|Posted by Brian Dickmann on July 10, 2015 at 1:30 PM|
Former Green Bay stars Alec Brown and Keifer Sykes will look to take the next step in their quests to make an NBA roster this fall, beginning this weekend when the NBA Las Vegas Summer League tips off.
Brown, the 50th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in last year’s NBA Draft, appeared in five Summer League games last season, averaging 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes of play before he aggravated a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery.
He ended up playing just two months last season for the Bakersfield Jam, the Suns’ NBA D-League affiliate. In 17 games, he scored 6.8 points per game to go along with 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.0 assists in 18.5 minutes per game. Brown also connected on 34.1% of his three point attempts, a trait which will be valuable at the NBA level.
"The thing with Alec is his game experience last year really helped him develop patience and confidence," Nate Bjokgren, the former Jam head coach and current Suns assistant recently told the Arizona Republic. "You talk about a guy that can shoot it. Alec Brown is a very good pick-and-pop big. He's going to cause fits for the other teams we're playing and he knows how to play."
The unfortunate news for Brown is that the Suns acquired former Wisconsin Badger forward Jon Leuer in a draft night trade last month. Both players are considered stretch forwards that are capable of stepping out and hitting an outside shot.
However, a good Summer League showing could earn Brown a Suns training camp invite and possibly even a spot on their 15-man roster.
The 7’0” big man finished his career as Green Bay’s all-time leading shot blocker (309) and fifth on the all-time scoring list with 1,796 career points.
"I really just want to show them that I am ready to play at the next level," Brown told the Republic. "I want to show them that I can rebound the ball because that is always a big question for me. I want to show them that I have gotten stronger this year and that I play more physical and I am more confident with my shot."
As for Keifer Sykes, who just finished a stellar career for the Phoenix, he went undrafted in this year’s NBA Draft despite having pre-draft workouts with over half of the teams in the league.
The 5’11 Sykes finished his Green Bay career with 2,096 points, 2nd in school history behind only Tony Bennett. He averaged 16.5 points, 4.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game in his four years as a starter. He was named Horizon League Player of the Year in each of his final two seasons.
Almost immediately following the draft he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the reigning NBA Eastern Conference Champions.
"They liked me, I knew I had a good workout there," Sykes recently told Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "They were familiar with my game because we played Youngstown, we played Cleveland State, we played Wright State. All those teams are in Ohio.”
As the Cavaliers continue to load up on max level contracts for the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Tristian Thompson, Cleveland will be looking for talented young, relatively in-expensive players to help fill out their roster. Venci notes in the Press-Gazette that Sykes’ contract is partially guaranteed, meaning Sykes has as good a shot as any to make the Cavs roster out of training camp this October.
"No matter what happened on draft day, I was going to be a professional," Sykes told the newspaper. "To be a professional on a team with a player like LeBron, where they have a chance to go to the Finals, it was better than being picked.”
Both the Suns and Cavs will play at least five games this summer in Las Vegas; 3 regular games plus a minimum of two “playoff” games. Click here for more.
Friday, July 10
9:30 p.m.: Golden State vs. Cleveland
Saturday, July 11
5 p.m.: Washington vs. Phoenix
9 p.m.: Brooklyn vs. Cleveland
Sunday, July 12
3:30 p.m.: Phoenix vs. Houston
Monday, July 13
3 p.m.: Cleveland vs. Milwaukee
Tuesday, July 14
6:30 p.m.: Phoenix vs. Utah