NBA Summer League roundup: Vonleh breaking out in Vegas

  • 07/17/2015 10:00 am in

Four former IU players – Christian Watford, D.J. White, Noah Vonleh and Will Sheehey – are participating in the various NBA summer leagues with varying roles and different degrees of success.

The standout of the group is Vonleh, a 2014 lottery pick who was traded from Charlotte to Portland last month. Here’s a look at how each of the former Hoosiers has fared this summer:

· Vonleh, Portland (17.2 points, 8.5 rebounds in 29 minutes per game): The summer league in Vegas is the perfect learning ground for Vonleh, a player with immense talent but still in need of plenty of seasoning.

Through four games, Vonleh, who is reportedly between 255 and 260 pounds, appears to be moving in the right direction. As Grantland’s Danny Chau pointed out on Wednesday, Vonleh’s 20 points on Tuesday against San Antonio were more than he ever put up in a game at Indiana.

He hit the 20-point mark again on Thursday and did it against the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, Karl-Anthony Towns. Vonleh also had 10 rebounds and a blocked shot. That performance drew praise from the Blazers summer league coach, Nate Tibbetts.

“Noah is really active. He really battled him,” Blazers summer league coach Nate Tibbetts said. “This is what summer league is for: to go against a good player like that who’s going to be great player in our league. I think he stepped up and challenged him.”

For his part, Vonleh is keeping things in perspective and realizes that carrying over things from the summer to the regular season won’t be an easy feat.

“I’m getting more comfortable against most of these opposing (power forwards) because I know most of them can’t stay in front of me,” he told OregonLive.com. “But it’s going to be different in the NBA. The game is changing and most of these guys are quicker and, kind of like me, they like to get to the basket, do different things. So I got to keep working on that.”

· Watford, Indiana (4.8 points, 3.8 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game): Watford spent last season in the Development League after playing in Israel as a rookie.

While he may have a chance at getting a training camp invite again like he did last year with Boston, the realistic view is weighing another season in the D-League versus trying to go overseas to maximize his earnings potential.

He played in four of five games for the Pacers in Orlando with his best effort coming in the finale, a 98-74 loss to the Orlando Magic blue team in which he had seven points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals in 25 minutes.

Watford is scheduled to play for Armored Athlete in The Basketball Tournament this weekend in Chicago along with Sheehey and Jordan Hulls.

· White, Cleveland (8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game): White has appeared in three of Cleveland’s four games thus far in Vegas with one start.

He had 13 points and five rebounds over 22 minutes in a 94-87 win over Milwaukee on Monday. Like Watford, he’s probably looking to earn a training camp invite and if that doesn’t work out, he’ll likely be headed back overseas.

White played for Laboral Kutxa Vitoria of the ACB League (Spain) and the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association last season.

· Sheehey, New Orleans (7.0 points, 1.5 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game): Sheehey’s stint in Vegas appears to have been cut short due to a hamstring injury.

He started both games he appeared in for the Pelicans, but has not played since Monday.

Pelicans Summer League coach Darren Erman called the loss of Sheehey a blow to the roster due to his “rugged defense on the ball,” according to Pelicans.com.

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  • SilentBob

    Vonleh has looked like his lottery pick status the last few games. Still makes some silly decisions, especially when double teams come, but a world of potential there. I really enjoyed watching him play heads up against Karl Townes in the fourth. After Townes dominated the first 3 quarters being guarded by Moultrie they switch Vonleh on to him in the fourth and he pretty much shut Towns down. Denied two entry passes, stripped him on a post up, and forced an air ball. Vonleh didn’t have a single rebound in the first half and finished with ten.

  • marcusgresham

    With Aldridge gone from Portland there are minutes to be had if Noah can prove himself. At the very least he was lucky enough to get out of Charlotte.
    As for the other guys, there are worse ways to spend your 20s & 30s than playing basketball in the likes of Spain if they can’t catch on with an NBA team.

  • SilentBob

    A lot of people are already acting like Vonleh is a bust but the truth is he is still a teenager until next month! He was originally a part of Okafors and Co’s class. Sure not the most natural of post players yet, but that’s a dying breed in the NBA anyway and he was a PG his freshmen year of high school. He never got a chance in Charlotte as a result of his early injury and the team trying to push for the playoffs. His skill set was minimized as rebounding will always be his bread and butter and few coaches value rebounding at every position more than Clifford.

    The best thing about Vonleh is he seems to get better now as the game goes on. Not only does he get more comfortable, but when those other bigs start to tire he kicks his high octane motor into second gear. Bottom line is he is a A+ rebound with an elite physical profile, and a good jumper for a big in an NBA that values that more than ever. When he starts getting the defensive and offensive terminology down and learning to play by it, I have a hard time betting against him having a long NBA career

  • Caleb Moore

    Not sure vonleh will ever be an all-star but he’s so young and the talent is there to see him become a solid starting 4 in the nba for 12+ years barring injuries. Hoping that wat gets a chance with Cleveland as they need cheap pieces that can space and shoot. Sheehey is tough but not sure he has the necessary athleticism to stick in the nba even as a backup 3. Still can make some nice money overseas though.

  • hoosier93

    Great to see. He’s going to have a great opportunity in Portland. Abs I like the young talent on that team with him, Lillard, McCollum, Aminu, Harkless, Plumlee, Ed Davis and Meyers Leonard. Idk if Vonleh can be an All-Star… but he has the potential in him. Zach Randolph was able to become an All-Star. Vonleh plays a bit like him but with more athleticism.

  • AUKevin

    Noah still puts the ball on the floor a lot when he is close to the basket. And it seems like he gets blocked an awful lot

  • jayrig5

    Fun fact: Vonleh is only 3 months older than Towns. He’s still 19!

  • KelvinSampson87

    I couldn’t be less interested in Vonleh. He had one mediocre season with an unmemorable Hoosiers team and left before he was ready. While I wish him the best I can’t say im really pulling for him one way or another.

  • Chappy Dan

    Well, considering you’ve taken the most hated figure in IU basketball history as your name and avatar, I can’t see anyone being less interested in your opinion.