Last week Duke basketball alumni, including Kyle Singler and John Scheyer, took to the courts in Orlando to showcase their wares in the Orlando Summer League. The rest of the young former Blue Devils just finished their exhibition schedule in Las Vegas.
Nolan Smith took the court for the Portland Trailblazer’s team, and didn’t disappoint in his two games before suffering a scary head injury that luckily turned out to be nothing more than a concussion. Smith still hasn’t recovered fully from the incident. In two games, Smith averaged 18.5 points per game on 58.3% shooting, including 40% from beyond the three point arc, and 100% from the free throw line. Smith added 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as well. With only career backup Ronnie Price to challenge Smith for backup minutes behind Weber St. rookie Damian Lillard at the point, the Duke product should have an easy road to quality bench minutes.
The next Blue Devil is a name from deep in the past. Shavlik Randolph, who averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in three years at Duke, ending in 2005, is trying to break back into the NBA. The power forward last played in the NBA back in the 2009-2010 season, where he played three games each for the Miami Heat and Portland Trailblazers. He spent the last few years in Puerto Rico and China. Back stateside, Randolph suited up for the Washington Wizard’s Summer League team, where he started all four games he played in. While Randolph struggled in his first two games, he came on very strong in his last two. In those final two games, Randolph averaged 13.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. He is currently unsigned, but may have made enough noise to get an invite to training camp with an NBA team.
The final two Blue Devils who took the court in Las Vegas were this year’s 10th overall pick Austin Rivers, and a former NCAA Champion and undrafted free agent Lance Thomas. Despite his pedigree, it was Rivers who struggled mightily while Thomas turned heads with his performance. Rivers played in just two games with the New Orleans Hornet’s team before sitting with a sore leg. Rivers scored 10.0 points per game and added 2.0 steals, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game. However, he shot just 21.1% from the field and averaged 3.0 turnovers and 5.5 fouls per game. Rivers is trying to learn the point guard position, so he can play in the back court with Hornets’ star Eric Gordon. He’ll play a very large role with New Orleans this season, despite his Summer League woes.
Lance Thomas was very successful in his five starts with the Hornets’ team, leading his team in both points (14.0) and rebounds (7.2). While his contract situation for the 2012-13 season is still up in the air, Thomas is widely expected to return to the Hornets. After playing well with the US Select team, who scrimmaged against the Olympic team, and then leading the Summer League team, Thomas will fight for minutes with Jason Smith behind first overall pick Anthony Davis and reigning Most Improved Player of the Year Ryan Anderson.