Former Wichita State center Paul Miller played for the Knicks in the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league twice – 2006 (after his MVC MVP turn with the Shockers) and 2008. Joe Ragland, Toure Murry and Garrett Stutz are preparing for their summer opportunity in the big time later this month. Miller’s advice is not to forget how important practice can be.
Stutz, a 7-foot center, will play for the Nets in Orlando and Minnesota in Las Vegas. In Vegas, Murry, a 6-5 guard, will play for the Lakers and Ragland, a 6-foot guard, will play for Golden State.
For our undrafted Shockers, they may stand in line for playing time behind drafted players or players with some NBA experience. In 2006, Miller benefited when an injury to Channing Frye opened time for him. So the impressions made in practice can be important. In practice, players will often work with NBA head coaches and with front-office personnel watching. During games, NBA assistants do the coaching.
“There’s a chance for them to show those coaches their worth in skills and attributes they have in a practice setting,” Miller said. “They can show the coaches how coachable they are, how hard they work, different skills they don’t get to show off in games.”
Of course, minutes are the best prize. NBA people will be watching. So will scouts from international teams. Miller, who played in Turkey last season and will soon start looking for his next gig, said exposure from the NBA summer leagues helped him find better situations overseas.
“They’re going to have a chance to go up against guys who have played an NBA season,” Miller said. “It’s a good opportunity for any of those guys to be on that stage. That’s the main thing – just trying to be on the floor.”
I’ve looked at the four NBA rosters involved, and it’s tough to know where the Shockers might fit. It will be tough for them to make a roster, but the trio is in the game and that is a good spot to be in July.
The Nets, especially depending on how their desire to trade for Dwight Howard plays out, may need big men. Stutz, for his height and offensive skills, will no doubt get the longest look of the three. I find it interesting that Jack Sikma is an assistant with Minnesota. Sikma made a living in the NBA with his jump-shot, a skill that Stutz could emulate. I don’t find it impossible that Murry will convince a team he can be a Bruce Bowen-type defender who can guard two or three positions and make threes. Murry’s versatility and ball-handling could be helpful. Ragland’s height will work against him. Can he show teams he can score against bigger, better athletes and defend in the NBA? Ragland is coming off one of the best offensive seasons in Shocker history, so his scoring efficiency may impress a team needing point-guard depth.
Schedules for the three Shockers in summer leagues:
Nets (Orlando) – July 9 vs. Orlando (10 a.m); July 10 vs. Boston (4 p.m.); July 11 vs. Philadelphia (2 p.m.); July 12 vs. OKC (noon); July 13 vs. Indiana (1 p.m.)
Timberwolves (Las Vegas) – July 16 vs. Clippers (9 p.m.); vs. Charlotte (9:30 p.m.); July 19 vs. Cleveland (7 p.m.); July 21 vs. D-League (7 p.m.); July 22 vs. Memphis (7 p.m.)
Lakers (Las Vegas) – July 13 vs. Golden State (7 p.m.); July 16 vs. Miami (7:30 p.m.); July 17 vs. San Antonio (5:30 p.m.); July 19 vs. Clippers (7:30 p.m.)
Warriors (Las Vegas) – July 13 vs. Lakers (7 p.m.); July 14 vs. Denver (5 p.m.); July 18 vs. Miami (9:30 p.m.); July 20 vs. Chicago (7:30 p.m.); July 21 vs. New Orleans (5:30 p.m.)