LAS VEGAS -- NBA Summer League is full of bad basketball but, amidst all of the ugly, there are some players that have shown to be a cut above the rest of the pack. In some cases it was expected -- second-year pros showing improvement and top picks playing as such -- but not everyone starring through Sunday had the resumes that suggested they'd do as they've done.
The majority of rosters aren't conducive to that, either, considering most NBA teams are hoping to give players already under contract a chance to shine as they find out what they can do. The following players have been pretty impressive, though, as they look for a spot in training camps.
- Chris Copeland has an interesting look and an interesting game for an otherwise undersized power forward. The Belgium League MVP has made a name for himself in Vegas, though, as the Knicks announced on Wednesday morning that he's already earned a camp invite after just two games in the Cox Pavilion.
- Josh Akognon is averaging an even 20 points per contest through the first two games of Summer League for the Sacramento Kings. The diminutive guard is known for putting up big numbers in China, but he decided only recently to take a shot at the NBA after ending this past season in the NBA Development League. It'd be pretty crazy to see two sub-6-footers share the backcourt in Sacramento, but there's no doubt Akognon is improving his earning potential for next season ... somewhere.
- The Atlanta Hawks drafted Keith Benson last season but had to cut the second-round pick in training camp after he was outperformed by Ivan Johnson. He's looking to get back to the NBA through the D-League as Johnson did, though, and has performed admirably in all three games for Atlanta in Vegas.
- Denzel Bowles came out of nowhere on Sunday night to play a big role for the New Orleans Hornets' Summer League squad. The second-year player out of Texas A&M played this past season in the Philippines and Lithuania -- neither of which are basketball hotbeds -- and then scored a solid 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as he tried to make fans forget about Anthony Davis not being in attendance (mission: not accomplished).
- The D-League Select team (made up of players who have played in the D-League over the past few seasons and have not been invited to play for an NBA team's summer league squad) put together an excellent showing on Sunday night against the Washington Wizards. One of their top players in that performance was Andre Emmett, an undersized guard that knows how to score in bunches with the top players in the world. Unfortunately, due to his size, he's likely going to have to show those talents around the world -- and not in the NBA.
- Matt Janning has only played one game in Vegas thus far, for the Memphis Grizzlies, but he looked pretty solid in that game after not getting much burn with the Indiana Pacers in the Orlando Summer League. He's not the flashiest player, but the guard knows how to play basketball and has proven he won't hurt his team -- two things that can't be said for quite a few players in the NBA already.
There are over 40 games left to be played in Vegas, so many more hot shots are likely to emerge, but the above players are the early noise-makers.