Tim Hardaway Jr. dominates NBA Summer League, Nik Stauskas wins title

Dylan Burkhardt

It’s been a productive summer for former Wolverines at the next level. Mitch McGary was one of the stars of the Orlando Summer League before Tim Hardaway Jr. tore up the Las Vegas Summer League.

Hardaway’s NBA career continues to blossom. He averaged 22.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in Summer League action, checking in as the No. 2 scorer in Las Vegas.

Hardway earned an invite to participate with the USA Basketball select team, but it also appears that the New York Knicks are ready to start building around him as they look to trade other pieces including J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert

“They’re working on trying to make a move in the backcourt,” the NBA source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking said Sunday.

The idea that the Knicks are trying to make a trade to balance the roster isn’t earth-shattering. President Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have mentioned the Knicks have a surplus in the backcourt, with Mills saying last week the Knicks are “heavy” at shooting guard. The issue for the Knicks, of course, is deciding whom to send out in a trade and figuring out what they can get in return in such a transaction.

Tim Hardaway Jr. has been deemed virtually untouchable, per a source.

Hardaway has settled into the NBA better than most would have ever guessed and appears to be poised for a big second season under Phil Jackson.


Stauskas helps Kings to title

Nik Stauskas hasn’t done anything earth shattering in summer action, but he’s held his own as the Kings have won the Vegas Summer League Championship. Stauskas is averaging 9.8 points, 2.2 assists and two rebounds per game. He also signed a contract with Nike.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix says that Stauskas’s summer league performance proves he was drafted too high. “Early on he played pretty well and was making some shots , but as the summer league progressed he started to taper off a little bit,” Mannix said. “You started to see some of the questions emerge a bit: Can he beat guys off the dribble? Can he be a factor defensively? He’s athletic and he can shoot the basketball but at that pick No. 8 overall I thought you could get someone with much more upside.”

Stauskas had 10 points, four rebounds an an assist, going 3-of-6 from the floor in the Summer League Championship game.

Burke facing tough questions, will play with USA Select Team

Trey Burke has had an up and down professional career thus far after his dominate college years. Burke struggled in his first summer league before starting the season on the injured list with a hand injury. He eventually put together a successful rookie season, earning a place on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. But the Jazz drafted another guard with the potential to play point, Dante Exum, and now Burke struggled in summer league once again. ESPN had a harsh critique of his game in Vegas, where he averaged 9 points, four rebounds and four assists per game while shooting just 30% from the floor.

Despite almost a full season of running point exclusively, Burke has struggled in Vegas. He’s been atrocious shooting the ball this summer, barely connecting on 30 percent of his field goal attempts, and has not really exhibited the type of playmaking that gives you confidence in his ability to hold on to his starting role. With rookieDante Exum flashing glimpses of bona fide brilliance on the court, Burke’s only chance at keeping his starting job is by proving that he and Exum can play alongside one another. That means Burke has to become a more dependable perimeter shooter, especially given that he’s not a good finisher around the rim to begin with. Although Exum’s electric play also comes with the inconsistent shooting expected of rookie, if I’m going to bet on a point guard who can’t shoot, I’ll put my money on the Australian. Burke’s small stature and lack of quickness dictate that he must win the skill war. Otherwise, he’s little more than Wally Pipp to Exum’s Lou Gehrig.

Burke will also participate with the USA Basketball select team, according to a report by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.

Robinson, Morris, Morgan hoping to catch on

Glenn Robinson III averaged 7.7 points and three rebounds per game in Summer League, finishing the summer with his best performance, 17 points and three rebounds against the Pelicans. The Wolves resigned Robbie Hummel and now have just one guaranteed roster spot remaining. Robinson will be fighting to be signed to that final roster spot, but there are other potential options as well. The Wolves could buyout Alexey Shved to open another spot and there’s also the possibility that Kevin Love is traded.

Jordan Morgan also wrapped up Summer Leauge on a high note, scoring 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbing a rebound in 18 minutes. Morgan averaged 6 points and three rebounds per game and played in three of six contests.

Darius Morris finished summer action with averages of 9 points, three rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 48% from the field.

  • Kenny

    Bleacher Report’s Joseph Zucker took a much flattering comments on Stauskas and Kings. “Stauskas is still a work in progress, but so far he’s making the Kings look slightly smarter for taking him with the eighth pick.”


    • Northern Blue

      I agree with him, Stauskas is going to be one of the more impactful rookies. He has an NBA ready offensive game, even more so than Hardaway who had a great offensive rookie season and also couldn’t defend. There isn’t a weakness in Nik’s offensive game unless you want to cite the lack of elite level athletecism, which I think he is underrated in because of the white man stigma.

  • Northern Blue

    Never over analyze summer league. Stauskas wasn’t forcing anything and I thought he looked great. They had a stacked team for summer league, so there was no need to play the alpha dog role.
    Also, Burke’s already proven he can play in the NBA. He will play better with better players.

    And I would temper the expectations of THJR. Think he can be like a JR Smith off the bench that will get hot. His defence was absolutely attrocious whenever I watched him, probably making him better suited to a guy who can be a featured scorer on 2nd unit. Looked much improved driving the ball.
    Wouldn’t put too much stock in to any of these guys performances though. Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Josh Selby are probably the best all time Summer league perfromers and while Marco and Nate are solid rotation players, none of these guys strike any fear into anyone.

  • Kenny

    Speaking of Jazz, Exum struggled as much as Burke did. Burke didn’t play their last game because of upper respiratory infection, wonder if the illness also affected his performance in earlier games.

  • MAZS

    I think Nik learned that (at least in the Summer League) ball movement isn’t prized. There were so many times that he gave the ball up in expectation that he would get it back…..because he was wide open–but not so much. Nik didn’t sniff a pass in the 4th quarter yesterday—nor nary a one from McLemore or Ayers all “season”. I’m thinking that might not change much with Cousins and Gay during the regular season—Nik is going to have to adjust.

    • Northern Blue

      Nice call. On a team that emphasized ball movement, Nik would thrive. Could do some serious damage on the Spurs.
      Based on the highlights I have seen he is scoring off the curl hand off from the left corner like he used to with Michigan. If they don’t run plays like this for him in Sac town he isn’t in the best position trying to play off ball dominant players like Gay and Cousins. Gay never learned how to pass. Not quite sure who is going to play the point for them eithe, Mcallum?

      • MAZS

        Collison has first crack

    • jamieh2

      Exactly. Everyone is trying to impress the coaches in a super-short amount of time, and that isn’t with ball movement. Stauskas is the 8th pick with a 2-year guaranteed contract and money. He doesn’t need to kill anyone during summer league to get his shot at playing time when the season comes around. Let’s see what happens once his team is running actual plays for him under an actual coach.

  • Cory

    It’s a pretty bold statement to say their first summer league proves someone was drafted too high……Can the kid at least play a real game in the league before anointing him a bust? Ridiculous.

    • brooklyn_guy

      No kidding. In general I don’t mind Mannix but in this case he is just looking to justify the position he took on draft night that Stauskas was taken too high. It’s a perfect example of confirmation bias.

  • Chris De Sana

    So………. if GRIII does not stick on an NBA roster will it have been a good decision to enter the draft?

    • MAZS

      I guess you’ll have to ask Glenn and his family

    • jamieh2

      Based on all the crap I’ve taken over at MGoBlog for insinuating that he screwed up by leaving early and missing the 1st round, yes it will still have been a good decision, because he will be able to develop his game in the D-League. Or Europe. Or something.

      IMO he would have been a 1st round lock if he had come back and put together a good season, or just played like he did in the last month or so.