Orlando Summer League has reached its conclusion for the Charlotte Hornets, and while they didn't take home the trophy err...T-Shirts...the Hornets still achieved their goals in this week of basketball. What were their goals? Well, the general purpose of Summer League is to get a look at some fringe NBA players, and get young draft picks involved in 5-on-5 basketball. The Hornets obviously didn't have any draft picks, but that didn't stop them from keeping their summer league roster as young as possible.
Outside of Aaron Harrison, the entire roster from top to bottom didn't feature any NBA experience. Everybody on the roster outside of Harrison were undrafted rookies, and players that had spent time in the D-League or Euope. Considering the Hornets have started a D-League team, and will need to fill out the roster for that team very soon, it's likely they used this summer league to scout out who will be on this year's D-League squad. They've also of course kept an eye on players to invite to training camp. When asked if any players stood out, or had a chance at getting a call for Training Camp, or the D-League, head coach Patrick Ewing didn't give too much information.
"We're not sure yet. We'll probably meet on that when we get, and probably figure it out."
That's to be expected. The Hornets weren't going to announce right away who they planned on bringing up, but a look at the play of certain players this week should give us an idea of who's most likely to be where. Here's a few names that stood out above the rest in this week's Orlando Summer League.
Last year's training camp invite, Harrison continued doing well at a lot of what he did at last year's summer league. However, a position and role change led to a lot of struggles for Harrison as he tried to adjust to his new role. His jumpshot still isn't there, and finding a way to successfully play off ball in such an isolation heavy style that is summer league is extremely difficult. Harrison will most likely find himself at the end of the Hornets bench again, but he'll still spend plenty of time in Greensboro with the Swarm. That's where he's going to get a real chance to try out his new role. Orlando Summer League was merely a test run.
York is going to be an interesting one come time to make training camp invites. He has a scorers mentality, and in a summer league setting that ability to put the ball in the basket shined through on multiple occasions. However, he didn't show much ability to be a team level player with a lot of what he did feeling like it helped him more than it helped the Hornets as a whole. In summer league that doesn't matter, because players that help themselves help the team, but at an NBA level a player like that can bring down a team as a whole. There's also problems with his size. Listed at 6'3 (I was standing next to him at one point and he certainly didn't look 6'3) 185 pounds he's a little small frame wise. He'll certainly bulk up with professional strength training, but early on he's going to have physical limitations that limit him on defense. He played well enough to get a training camp invite, but it's a lot more likely he'll be getting a call from Greensboro.
Now Thomas is an interesting one. Easily the most consistent player on the team, Thomas was drafted in 2013 by the San Antonio Spurs. He spent some time over in Europe and has played in the D-League before, but he hasn't managed to catch on to a team long enough to play in the NBA so he's still listed as a rookie. Thomas didn't shoot very well from 3-point range in summer league, but historically in his career he's known as a shooter. He skies high on rebounds, and showed some nice touch around the rim throughout Orlando. Thomas showed a lot of skills that could lead to a potential training camp invite. If not then a D-League spot feels almost guaranteed unless he decides to go back to Europe.
Paul was a little inconsistent at times, but he shined through in two areas that will certainly turn heads in his favor. He shot a lot of free throws, and half of his attempts were 3-pointers that he shot 39 percent on. Obviously these sample sizes are very small and should be taken with a grain of salt. Another guy that had spent time in Europe he's 25 so this might be one his last shots at making an NBA team. The D-League feels likely, but his hot shooting may have been enough to earn him a training camp invite.
Tobey is going to be in the D-League there's no question about it. He just wasn't consistent enough to gain a training camp invite, but what he did have were flashes of brilliant basketball. He showed some nice touch with his jumpshot, and when he got into positioning he was able to gobble up boards down low. The problem is he lacked the strength to push other guys around, and for long stretches of times would just completely disappear. His rim protection was spotty at best, and he didn't show very much promise as a defender. That said, those flashes were really something. He had moments where for four to five straight possessions he'd pull down an offensive board and put the Hornets right back into a game. He had a nice touch on his passing, and his feel for the game on offense is legit. A year in the D-League will do him some good, and then we'll check back in on him next year.
As for the rest of the roster. There were a few guys that had some moments like Ramon Galloway and Tim Quarterman that also might get a D-League invite, but it's hard to say. They just weren't consistent enough to standout and that's going to hurt them. Unfortunately, with Ewing not giving out any hints in post game and no announcements of anybody signing a contract the most we can do right now is wait for announcements.