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NBA Summer League 2015: Top Takeaways from Thursday

Published by Bleacher Report on Fri, 10 Jul 2015

Six days deep into the NBA's summer-league slate, one thing is becoming unmistakably clear: Even in July, weeks after its season has officially ended, the Association still has juice.The Orlando and Utah sectors of summer-league play raged on through Thursday, with first-round studs and roster hopefuls once again waging hardwood combat.Some of the league's top prospects succeeded in giving the Utah festivities a proper send-off. Two fringe prospects and one Mitch McGary stole the show in Orlando. Four quarters wasn't enough for two teams settle on an outcome.Indeed, it was an eventful Thursdayone worthy of an impromptu recap.Joe Young Is Having FunThe Indiana Pacers didn't select Joe Young with the 43rd overall pick in this year's draft solely because team president Larry Bird used to hoop it up with his father, Michael.They brought him in because he can score. And on Thursday, man, did he do just that.Working off a 25-point, five-assist explosion on Wednesday, Young pumped in another 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting in the Pacers' 91-85 victory over the Orlando Magic's "Blue" crew. He added three rebounds and three assists as well, while committing only one turnover.Summer-league success doesn't always translate into regular-season playing time, and this is especially true for second-round picks. But the Pacers, as the Roy Hibbert salary dump proves, are looking to get faster and space the floor.Young, all 6'2" and 180 pounds of him, is emerging as someone who can help move that process along. He has drilled eight of his last 12 three-point attempts, and his regular 20-plus-point performances as a senior at Oregon speak for themselves.Plus, you know, Bird admits he has a soft spot for the 23-year-old, per Vigilant Sports' Scott Agness:OK, fine. So maybe Bird's hooping it up with Young's dad back in the day has a little something to do with his being in Indiana.Keith Appling Stays Head-Scratchingly GoodKeith Appling has our attention.Were it not for a nasty right hand injury, an NBA team would assuredly have taken the Michigan State product in the 2014 draft. Alas, his stock plummeted, and he's still searching for his gateway into an actual NBA game.A chance in Orlando, for the Magic's "White" contingent, has at least put that portal within reach.Appling continued attacking and scoring in a 65-58 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. He totaled 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting and a 8-of-12 showing at the foul line, yet again displaying the incisive aggression that has him outplaying many of Orlando's other guards, including the Blue squad's Peyton Siva.At 6'1", though, Applingfinds himself overmatched on the defensive end, chasing steals to make up for the size difference.But while he forces turnovers in volume (six), he also commits a ton of fouls, the direct offshoot of his serial ball-gazing and steal-chasing. He finished the day with seven personal infractions and allowed Brooklyn's Ryan Boatright to reach the charity stripe at will.Still, the kid is a flamethrower and didn't start coughing up the rock until Thursday (five turnovers). As Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports opines, there should be room for him somewhere:As for whether Appling sticks in the league, that's a different story. He's impressed at times in Orlando, but his offensive accolades and defensive warts have a Josh Selby feel to them right now.Ergo, he needs to prove he's more than just a one-week wonder.Mitch 'Who Needs Enes Kanter' McGary Balls HardThe Portland Trail Blazers tendered restricted free agent Enes Kanter an offer sheet Thursday worth $70 million over the next four years, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge. The Oklahoma City Thunder now have 72 hours to match.This is relevant only because sophomore Mitch McGary is playing like he wants the Thunder to let Kanter take a hike.McGary turned in another energetic performance during Oklahoma City's 87-81 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, four steals and two blocks.Sure, that stat line came complete with six fouls and eight turnovers. But that's more because McGary doesn't yet know how to contain himself. He was everywhere on the floor, trying to do everything.He looks lighter, runs faster and has clearly been working on shootingnot to be confused with makingmore jumpers, as theOklahoman's Anthony Slater observed even before Thursday's McGary spectacular:Although he needs to add some polish in the post and discontinue the hands-y defensive sets, McGary is well on his way to becoming a rotation-worthy player. He passes well for a power forward, and his still-developing outside touch is an