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UCLA Basketball Dominates NBA Summer League

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Three former Bruins make the NBA's All Summer League Team, led by Kyle Anderson MVP

Norman Powell and Kyle Anderson are turning heads in the NBA Summer League
Norman Powell and Kyle Anderson are turning heads in the NBA Summer League
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Anderson was named NBA Summer league MVP and Norman Powell was named first team.  Actually, second team contained Larry Drew II.  In a sense the UCLA MVP of the last three years in basketball (NP4 14-15, Kyle Anderson 13-14, and Larry Drew II 12-13) were all dominate summer league players.

While dominating the summer league is sort of like dominating AAA baseball, it is still a great step for the players and nice for the proram.

In my opinion the circumstances for all three players could not be more different.

Pounding the Rock the excellent San Antonio Spurs SBNation site had a great article that sums up Kyle.  The whole article is worth a read.  The article points out that Kyle is NBA ready, on offense.  He is a libabilty on defense though, possibly a big one.  The article concludes by saying:

There are no players similar to Anderson around so it's hard to predict how his career will go. What's certain is the Spurs' front office did a good job selecting him. Even if he fizzles out as a prospect, passing on someone with such an intriguing skill set would have been unwise. Low draft picks are a place to take chances and Anderson is a gamble that could still pay off hugely. All that's left to do now is wait and hope he can improve on his weaknesses enough to become the latest Spurs' steal.

In the NBA Summer League, Kyle showed that offensive potential in a way that might be a bit surprising to Bruin fans:

The 30th pick a year ago, a guy who spent time in the D-League and got in just 33 games in his rookie season, was named the NBA Las Vegas Summer League MVP on Sunday by a vote of the media.

Anderson has averaged 22 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in leading The Spurs to a 5-1 record and the Summer League Championship Game (played Monday at 9 .m. Eastern against the Suns).

"He's put in a ton of work..." Spurs coach Becky Hammon said, naming a series of other Spurs shooting and training staff he had spent time with. "Over the summer I've seen him in the gym a lot. He knows our system the best. He knows those conversations coaches have had with him and what's expected of him and he's absolutely stepped up."

What was expected of him was to step up and be a leader on this Summer League team.

While Kyle is unique as a point guard in a power forward's body, his career is not surprising from the NBA perspective.  He can play on offense with his length and court smarts, is he athletic enough on defense is the question.

Norman Powell, on the other hand, is definitely athletic enough.  My recent fanpost showed that.  Like Kyle, Norman has the kind of attitude you want from a teammate. If nothing else, I think Powell has shown he belongs in the league because he would be a good practice player.  Oh here is another fun Norman highlight:

The issue with Norman is he is always an afterthought.  From Howland trying to make the ultra-athletic Norman into a jump shooter off the bench to Norman being seen wrongly as a second fiddle to Bryce by the media and, at the start of the season, Steve Alford, NP4 has never received the respect he deserves.  The irony is if he stays healthy, he could potentially have the longest pro career of any Alford coached Bruin.

While Kyle and NP4 earned the respect and love of Bruins fans, Larry Drew II has largely been forgotten.  Which is ironic since he is the only one of the three in the all-time UCLA record book.  Larry set the single season assist record at UCLA.  There have been some amazing point guards over the year (and point bigs in Kyle Anderson and Bill Walton).  Yet Larry's record is a ho-hum to most fans.  He is doing it again in the summer league:

Drew closed out Sunday leading the summer league with a 7.8 assists average. He averaged 9.6 points per game.

I guess the old timers will say "I remember when UCLA players were dominating the NBA first team."  Actually we aren't doing too shabby there either in recent years with guys like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love (though his last season was tough for him).  However, with kids like these three, UCLA will remain a "NBA factory" as UCLA is STILL the place for young kids to go if they want to play in the NBA.

You look at these three and keep in mind how different they are.  Kyle was a national wunderkind from New Jersey.  Larry Drew II was a transfer.  NP4 was a local kid.  UCLA can attract the best in a wide variety of circumstances.

Go Bruins.