Finally, the insatiable thirst for basketball will be momentarily quenched by the tease of Orlando Summer League. In this year's edition, 10 teams (including two Magic squads) will take part in the event, which will run from July 4-10, with each team playing 4 matches before seeded finals.
The Pistons released their roster for the event yesterday.
This is an interesting group assembled by Bob Beyer (who will coach the team with Stan Van Gundy an interested spectator), and there's only one member of the roster who was present at last year's edition (Justin Harper). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has graduated from the Summer League circuit, Spencer Dinwiddie was still recovering from his ACL injury/rehab, Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva have since been traded/cut (Siva will feature for the Magic, but Blue, not White). and Johnson and Hilliard were still in college (in Stanley's case fresh out of high school).
I've highlighted Quincy Miller in the table, not because he's in doubt (which he is due to a possible fractured orbital bone), but because of his transformation. Everywhere you look on the Internet (Wikipedia, NBA.com), it will list Quincy as 210, his weight coming into the league. Well, the Pistons and Miller himself weren't lying about him building his body, as he's now listed at a sturdy 234 pounds, an increase of, wait for it, 24 pounds (applause for you if you got the maths right). Barring his nose injury, Miller looks set to start at power forward and bang with bigger bodies than he would've been able to at his previous rail-like frame. However, he is under an injury cloud with a broken nose, but he wants to play with a mask, something which requires medical clearance.
Headed to see a doc now, @qmillertime hoping for clearance to be able to play Summer League opener tomorrow— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) July 3, 2015
Quincy Miller has been ruled out for four to six weeks due to a fractured nose and orbital bone as well as corneal abrasion reports Keith Langlois. The forward will miss the entirety of the summer league tournament.
The big star for the Pistons which fans will be clamoring to see is obviously No. 8 pick Stanley Johnson, who describes his legs as "terrible" after intense two-a-day practices. He likely won't have a blockbuster matchup in this first game, but wait for the meeting with Justise Winslow for hopefully some fireworks. This is also a chance for many fans to see Darrun Hilliard for the first time, the out-of-the-blue No. 38 pick will start at SG and look to impress SVG and friends this week.
Besides the Pistons from last year (Dinwiddie and Miller), there is very little NBA experience on this roster. Stanley and Darrun are obviously rookies, and the only other players to have appeared in an NBA game are Gaines, Wear, Thomas and Harper. Wear played 2 games for the Sacramento Kings at the end of the season on a 10-day contract, Thomas played 6 games in 2013-14 (4 with Orlando, 2 with Philadelphia [including one start...#trusttheprocess]), Harper played 14 games for the Magic in 2011-12 after being the 32nd pick in the '11 Draft by the Cavaliers, and Gaines, the oldest player on the roster at 29, has played in 113 NBA games between 2009-12 (67 for New Jersey, 32 for Utah, 8 for Minnesota and 6 for Toronto).
The roster features four players from the Grand Rapids Drive (Thomas, Atkins, Holsey and Barlow) and four rookies out of college (Johnson, Hilliard, Gray and Washburn). David Wear is also out of the D-League with the Reno Bighorns, and would have played parts of last season with Quincy Miller in "Little Las Vegas."
Also there to support the team will be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson (who is also meeting Van Gundy today...). Ersan Ilyasova is in Orlando as he had a workout earlier in the week but it's unsure if he'll attend the games. Andre Drummond, like last year, wanted to attend, but was recommended by staff to stay in Los Angeles where he is currently training.
The Magic, as we all know by now, have fielded two teams in this competition for a while and are doing it again this season, with Orlando White and Orlando Blue. They have grouped all their roster guys and rookies/draft picks onto one roster (Blue), and their free agent invitees on the other roster (White). The Pistons will unfortunately not meet the Blue squad unless it's in a finals matchup, which is a shame because not only would it have been a chance to see Super Mario for the first time in person (over a screen), but also to say high to Peyton Siva, who is on the Blue squad.
As it stands, the White squad has little in the way of NBA experience. The squad features two native Detroiters, Keith Appling from Pershing HS and Michigan State, and Keith Benson from Detroit Country Day School and Oakland University. The roster also features NBA experience in the forms of Chris Singleton and Glen Rice Jr.
Two players I do want to highlight are Jahii Carson and Scottie Wilbekin, two diminutive guards who both played professionaly in Australia in 2014-15 after going undrafted in 2014. Carson spent his stint in Australia with the Wollongong (now Illawarra) Hawks, along with fellow import guard Gary Ervin. Carson was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible season for the Hawks, as they slumped to last in the league with a 6-22 record, missing out on the playoffs. Carson averaged 14.5 points but only 2.4 assists whilst shooting 43% from the field and 29% from three. Wilbekin had a far better season both individually and from a team perspective. He steered the Cairns Taipans to a 21-7 record to top the end-of-season ladder, making it all the way to the grand final series before being swept by the New Zealand Breakers. He wasn't terribly efficient from the field, shooting 39%, and 28% from three, but he averaged over 15 points and 4 assists, whilst also being among the league leaders in minutes, playing over 1000 for the season (there's only 28 reg. season games).
Where: Amway Center practice arena
When: July 4, 2014, 11AM ET
Watch: NBA TV
Enjoy your first look at the newest Pistons and feel free to chat about the game below.