offensive goldmine waiting to be tapped.That's more than we can say for the offensively limited Kanter. He doesn't move the ball, looks uncomfortable and uncoordinated outside 10 feet of the basket and cannot play above the rim.Oh, and he won't ever do this:Now, I'm not going to come right out and say the Thunder would be better off bringing McGary along as opposed to sinking $70 million into Kanter. But it is implied.Beantown's Backcourt Logjam Is Kind of AwesomeLooking ahead, it's clear the Boston Celtics will have to make some tough calls while sorting through their backcourt logjam. But for right now, months before the 2015-16 season tips off, the prospect of an all-guard-everything rotation doesn't seem like a problem at all.R.J. Hunter, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart combined for 56 points in the Celtics' 85-71 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. All three looked really good and, at times, had to have Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner and James Young questioning their future in Boston.Especially Young, who laid yet another egg, scoring just one point and missing all four of his field-goal attempts.Boston's (summertime) Big Three had no such issues. Hunter left his two previous scoreless outings behind him, going for 18 points and drilling each of his four three-point attempts, finally giving us all a reason to get hand-gesture-under-the-table excited, per ESPN.com's Kevin Pelton:Rozier had what was easily his best game of the week. He tallied 16 points and seven assists and looked completely comfortable when piloting the Celtics offense.The outside marksmanship that eluded him previously found its way back as well. He shot 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and didn't hesitate to pull up off the dribblemuch to Smart's delight, according Bleacher Report's Brian Robb:Speaking of Smart he was...just splendid.Fueled by a 15-point second quarter, he finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting. He also added four boards, seven dimes, three steals and one oh-my-god-did-that-just-happen transition block:Basically, Smart is playing like someone who doesn't belong in the summer league.No, seriously, he's unstoppable at the moment, dominating every facet of the game. Draft Express' Mike Schmitz provides a snapshot of the end-to-end havoc he's wreaking:It's only summer league. But by the looks of it, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has some impossible decisions to make as he tries to thin out his backcourt corps.Well that, or he could just trot out five-guard lineups for his convenience and, most importantly, our amusement.Summertime OvertimeFour 10-minute quarters weren't enough for the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz. They needed a two-minute overtime to get their fill of basketball before the Jazz walked away with an 84-78 victory.Jordan McRae led the way for Philly with 19 points, but he didn't get much help. Though Jahlil Okafor scored in double figures for the third straight game, the 19-year-old showed his ageor lack thereof.Jack Cooley smothered Okafor on the defensive end, and the Sixers rookie just didn't have an answer. He shot 5-of-10 from the floor, but he committed six turnovers and often milked the shot clock dry as he tried to find nonexistent looks inside the post.For all his polish down low, Okafor needs to get better at adjusting to NBA defenses, as SI.com's Jake Fischer pointed out:Okafor wasn't alone in his shortcomings, though. The Sixers' ball movement was offas in nonexistent. They had just eight assists on 27 made baskets and relied far too much on Okafor to carry the playmaking burden; he handed out three of their eight dimes.On the bright side, Furkan Aldemirsnared 15 boards, making it clear he won't be abdicating his throne anytime soon:In the end, it was Utah's Bryce Cotton who seized the spotlight. He ended the night with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals and absolutely took control in overtime.It was an effort worthy of regular-season playing time. So, naturally, Cotton was ampedshouting-well-intentioned-expletives-at-the-crowd pumped, per the Salt Lake Tribune's Tony Jones:Remember, kids: Mimic the game, not the diction.Rudy Gobert Has Bigger Hands Than YouBonus takeaway!Rudy Gobertwho, to be clear, isn't partaking in the summer-league shindigdropped by press row to shoot the breeze and show off the monstrous mitts he calls hands.From Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey:All right, that settles it: Gobert and Odell Beckham Jr. need to have a high-fiving contest, like, right now.Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.comandNBA.comunless otherwise cited.DanFavalecovers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter:@danfavale.
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