Most of the Golden State Warriors' summer league squad touched down in Las Vegas on July 8. Comprised of three rookies, a couple of second-year players and a host of unsigned journeymen, everyone on the roster has something to prove. Unfortunately, it's pretty hard to prove anything in the NBA Summer League.
Because as the saying goes, "What happens in Vegas...doesn't count for squat." Or something like that.
Exhibit A in the case against the relevance of Summer League play is one Anthony Randolph.
Drafted by the Warriors with the 14th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Randolph oozed potential from the get-go. He showed flashes of brilliance in limited minutes during his rookie year in Golden State, finishing with averages of 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Randolph showed a surprisingly complete game for a player so young—he played all of the 2008-2009 season at just 19 years old.
He could handle the ball at 6'10", ran the floor well and occasionally dominated for short stretches by outworking everyone on the glass. So Randolph looked promising, but heading into the 2009 Vegas Summer League, he had to prove he was ready to take the next step.
Randolph did much more than that.
In one of the most dominant summer league performances in history, Randolph took a giant leap.
He averaged nearly 27 points, 8.5 rebounds and three blocked shots per game on 60.9 percent shooting. He set a then-record of 42 points in a summer league game against the Chicago Bulls. His tenacious play and blossoming skills had every Warriors fan drooling at the thought of a terrific sophomore season.
But it wasn't to be.
Randolph's numbers improved slightly between his rookie year and his second season. His PER went from 16.94 to 18.71, but immaturity and inconsistent effort on defense prevented him from earning a substantial increase in playing time.
To make a long Randolph story short, Don Nelson never liked him (another instance in Nellie's career of serial ruination of promising young players), and he's now played for three NBA teams in four seasons due to poor defense and a high turnover rate. His brilliant summer league performance feels like it happened a hundred years ago.
So while the Warriors have a number of young players who could shine this summer, let's make sure we don't read too much into their performances.
Because sometimes, it's better to just forget what happens in Vegas.
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