LAS VEGAS — Just because it’s Summer League, don’t think for a second The Manimal is taking it easy.
Kenneth Faried, who became a vital piece to the Nuggets in his rookie season, had 16 points and 15 rebounds to lead Denver to an 85-81 win over the Knicks on Tuesday afternoon.
“It doesn’t matter (that it’s Summer League),” Faried said. “It’s going to show guys that even the best player on the team can go out and still get down and dirty.”
And Faried definitely got down and dirty. Faried had five blocks and two steals in his 35 minutes of action, diving for loose balls, slapping the floor after a tumble and keeping balls alive with his hard work on the boards.
LAS VEGAS — If it’s not one Rockets rookie, it’s another.
Houston has a plethora of first-year players trying to break trough in Las Vegas.
So far, they’re all making their cases well.
Three Rockets are among the top 13 rookies in scoring through four days of action, which must make management happy as they try to take the franchise into a new era which potentially includes the addition of Dwight Howard. With the young players excelling, the pieces must look more and more enticing to Orlando, if Houston does decide to go that route.
No. 12 pick Jeremy Lamb is proving to be an even better scorer and slasher than advertised — and holds a top spot in the most recent Rookie Ladder — with a 20.3 point averaged on 51 percent shooting.
No. 18 pick Terrence Jones out of Kentucky has been a beast, averaging 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Houston’s Draft night pickup from 2011, Donatas Motiejunas, is proving to be quite the asset as well. Motiejunas has been up and down in the three games, but is averaging 15 points and 6.3 rebounds.
No. 16 pick Royce White, known for his versatility, nearly notched a triple-double in Monday’s victory over the Kings. White scored 11 points to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists in his best game of the summer.
White says it’s a quick learning process as he tries to adjust to the new level.
“It’s a different pace, a different length,” White said. “But it’s still based on the same principles, the same fundamentals. The coaches are just telling us to play hard and have fun. Sometimes I get too caught up with wanting to do well and the team doing well and we just need to have fun.”
When they’re playing like this, there’s plenty of fun to go around.
It’s been a nice summer (can’t beat 11 days in Vegas!), but I’m ready for the rookies to finally start playing some meaningful games.
My first T-Mobile Rookie Rankings won’t come out until next week (Monday I’ll break down my preseason Top 10), but you know Blake Griffin and John Wall will be early favorites. (I’ll also be updating the Rookie Ladder on an almost daily basis throughout the season, so be sure to bookmark that page.)
I’m also curious to hear your predictions for the upcoming season. Who do you think will be Rookie of the Year? Which rookie is being overlooked? Which rookies aren’t worth the hype?
In our annual survey of the rookies, Wall (38.5 percent) was picked by his peers to take home ROY honors over Griffin (23.1 percent), with DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Johnson getting votes.
To get you ready for next week, check out these preseason highlight reels from Wall and Griffin. It’s gonna be a fun season.
From the look of things, Griffin’s showing no ill effects from last season’s knee injury:
LAS VEGAS – Even though he’s a rookie, Toronto’s Ed Davis wants to make one thing clear.
“I’m older than DeMar (DeRozan), first of all,” Davis said when asked how the “older” Raptors are helping him adjust to life in the NBA.
Davis has three Summer League games under his belt, with possibly his best coming Wednesday. Davis had 13 points and five rebounds, going 5-for-6 from the floor. Davis was active on the inside, something the Raptors want to see from the forward out of North Carolina.
“We need to turn up the fire a little bit with him,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said. “That’s the way he is. Right now, he’s got a good glide to him right now. It’s got to become more intense for longer periods of time.”
Davis said he plans to lean on the more experienced Raptors, but won’t back down from any rookie hazing that might be coming his way.
“I’ve got a lot of pranks under my belt,” Davis said with a smile. “I’m experienced in a couple things like that.”