Despite Dez Wells and Rasheed Sulaimon winning the Las Vegas Summer League tournament as members of the Chicago Bulls, the University of Maryland did not have a good showing in the NBA’s pre-training camp basketball showcase.
Fear not, because the future is still ripe for Maryland to potentially double their representation in today’s NBA. Currently, Steve Blake, Greivis Vasquez, and Alex Len are the only Terrapins in the game. Now let’s take a look at the likely future for the six former Terps that took part in Summer League:
Stone had a decent showing in the Orlando Summer League, which was enough to earn a two-year guaranteed contract valued at approximately $1.5 million. Unfortunately, that does not mean he will be getting consistent playing time in the NBA.
Blake Griffin, assuming trade rumors to Oklahoma City are not serious, and DeAndre Jordan are entrenched as the starters. One would think first round pick Brice Johnson and free agent acquisition Marreese Speights would be their primary backups, leaving Stone as the odd man out.
If Stone is indeed the fifth big and no one ahead of him is injured, the Clippers will likely opt to send the Wisconsin native to the D-League. This would allow the one-and-done player to not waste key development time on the bench, while still being a phone call away from playing at Staples Center.
Ironically enough, Layman, who has a lower ceiling compared to Stone due to age, signed a guaranteed deal before the 6’10 center, which was valued even higher at approximately $2.9 million. It was a good thing this transpired before Summer League play, because Layman was tentative and inefficient on offense.
Evan Turner will be the starting small forward for Portland, so Layman probably isn’t starting there. However, if Layman is able to beat out Luis Montero in training camp, he could be Turner’s primary backup. The four-year Terp is unlikely to see much time as a stretch-four because of Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis' presence, along with 2014 first round pick and fellow Massachusetts native Noah Vonleh.
Assuming no major injuries to Turner or others, Layman could see a consistent 15 minutes per game throughout the season. Bringing a defensive edge with his length and energy should be his main concern and how he helps Portland best this season.
Robert Carter Jr.
It turns out that Carter not getting drafted in second round, because of his unwillingness to play overseas, might really cost the Georgia Tech transfer. Carter stunk it up in Summer League, averaging 6.2 points on 21.9 percent shooting (7-of-32) and 2.4 rebounds in an average of 11.6 minutes of five games. To make matters worse, a self-proclaimed stretch-four missed all eleven of his 3-point attempts.
With the Warriors adding David West to play power forward and re-signing James Michael McAdoo, Carter would be wise to look elsewhere for a training camp offer, even though Golden State may not even offer one itself.
Although somewhat unlikely, Carter’s best chance for getting playing time in the NBA or just simply a roster spot would be getting a training camp offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers or San Antonio Spurs. The defending champs only have a 33-year-old Channing Frye backing up Kevin Love, while Gregg Popovich’s squad has no one playing second fiddle to LaMarcus Aldridge after Tim Duncan’s retirement.
More realistically, Carter will not get a 15-man roster offer and should put his NBA dreams on hold for at least a year. Spend a year in one of the good leagues overseas (i.e. Spanish), make a quarter of a million dollars, have fun exploring Europe and then come back next summer with a more mature game to make the NBA.
A year after losing a roster spot by breaking his thumb before Summer League, Wells started all seven games on the Bulls undefeated championship squad. However, Wells took a back seat to the likes of Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant, and Bobby Portis and only averaged 4.4 points per game.
With Chicago signing Paul Zipser last week, it is unlikely Wells could carve out a roster spot with the Bulls, but he is likely to still receive a training camp call because of his off-ball effort on defense. The former Xavier transfer has to weigh any offers from other teams and then decide whether he still wants to pursue the NBA through the D-League or spend time overseas, which he refused over a year ago.
As an undersized shooting guard with a still developing jump shot, it feels like a long shot to see Wells playing in the NBA this year. I would recommend the former Maryland standout to go overseas, where he could make at least 10 times as much money than another year in the D-League hoping for a mid-season call up.
A former five-star recruit before starting his college career at Duke, Sulaimon’s chances of playing in the NBA dwindled ever since. Sulaimon, like the many of his former teammates, struggled to score efficiently, which caused his playing time to falter.
In the same situation as Wells, and even more so, Sulaimon is currently not good enough to make an NBA team especially the Bulls’ who are already carrying three shooting guards. Sulaimon’s best attributes are his maturity and mentorship, but the latter does not help too much when he is no longer a college veteran.
Sulaimon could go down the same path as Wells last year or go straight to Europe and carve out a nice living for himself. Should he transform into a good enough NBA prospect, he will easily have the opportunity to come back over and play in the States.
Probably the most shocking Maryland participant in the NBA’s Summer League, pick-and-pop Michigan transfer was called in by the Toronto Raptors. The shock wore out quickly when the former Maryland forward only saw 12 minutes of action, both in double-digit victories, in which he scored four points.
Thus, a trip back overseas is probably in Smotrycz’s future. However, after averaging 16.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc in Cyprus, the 6-foot-9 forward could entertain offers to play in a better league.
Before the NBA draft, it seemed to be a lock that the number of Terrapins in the league would go up to around six, but that is no longer the case.
Unless Carter can find a fit soon, only Stone and Layman are likely to make their NBA debuts in the 2016-17 season. Carter and Wells still have shots to one day make it to the big leagues, while Sulaimon and Smotrycz are probably going to finish their playing days outside of the United States. There’s always hope for a better tomorrow, though.