You’ll notice a few familiar names, along with a slew of wild cards:
Eric Gordon (SG) — Clippers
Why he’ll be in Vegas: The Clippers’ 2008 first-round pick is the backbone of the Clippers’ youth movement. Gordon’s powerful two-pronged offensive attack consists of a deadly perimeter shoot and an uncanny ability to find the hole off the dribble. Though he’s relatively short at 6-3, Gordon is so strong that he was instructed at one point last season to stop lifting weights. Gordon was touted as a combo guard coming out of Indiana, but he didn’t demonstrate a professional handle during his rookie campaign. At Summer League, Gordon will look to improve his ballhandling skills and continue to familiarize himself with team defense.
Blake Griffin (PF) — Oklahoma/Clippers
Why he’ll be in Vegas: The top pick in last week’s draft, Griffin brings an incomparable combination of strength, athleticism, and coordination to the Clippers’ frontcourt. He’s an extraordinary rebounder and has a soft touch — so long as he’s around the basket. Summer League will be Griffin’s first opportunity to begin his transition to the pro game. He’ll look to extend his shooting range, run the pick-and-roll, and defend NBA-quality frontcourt talent, the likes of which he saw little of in Big 12 play.
DeAndre Jordan (C) — Clippers
Why he’ll be in Vegas: In the past 10 NBA seasons, only three players have recorded 10 dunks in a game — Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, and DeAndre Jordan. The latter, the Clippers’ 2008 second-round draft pick, is one of the league’s most intriguing young talents. His quickness, reach, and athleticism are the building blocks of NBA stardom. What Jordan lacks is a refined game: effective post moves, touch, patience, the awareness to pass out of trouble. In short, Jordan still needs to learn the stuff that’s most difficult to teach. Jordan has been working out regularly with Kim Hughes, and will continue his development in Vegas.
Mike Taylor (PG) — Clippers
Why he’ll be in Vegas: Anyone who witnessed Taylor go insane at Madison Sqauare Garden last March understands that in a league that increasingly value quick, small point guards, Taylor offers real value to the Clippers. Chosen in the second round of the 2008 Draft out of the D-League (by Portland, then immediately dealt to the Clippers), Taylor leapfrogged Jason Hart for backup point guard duties by late February and gave the Clippers a jolt of energy with his explosiveness. That said, Taylor needs a lot of work in a couple of different areas. His turnover rate of 15.2 ranked him 59th out of 64 eligible point guards, and his 47.7 true shooting percentage put him in some pretty miserable company.
Dionte Christmas (SG) – Temple
Why he’ll be in Vegas: Dubbed “The Player to Root for on Draft Day” by Henry Abbott a couple days before the draft, Christmas’ name wasn’t called last Thursday. Christmas is an unorthodox shooter with a quick release who led the A-10 in scoring for three consecutive seasons. Far from a freakish athlete, he spent most of his time beyond the arc (4 out of every 7 FGAs were 3PAs). Christmas is a heady player who, in classic Temple fashion, can body up on the perimeter. The Clippers need size, depth, and defense on the wing, which makes Christmas a sensible invitee. For more on Christmas, read E. James Beale’s superb profile in the Philadelphia City Paper, and check out his video profile on YouTube.
Sean Banks (SF) — Memphis/D-League
Why he’ll be in Vegas: Banks was a gifted player at Memphis and projected to be an eventual lottery pick, but a notorious knucklehead who was sent packing in January of his sophomore year after being declared academically ineligible. He also had issues with teammate Darius Washington while at Memphis. Banks lit it up in 2007-08 as a high-volume scorer for the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League. Banks also played a full season last year overseas in Turkey for Darussafaka, where he averaged 13 and 5 a game. (Hat tip: Jonathon Givony of DraftExpress)
Marcelus Kemp (SG) — Nevada/Livorno
Why he’ll be in Vegas: Since the Clippers had Nick Fazekas on their roster a couple years back, it’s only fair that they invite his Nevada running mate, Marcelus Kemp, to Summer League. Kemp was a big, aggressive guard at Nevada who could barrel his way into the lane, and also step back and hit from beyond the arc. Was a 24-year-old senior during his final season at Nevada. He played for Livorno last season, in Italy’s second division, where he scored in bunches.
Kyle McAlarney (PG) — Notre Dame
Why he’ll be in Vegas: If you compacted Steve Novak into a 6-foot point guard, he’d be Kyle McAlarney. The sharpshooter from Notre Dame has one of the best shooting forms in all of basketball, and he’s not afraid to show it off. Spotting up, coming off screens, or barely stepping over half court, McAlarney is truly one of those guys who is open as soon as he steps in the gym. McAlarney appears to be somewhat one dimensional, however like Novak, he’s ridiculously good at that one dimension. McAlarney is a breathing endorsement for the old adage that says, “if you can shoot, you can play”.
Kevinn Pinkney (C) — Nevada/Cantu
Why he’ll be in Vegas: Pinkney is already somewhat of a journeyman, having played in France, Italy, the D-League, and briefly for the Celtics in 06-07. Pinkney played his college ball at Nevada, where he teamed up with fellow invitee Marcelus Kemp and former Clipper Nick Fazekas. According to scouts, Pinkney has continued to develop his post skills and now boasts an impressive arsenal of moves and great face up ability. Pinkney has dropped some weight since his college days, helping him vastly improve his footwork and transform into a more finesse type player.
Nik Caner-Medley (SF) — Maryland/Cajasol
Why he’ll be in Vegas: Caner-Medley is the quintessential small forward in that he does everything well, but no one thing exceptionally. After enjoying 4 productive seasons in the ACC with Maryland, the lefty forward has further polished his game overseas. Caner-Medley is a good athlete who possesses a 35-inch vertical and a solid frame. A classic tweener, Caner-Medley is a good enough offensive threat to get the better half of most mismatches.