The NBA Summer League tipped off in Orlando, Florida, and one name immediately became the reference point for all the drafted players who were having a feel of their first-ever professional tournament: Edrice ‘Bam’ Adebayo. You can argue that he heard the call of the hustle and responded, or make the point that the former Kentucky center was comfortable in the state that will be his home for the next three years, at least. Whatever you chose to name it, Adebayo flew out of the blocks in Florida.
He opened with a 14-point and 10-rebound game against Charlotte on Day 1, and followed that up with another 14-point, nine-rebound game against hosts the Orlando Magic on Day 2. Both were in losing efforts, but the hustle of Adebayo, who was active on both ends of the floor but was majorly a defensive monster (he also added two blocked shots each night), was never in doubt. Those two days turned out to be rehearsals for Bam.
He turned in a monstrous 29-point, 11-rebound game, shooting 13-of-17 free-throws on Day 3 as Miami again fell to Indiana Pacers, before he was given the day off as the Heat lost to the Detroit Pistons. On the final day of the Orlando Summer League a different Bam surfaced; the Heat center struggled as he made only 1-of-10 shots, but his aggressive drives drew fouls, and he was 11-of-14 from the charity stripe, ending up with 13 points.
He went on to confirm that his Orlando performance was no fluke, as he averaged 15.7 ppg and 8.7 rpg in three games at the bigger Las Vegas Summer League which tipped off just a few days later.
Another African player that made a statement during the summer is Pascal Siakam. The second-year Toronto Raptors forward opened his Summer League action with a 24-point game in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans. He added 17 points against Minnesota Timberwolves and poured in another 14 points and seven rebounds against Denver Nuggets, before ending his summer with a tame two points in the loss against Portland. But the Cameroonian had done enough to show the growth he has experienced in his first year in the League.
While Adebayo was the African star to emerge out of Orlando, Cheick Diallo was the African standout from the desert of Las Vegas. Like Siakam, Diallo is a second-year NBA player, and played 17 games off the bench for the New Orleans Pelicans last season. It was no surprise, therefore, when he almost averaged double-doubles in the five games he played in the desert. Diallo ended with 18.6 ppg and 9.8 rpg while playing 30.2 minutes per night in Vegas, with his biggest haul coming in the 27-point, 10-rebound effort against Siakam’s Raptors.
Ike Diogu and Daniel Ochefu, both Nigerian/Americans, turned out for Washington Wizards and both had mixed outings. The veteran Diogu, who was drafted with the No 9 pick in the first round by Golden State Warriors in the 2005 Draft, had turned out for six NBA teams but played last season in China. In two games, Diogu averaged 11.5 ppg and added 5 rpg while playing 17.5 minutes per game. His biggest effort was the 15 points and five rebounds in 10 minutes against Miami.
Ochefu, an undrafted NCAA Champion with Villanova last season, played four games for the Wizards averaging 22.25 minutes per night. Although his overall statistics were not spectacular, he averaged 8.5 ppg and 6.75 rpg but scored 13 and added 10 rebounds in the loss to Memphis Grizzlies, and chipped in another 10-rebound effort against Chicago Bulls