The NBA Summer League in Orlando wrapped up competition Thursday afternoon and it went a little something like this:
The Mavericks matched up with the Detroit Pistons in the championship Thursday. After a back and forth battle with Detroit, Dallas came out on top 83-81 in overtime on a Johnathan Motley buzzer beater. The Mavs finished the Orlando Summer League as the only undefeated team, despite losing a couple of their main contributors to injury earlier in the week.
A roster that combined some notable Texas Legends with a few rookies and overseas players, the Mavericks definitely fought for their championship tees, coming back from large deficits in nearly every game.
As the summer transitions to the Las Vegas Summer League, these are a few of the stand out players from the Orlando roster to keep an eye on:
The former Baylor Bear entered the week in Orlando with the luxury and expectations of already having a two-way contract with the Mavericks and Legends. Watching him this week it’s clear he’s still a work in progress. (And possibly still recovering from injury.) He played in four of the five games, and mostly saw only limited time, averaging 7 points and 5.3 rebounds and shooting 39 percent from the floor. But on Thursday Motley player major minutes, and showed up in a major way (18 points, 10 rebounds, 7/14 from the field), including this sweet game winner:
Motley is a rebounder and hustler, and will join the Mavericks in Vegas looking to take the momentum from Thursday forward in to what hopes to be a long relationship with the Mavs.
Ding joined the Mavericks this summer after playing in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he just won the Most Valuable Player award. The 6’7”, 23-year-old wing established himself early in Orlando as a solid contributor. He peppered the box score, putting up 8.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2 assists and shooting 40 percent from the floor in five games. More than anything he looked to be aggressive on both ends, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up and draw contact. Look for him to grow from this week as he joins the Mavs squad in Vegas.
I’m not sure anyone made a bigger on-court statement for the Mavericks than Dwight Buycks. From the beginning, the 28-year-old combo guard established himself as a leader, putting up 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.5 steals per game - while shooting a solid 46 percent from the floor. Buycks has bounced around his whole pro career, playing overseas some and appearing in 20 games in the NBA over two separate seasons. It doesn’t appear that he’s linked to a Vegas roster yet, but he’s worth keeping tabs on after quite a week in Orlando.
Christian Wood was one of the players to leave the Orlando squad early, to join up with the Phoenix Suns’ Vegas squad. He’s mentioned here not just for his showing in his three games in Orlando (10 points and 4.3 rebounds on 48-percent shooting), but because he looks to be the exact sort of player Dallas needs. The 21-year-old forward is athletic, long and moves well across the floor. He’s appeared in 30 games in limited minutes over two seasons, with two NBA teams. It appears he just hasn’t found the right situation yet. If he continues strong play in Vegas, Wood will probably have some training camp invites. Maybe Dallas will get in line?
The former Illini guard had a big showing in Orlando as well, before leaving early to join Cleveland in Vegas. Paul put up 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 47 percent from the floor. He left a pretty big impression, going 6 of 10 from three in his final game with the Mavs. At 26 years old, Paul has played overseas mostly, having to leave a few opportunities with the former D-League due to injury. But if he can continue his hot shooting in Vegas, some teams may be willing to give him another chance.
As Dallas transitions to the Vegas Summer League, all eyes will be on the newly drafted Dennis Smith, Jr. playing for the Mavs for the first time, with a handful of other young players. But as summer play continues, it will be important to watch the development of these other prospects fighting for roster spots. Winning Orlando was a great start, and some of these guys will continue fighting for training camp invites in Vegas.
Continue to check in at Mavs Moneyball for further summer league coverage!