LAS VEGAS -- Last week's NBA Summer League in lovely Las Vegas hosted quite a few well-known players with NBA roster spots already pretty locked up for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, there were many more players playing in Sin City just hoping to show NBA general managers that they deserve a no-frills fully-unguaranteed training camp invite this fall.
I was on the scene throughout the entire 10-day affair, too, as I attempted to unearth some of the more unlikely stories happening in Sin City. And, even though nobody ever expected to see Adam Morrison earn MVP chants ever again, the most random standout from the second weekend of Summer League was the emergence of former Portland Pilots power forward Luke Sikma.
Sikma, the son of seven-time NBA All-Star (and Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach) Jack Sikma, scored just two points over the course of the Minnesota Timberwolves first three games. For those watching on media row, though, it looked like he might have been the hardest working player on the court during the 34 minutes of Summer League action he received in those three games -- as long as we weren't getting him mixed up with second-round pick Robbie Hummel, anyway.
The Timberwolves coaching staff apparently took notice of this, too, as Sikma averaged 18 minutes, eight points and seven rebounds in the final two games of the Wolves' Summer League experience. It doesn't sound like a whole heck of a lot, of course, but it was pretty impressive considering he wasn't even supposed to be on Minnesota's Summer League team.
"I actually had started out in camp with the Atlanta Hawks and got cut by them," Sikma told Ridiculous Upside after his final game in Vegas, "so I was lucky I even got a late invite to Minnesota. Nothing was for sure, obviously, so I just came in and worked hard every day and let the chips fall as they may."
Regardless of whether it was the late addition or the fact that Sikma played in second-division Spain last season, it was clear he came from some where off the beaten path -- a fact easy to see considering the league spelled his name last name "Sigma" on his player profile -- but through hard work, determination and a little luck, he was able to made a solid impression as Summer League came to a close.
"I was just lucky to get the opportunity to come in here. I didn't know whether I was going to play or not because we had so many guys, but I was just staying ready because you never know when your opportunity's going to come up," Sikma said. "And, when I got minutes, I just tried to take advantage of i them and do what I do -- crash the boards, bring the energy and be solid defensively -- and it worked out for me."
The elder Sikma seemed to think it worked out well for his son, too, as he kept close tabs on his son throughout the week.
"He loves to play; he's still growing as a player, but he understands the game really well," Jack Sikma told Timberwolves.com. "Part of it is he continues to get more comfortable and confident in situations where the skill level is elevated. Every time you try to move up a little bit, to just go at it and get yourself comfortable there. I think this has been a good experience for him."
Sikma understands that his surprising performance likely wasn't enough to earn himself an NBA roster spot, however, as he plans to spend a second season overseas.
"I've had some discussions, but it's probably going to be a situation where I'll go back overseas this year," Sikma said. "I liked being overseas last year and I don't really know if the D-League's the place for me."
That was a disappointing answer for me because he might've tore up the D-League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, but at least it was fun watching him while it lasted.