minutes off of the bench for the San Antonio Spurs in their first action of the summer and had 6 points, five assists and five rebounds off the bench in San Antonio’s loss to the Cavs on Sunday.

Morris is looking to rebound and find a place in the league after bouncing around with the Philadelphia 76eers, LA Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies for a total of 27 games last season. He finished the year with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA D-League where he averaged 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds per game and set a NBDL playoff record when scored 51 points and handed out 18 assists.

  • JimmyZ5

    Poor damn Glenn Robinson. Fighting the “negative reputation” from college. I know he was never all-world, but GRIII shouldn’t have a negative reputation. And now he’s playing 4 in summer league too? Just play your game, Glenn, just play your game.

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      NBA media certainly seems a bit harsh… Running columns about Glenn’s motor, etc. after his first SL game. Hope he can catch on.

      • JimmyZ5

        Dylan – I have a question about LeVert (might be more appropriate for the next mailbag).

        He’s obviously been injured, but the expectations for him going into next season are very high. Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment? I just wonder how much work he’s been able to put in on a broken foot. It’s not easy to take the next “leap” (ask GRIII), and he’s been injured most of the offseason. Any idea what kind of work he’s been able to put in on his game and body this offseason? Sanderson tweeted a picture of him, with arms looking significantly bigger — and it made me wonder what kind of physical and skill related strides he may be making this offseason.

        • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

          He’s been off his feet since the surgery, but is expected back soon and is expected to participate in practices before Italy as well as the trip to Italy.

          I’m sure there’s still some rehab and upper body strength training that he can participate in with Jon Sanderson.

          I think he took ‘the leap’… The biggest thing now for him is to mentally refine parts of his game. A month off probably won’t hurt him too bad and I suspect they’ll be very careful with him in August.

        • ajerome33

          I am certainly no doctor and have no inside knowledge on Caris’ injury, but I will mention that my son is attending one of the Wolverine camps this week and Caris was out running around and interacting with the kids today on the court. If I didn’t know he had a foot injury I wouldn’t have suspected anything was wrong looking at him today. No boot, gym shoes on, the only thing he looked like he was avoiding was jumping.

    • FL Wolve

      If it wasn’t clear already, it should be soon but GRIII’s handle is so poor that he is going to struggle playing a wing position in the NBA, as he would’ve had he played a wing position in college. He’s just not a good ball handler which is going to be very concerning for his future career prospects.

  • DoubES

    Click the tile link for the 07.09 game at the end of the embedded video for a vintage McGary post pass steal.

    Man I love his game. At least the part of me that thinks “What could have been for UM hoops this year” anytime I see him play is getting smaller as time goes on. Best of luck to him.

    • Sood

      I love his game, too, and think wherever he ends up he’ll be an impact player. The best moments are after he’s made a layup and he’s just trying to get his body turned around as fast as possible and head back on D.

      One thing I don’t like is calling him a “garbage man.” I know it’s meant positively, but it demeans his skills and is a lazy cliche to boot.

  • Kenny

    If Mitch stays health, he will have a heck of pro career ahead of him. GRIII should’ve returned to school as THJr did. D-Mo can be a solid back-up in the league but he needs some luck to find a spot.

  • QuickDarshan

    McGary looked great. Saw a little bit of GR3 and he’s being held back by some selfish teammates that never pass (Shved and Lavine). Hopefully Morris can catch on. He was horribly misused when he played with the Lakers and I fear he hasn’t gotten a chance to really show what he can do.

    • JimmyZ5

      I’m glad you said this. Like Burke last year, I think that Glenn’s game doesn’t translate well to the summer league. I think he’s much better suited in a system where he can pick his spots and settle into a niche. His motor gets a bad rap, but he was so often just a good teammate who allowed our team to flow. I think he has a much better chance to be impressive in training camp when the coaches see he can play a role.