With last season coming to an end just two weeks ago due to the lockout, the NBA has already resumed activity with its NBA Summer League. The NBA Summer League, the first in two years due to the lockout, is a great opportunity for young players, rookies, and free agents to hone their skills, get acquainted with the NBA, and try to open up a few eyes in the stands. Several participants during the summer league are for former Kentucky Wildcats who are looking to accomplish the aforementioned goals.
Since men's basketball head coach John Calipari took over at UK, Kentucky has been churning out professionals like no other school in the country. With many young former Wildcats just entering the league, that means the NBA Summer League has and will continue to have a Big Blue presence.
Day one of the Orlando Pro Summer League kicked off Monday with three former Wildcats in action.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic's roster could see an incredible overhaul with the impending future of center Dwight Howard. But one current player, second-year guard DeAndre Liggins saw plenty of clock in his first Summer League appearance. It was a bit of a struggle for the former Wildcat, scoring just six points in 32:10 on the floor. He was 1 of 5 from the field, but hit 4 of 7 from the free throw line.
Liggins was never depended on to be a scorer at UK, rather he was looked to as a defensive stopper that was capable of doing the little things. To his credit, he helped in other ways in 92-88 win over the Brooklyn Nets with three rebounds, three assists and a steal. With a new coaching staff on the way and a roster in flux, the Summer League could be a prime opportunity for Liggins to display has ability and athleticism for next season.
Utah Jazz vs. Detroit Pistons
Two members of the 2011 Final Four team and NBA Draft Class squared off Tuesday in Orlando in Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter. Both enjoyed solid rookie campaigns in their first season in the NBA, and they were back in the Summer League to continue their development.
In their first action of the summer, Knight was the clear winner in their first live action since their seasons came to an end in the spring. Knight's Detroit Pistons won in a nail-biter that saw the Utah Jazz come back with a 28-19 fourth quarter to cut the deficit down to three, but the Pistons held on to pull out a 76-73 victory. Knight was rock-solid with 17 points and six assists. Despite a less than stellar shooting performance (4 of 11), Knight got to the line 14 times, scoring nine of his 17 for the game. His 17 points was just one point shy of the team high (18 - Kim English).
Kanter, on the other hand, struggled mightily and looked not like the player he showed flashes of during his rookie season. The third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was held to just three points in a poor shooting effort (1 of 7 from the field) and grabbing five rebounds.
Both Knight and Kanter were projected to be cornerstones for rebuilding franchises. To this point, Knight has been the better pick despite being selected five picks after Kanter as the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft to the Detroit Pistons.
Play continues for the Orlando Pro Summer League Tuesday with Liggins, Knight and Kanter all getting back to action immediately. Kanter's Utah Jazz kicks off Tuesday's slate against the Philadelphia 76ers at 11 a.m. Meanwhile, Liggins and Knight will square off in the afternoon when the Magic and Pistons get together for 3 p.m. tilt.
The Las Vegas league does not get underway until Friday with the other 24 teams competing in the dessert with teams competing from July 13-22. To catch all the NBA Summer League action, NBATV will show all 60 games as well as NBA.com offering Summer League broadband for 14.99.
We'll have notes and highlights from the summer league here on Cat Scratches for the next two weeks, so stay tuned.