Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014 Orlando Summer League Review

The 2014 Orlando Summer League came to an end with the Championship Day that took place on Friday, although it got massively overshadowed by free agency happenings.  The Pistons wrapped up their time in the Amway Center practice facility with a 96-87 loss to the host Orlando Magic.  The loss gave the Pistons a 3-2 record for the week, and a 6th place finish among the 10 teams in attendance.  Things were more positive than their sub-par finish though, as they learned quite a bit about the young players on the roster, and learned some things about potential camp invites for the fall.

FINAL STANDINGS

1st Place: Philadelphia 76ers; 2nd: Memphis Grizzlies; 3rd: Indiana Pacers; 
4th: Boston Celtics; 5th: Orlando Magic; 6th: Detroit Pistons; 
7th: Oklahoma City Thunder; 8th: Miami Heat; 9th: Houston Rockets; 10th: Brooklyn Nets

AWARDS AND HONORS

All-OSL First Team: G: Casper Ware (PHI); G: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (DET); 
G: Donald Sloan (IND); F: Kelly Olynyk (BOS); F/C: Mason Plumlee (BKN)

All-OSL Second Team: G: Nick Johnson (HOU); G: Jeremy Lamb (OKC); 
G: Victor Oladipo (ORL) F: James Ennis (MIA); F/C: Nerlens Noel (PHI)

MVP: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (DET): KCP came out swinging, scoring 26 points or more in each of the Pistons first four games.  He was electric to watch, scoring in a variety of ways and showing improved ball-handling, strength and shooting form.  The brutal schedule of a game and a practice nearly every day, combined with his high usage in games appeared to wear on him by the end of the week. However, he still managed to lead the league in scoring and finished 6th in rebounding.  A week of 24.0 PPG (a  full 5.0 PPG higher than the 2nd place finisher) and 7.4 RPG is certainly enough for MVP honors.  Casper Ware was KCP's best competition, finishing the week with 19.0 PPG and 5.2 APG.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE PISTONS GOING FORWARD

Aside from what the Pistons learned about KCP during the Orlando Summer League, there were a few other things of note that happened this week which could alter what Detroit does going forward.  With LeBron signing in Cleveland and Paul George only getting better in Indiana as well as the continuing presence of Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins in the division, perimeter defense is going to be a major determinant in Detroit's success.  

One option to upgrade the Pistons' perimeter defense can be found on this year's OSL roster: DeAndre Liggins.  Liggins is a player that is familiar with Stan Van Gundy from his time in Orlando, and he played very well for the Pistons at his old stomping grounds last week.  In today's league "Three-and-D" is a buzz-term that is used to describe an awful lot of perimeter players.  However, how many of these guys are truly adequate shooters AND lockdown defenders?  I would be willing to argue that there aren't many; but Liggins has the skillset to be one.  Liggins is a career 35.4% three-point shooter in the D-League, a number which took a bit of a hit this year as he was asked to take an awful lot of long jumpers for Sioux Falls (3PAr over 50%).  In the previous season with Tulsa, Liggins made 46% of his threes (29-63).  He's certainly capable of knocking down open shots.

Liggins' defense speaks for itself, as he uses his 6'6, 215 pound frame to bully opposing offensive players, making them uncomfortable with his aggressive style of play.  Combine that with a nearly 7' wingspan and we're looking at the prototype for a wing defender in today's NBA.  On top of all that, his D-League career has shown that he's not exactly prone to foul trouble for a guy who plays as aggressive as he does.  While this all sounds great, Liggins does come with a few red flags.  He's had his troubles off the court and is only about a year removed from an extremely ugly domestic abuse incident.  Carrying somebody with his past on the roster comes with a share of risks.  While what he did certainly isn't something I (or anybody, really) condone, guys with a past similar to his have been allowed another chance.  Liggins is currently playing for the LA Clippers in the Las Vegas Summer League, so any negotiations with him will likely come after that action wraps up on the 21st. 

Peyton Siva's future is uncertain going forward as well; his contract won't become guaranteed unless he's on the roster past July 20th, according to Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.  Siva played well before suffering a hamstring injury, which can only cloud the outlook for him in the coming week.  With the glut of PGs on the Pistons roster, and the talk of SVG wanting bigger bodies at the position, Siva's status is not that of a lock.  However, he's established himself as a very hard worker, and has shown that he can hang with NBA players.  Whether or not that's enough to keep him around for the coming season is hard to say.  If I had to guess, I would say that Siva won't be back.  Just a gut feeling.

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