Saturday, July 12, 2008

NBA summer league update

Derrick Byars capped a solid, yet unspectacular week at the Orlando Pro Summer League with an 11-point, 6-rebound effort in almost 32 minutes as the Magic defeated Michael Beasley's Miami Heat 74-69 on Friday.

In five games, the Vanderbilt alum averaged 8.4 points (behind only first-round pick Courtney Lee and center Marcin Gortat), 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists in nearly 26 minutes per game. Byars' shooting stroke abandoned him, as he shot 38 percent (16-for-42) from the field, including 4-for-18 from 3-point range, and made just six of 12 foul shots.

However, the fact that he played the third-most minutes and that Orlando assistant coach Patrick Ewing had him on the floor during crunch time, means there is a chance Byars sticks with the Magic. Teams don't look strictly at numbers during these summer leagues, which could bode well for DeeBee.

There is no question that Byars possesses a number of characteristics that make him an attractive 11th or 12th man. He's got a high basketball IQ, plays with great intensity every night, can score in a number of ways, is an above-average defender willing to take charges and he's unselfish, sometimes to a fault. Of course, he has his weaknesses and does not have as much upside as many of the younger players.

But, teams know what they're getting with Byars, and hopefully he showed enough this week to warrant consideration. We're certainly pulling for him.

In other summer league news, Byars' former teammate Shan Foster scored seven points off the bench in Dallas' 86-69 loss to the Clippers on Friday.

Foster was 2-for-5 from the field, including 1-for-4 from 3-point range, and 2-for-2 from the foul line. He added two rebounds and two assists without committing a turnover in a little over 15 minutes. Not a bad effort considering the opening-game jitters he must have played with.

The Mavs return to action Sunday night (9 p.m. CT) against the Timberwolves and you can check out the full schedule here.

Here's a look at how some former Southeastern Conference players are faring early on:

Jamont Gordon (Mississippi State): After the junior went undrafted, Gordon signed with Philadelphia and is averaging 11.5 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1 steal through two games. Teams were skeptical of Gordon because they couldn't tell whether he'd have a position (is he a point guard or shooting guard?), but the bottom line is that Gordon can play and he's proving that now.

Anthony Randolph (LSU): After one year in Baton Rouge, Randolph went off in his pro debut with Golden State, scoring 30 points and grabbing eight rebounds. (It's worth noting that Nashville native Brandon Wright added 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Warriors, which have quite the athletic front court).

Marresse Speights (Florida): Looks like Speights made the right move to jump to the NBA as he's averaging 18 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks in two games for Philadelphia. He's got an NBA-ready body and should be able to contribute immediately for the new-look Sixers.

Sonny Weems (Arkansas): The former Razorback scored 17 points and grabbed three rebounds in 21 minutes for the Nuggets.

Charles Rhodes (Mississippi State): Gordon's college teammate had 10 points and six rebounds for Dallas.

Joe Crawford (Kentucky): The former Wildcat had nine points and two rebounds but committed four turnovers in his debut with the Lakers.

And isn't that a cool photo? [Vanderbilt]

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