July 19, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Coby Karl (5) grabs a rebound during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
A look at the top free agents who played at 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS -- There were plenty of known players that stood out at the NBA Summer League -- both as far as this year's rookie class is concerned as well as the NBA veterans -- but that was sort of to be expected. The fun stuff happens when the random players nobody expects to make an impression stand out.
That happened quite a bit this past week, too. Moreso in the case of Adam Morrison, of course, but he wasn't the only player to crawl out of the woodwork and put on an impressive performance.
Best Free Agents
Looking at Wanamaker's D-League statistics, it's tough to think he'd have a shot in the NBA ... the kid continued to improve throughout college, though, and showed promise during his run with the Toros ... he's never going to wow anyone with his skills on the court, but has the ability to be a solid role player with his decision-making, versatility and low-risk mentality while in the game ... if he develops a three-point shot, however, there's a chance he can stick for awhile.
For once, I feel pretty smart about that assessment. After being the de facto third-string point guard for the Austin Toros this past season (behind Justin Dentmon and Squeaky Johnson), Wanamaker looked pretty good down in Vegas despite rather humble averages of 6.8 points and 4.2 assists in 18 minutes of action. (Honorable Mention: Scott Machado, Brian Roberts, Josh Akognon, Talor Battle, Aaron Miles)
Shooting Guard: Coby Karl, Minnesota Timberwolves -- The son of George has always been a very good player, but he simply doesn't do any one thing impressively enough to have earned himself a full-time NBA roster spot. That still hasn't really changed -- Karl is still simply a very solid player -- but it certainly didn't hurt his cause that he shot 64.7 percent from behind the three-point line in Vegas en route to averages of 8.3 points and 3.8 assists ... and one outstanding 6-of-7 effort from beyond the arc against the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Honorable Mention: Matt Janning, Derwin Kitchen)
Small Forward: Adam Morrison, Los Angeles Clippers -- Morrison has been written about quite a few times already so we'll keep this brief: the former third overall pick averaged 20 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and earning a few random MVP chants from the crowd. In Summer League. (Honorable Mention: Kent Bazemore, Dionte Christmas)
Power Forward: Malcolm Thomas, Chicago Bulls -- Hate to reference the offline writing of yours truly twice in the same column, but here's my pre-Summer League scouting report on Thomas following his standout season in the NBA D-League:
Thomas has a lot of untapped potential, making him a solid option to stash on a team's roster while he learns the tricks of the trade ... ideally he'll add about 15 pounds and get comfortable shooting jumpers, but as is, he's a good energy player that will hustle and rebound for cheap.
That allowed me a second chance to brag, too, as Thomas ended up leading the Summer League in rebounds with 12.4 per game while collecting the garbage buckets (4.6 offensive rebounds per outing) on his way to 11.4 points and a solid double-double average. (Honorable Mention: Tyler Wilkerson, Marcus Dove, Mitchell Watt, Chris Copeland, Deon Thompson, Shavlik Randolph, Eric Dawson)
Center: Keith Benson, Atlanta Hawks -- Kito Benson was lethargic throughout his rookie season in the D-League after not being able to make good as a second round pick by the Atlanta Hawks last season due to the Ivan Johnson experience. Benson looked much better in Vegas, though, as he was aggressive en route to 13.2 points and six rebounds per contest. If he'd have played the way in the D-League like he did in Vegas, he wouldn't have had to worry about entering Summer League as a free agent hopeful. (Honorable Mention: Robert Sacre, Artsiom Parakhouski)
The majority of the players listed above will likely earn training camp invites if they like or, considering the amount of foreign scouts in attendance, at least earn very good salaries somewhere in Europe or Asia next season.