Thursday's early action in the Orlando Summer League included a record-setting day by Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond, which helped set the expectations even higher on the same day the team signed veteran Chauncey Billups. In the prior game, Utah Jazz rookie Trey Burke continued to struggle.
Next to Drummond's performance, it brought to light the jump pro players make between their first two seasons.
Pistons hold off Heat, 78-77
If Detroit wants to make a marked leap in the NBA totem pole next season, Andre Drummond is expected to be a big part of that. So while how he plays against summer league competition should be taken with a grain of salt, dominating that competition is far from a bad sign.
Posting an Orlando Summer League record with 18 rebounds, Drummond led the Pistons with 23 points while adding two steals and two blocks as Detroit slipped past the Miami Heat, 78-77, on Thursday.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who the Pistons took with the eighth pick in the 2013 draft, added 15 points and three steals. Though he only went 3-for-7 from the floor, the good news for the new-look Pistons was the rookie's relentless attacking. He scored eight points at the foul stripe, and for the most part displayed the same game that he developed at Georgia. There, Caldwell-Pope more than doubled his free throw attempts from 2.5 per game to 5.3 between his freshman and sophomore seasons.
And for every good performance he has, Caldwell-Pope further legitimizes his jump up the draft boards from the day of his decision to go pro until draft night.
For Miami, former Belmont Bruins scoring guard Ian Clark continued to surprise. He led the Heat with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Clark, among others, could perhaps threaten former Texas point guard Myck Kabongo's chances to make Miami's regular-season roster -- and it has more to do with the Heat's position-less style of basketball.
Kabongo's minutes have been sparse since leaving the Longhorns after a penalty-shortened sophomore season, and on Thursday he played just over 11 minutes, putting in a rebound and a turnover in the box score.
The Heat's 50th overall pick, James Ennis out of Long Beach State, added 10 points and three rebounds.
Pacers stifle Burke in win
Former Michigan Wolverines guard Trey Burke looked on the verge of immortality last year until the Louisville Cardinals defeated his team in the NCAA championship game. Since, the rookie point guard for the Utah Jazz has been reminding people that he's still 20 years old.
Burke again struggled with a 3-for-15 shooting performance in a 79-73 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday. The ugly outing brought his shooting totals to 9-for-42 in the first week of his professional career. Burke did contribute four assists, four rebounds and only turned it over once in 26 minutes.
There's obviously still work to do, perhaps mostly with his jump shot. Burke missed all five three-point attempts on Thursday.
Fellow rookie Rudy Gobert performed well in 24 minutes. He scored 11 points, hit all three of his attempts and added eight boards and three blocks despite playing on a bum foot.
Former Bradley guard Chris Roberts led Utah with 18.
Indiana was led by Justin Harper, who has spent time with the Orlando Magic and the D-League's Idaho Stampede. He scored 13 points and got help from 2013 first-round draft pick Solomon Hill. Scoring all 12 of his points from behind the three-point line, Hill only improved upon his week of accurate long-range shooting. He has played within himself for the most part throughout and has done a bit to help any backlash in Indiana about the team selecting the Arizona product 23rd overall.
The Pacers' 2012 first-round pick, Miles Plumlee, had more trouble. In 20 minutes, he grabbed seven rebounds and scored six points before leaving with an ankle sprain. Meanwhile, relatively experienced NBA players Orlando Johnson and recent Indiana free agent signee Donald Sloan combined for 18 points and eight assists.