Reviewing Rashad Vaughn’s Summer League


I think I need to preface this (and every NBA Summer League) article by saying that determining much of anything from Summer League is usually difficult, because of how different the game is. Everybody on the floor is trying to impress GMs and scouts, so you see a super-high pace and a whole lot of shooting–the game is sloppy, fast and has a more street atmosphere to it.

I kind of enjoy that myself. It makes the games fun to watch as a fan, but difficult to watch as a writer. Regardless though, watching Rashad Vaughn play his first NBA minutes is worth documenting, especially considering how exciting watching Vaughn ended up being.

I’ll get to numbers in a minute, because those are important (even in Summer League), but there were some things you could just tell by watching Rashad Vaughn play, and most of them were very exciting and positive. The first is something that BTBP Editor-In-Chief Adam McGee pointed out in our most recent podcast: Vaughn’s basketball IQ.

Vaughn moves beautifully off the ball, and seems to always be alert and know what’s going on around him. Those things sound easy and obvious, but one of the easiest ways a very talented prospect can wash out of the association in a hurry is a simple lack of concentration and awareness. Vaughn doesn’t have to worry about either of those things–he stays in tune with the game most of the time.

That off-ball movement I mentioned earlier ties with another thing Vaughn does better than expected–his inside scoring. He was billed as a pure shooter coming into the draft, but he did a lot of his scoring inside over the course of Summer League. He had to, considering his shots just weren’t falling.

Finally, Vaughn’s defense was surprisingly block-heavy. It was fun watching the comparatively-tiny Vaughn tally two swats apiece in the Bucks’ last two Summer League games. He didn’t have too many steals, but over just a six game sample size I’m not too worried about that.

Now it’s time to get into these juicy statistics. We’ll start off with the negatives, because I always try to save the best for last. Although Vaughn was a capable three-point shooter at UNLV, coming in above 38 percent, he struggled to find his rhythm in his time back in Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League.

Vaughn only connected on 25 percent of his three-point opportunities, and just 36 percent of his field goals in general (down from 44 percent in college). So his efficiency was not great. Again though: we are talking about Summer League. It’s literally a completely different game than the NBA.

It’s also important to remember that Rashad Vaughn is still 18 years old. He doesn’t turn 19 for almost an entire month. Young rookies make mistakes. We all remember watching gangly rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo fly around the court with no regard for human or Greek Freak life in his first NBA season. Mistakes are part of the process.

Along with those poor shooting numbers, there’s a lot of reasons to be excited about Vaughn on his stat sheet. His rebounding was solid (3.2 per game), and although he wasn’t exactly dishing dimes left and right his 1.7 assists per game is respectable as well.

He also averaged a block per game, which is an impressive feat for a 6’6″ guard and something I hope becomes a staple of Vaughn’s game. Vaughn also proved he’s a more than capable free-throw shooter, averaging 81 percent from the charity stripe. But what most excited me about Rashad Vaughn in Las Vegas was his scoring.

Despite his frequent missing he still managed 17 points per game, meaning that he can find ways to score no matter what. That’s a pretty valuable skill, and one that made me so teary-eyed about the Bucks dealing point guard Brandon Knight.

Having a dependable scorer who can get you solid points night in and night out is so useful to an offense, especially one like the Bucks that so often floundered in the post-Knight era. Consider that after Knight’s departure the Bucks dipped from 99.2 to 95.4 points per game. Just under four points less per game. Sound insignificant?

For the entire 2014-15 NBA season, the Bucks scored 100.2 points in wins and 95.1 points in losses. Just under five points less per game. Those few points are the difference between victory and defeat, and having proven scorers like Vaughn (who averaged just under 18 points per game in college) and free agency signee Greg Monroe might just have a noticeable difference on the Bucks win/loss totals this upcoming season.

As far as a grade for Vaughn, I’ll go with a B. His shooting numbers need an increase, but I’m not too worried yet. He hasn’t had extended time with NBA level coaching yet, and with the bright head on his shoulders he should absorb Jason Kidd’s lessons like a sponge.

I’m thrilled about what the future holds for Rashad Vaughn, and I’m starting to realize why Milwaukee went with him at 17 overall despite quality options such as Kevon Looney and Bobby Portis still on the board.

Next: Jabari Parker's Top 10 Rookie Highlights

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