D-League alums to watch at the Utah Summer League

Nov 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UNLV Runnin
Nov 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UNLV Runnin /

After a seven year hiatus, the Utah Summer League is back!

Although there are only four teams playing in this one, there are still some D-League names to watch out for. The player everyone was looking forward to seeing was Pierre Jackson, but Philly has announced that he will not participate until the team reaches Las Vegas. Boo hiss!

The good news is that it sounds like Jackson has recovered from his Achilles injury and we will get to see him play in Vegas. Until then, however, here’s who you should keep an eye on in Utah.

C.J. Fair – SF – 6-8 – Boston Celtics

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

After going undrafted in 2014, Fair attended Summer League with the Dallas Mavericks and parlayed that into a training camp deal with the Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately, he was waived after camp and ultimately allocated to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League.

Fair started slow, but really came on late showing rapid improvement on both ends of the floor during his time in Fort Wayne. He played in every single game — regular season and playoffs — for the Mad Ants and averaged 13.9 points and 5.7 rebounds on 48 percent from the floor, earning him All-Rookie 2nd Team honors.

In the playoffs, Fair paired with Jordan Crawford to carry Fort Wayne all the way to the D-League Finals before being ousted by the Santa Cruz Warriors. In six playoff games, he averaged 22.2 points and 7.7 rebounds on 50 percent shooting.

Fair is a slasher and mid-range type of guy who excels on the defensive end due to his versatility. He can effectively guard positions 2-4 and even held his own when switched onto point guards. He improved his post game as the season went on, too — there were many times when the team would run sets to get Fair down on the block, especially if matched up against a smaller opponent.

Omari Johnson – SF – 6-9 – Boston Celtics

Johnson has worked tremendously hard to get himself to this point. After going undrafted in 2011, he played two seasons in the Canadian NBL before playing turning that into a deal in the Spanish ACB. Last season, he played with the Maine Red Claws after being selected in the 3rd round of the D-League draft.

Johnson was one of the top reserves in the league last year, posting 15.6 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point land. He finished the season with 138 made 3-pointers, good enough for 3rd most in the league (behind only Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins), and did so only starting 12 games.

The NBA loves bigs with size who can stretch the floor, and Johnson has certainly proven he can provide that value. This is the first time he has taken part in NBA Summer League and I’m betting on him taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Roscoe Smith – PF – 6-8 – San Antonio Spurs

Nov 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UNLV Runnin
Nov 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UNLV Runnin /

Smith went undrafted in 2014 and ended up spending training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers before being waived and allocated to the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League. He had a wildly successful season on the offensive end of the floor, averaging 18.1 points and 11 rebounds per contest. He shot 53 percent from the floor and showed the ability to step out and knock down 15-18 footers with regularity.

Those numbers earned Smith All-Rookie 3rd Team honors and a spot in the NBADL All-Star Game as a replacement player. He had a private workout with the Lakers early in the season, but was not signed to a contract.

Smith projects as a pick-and-pop type of power forward due to his mid-range efficiency. He also has the ability to put the ball on the floor in the half court, which keeps defenders honest, and his jab step works well when backing off defenders, giving him just enough space to unload his potent mid-range shot.

While his offensive numbers are great, Smith’s defense left little to be desired. To be fair, the D-Fenders weren’t great as a team defensively, but that doesn’t mean individuals can lax. At 6-8, his lack of height could be a small hindrance, but it’s really his mass that could slow him down. He’s listed at only 205 pounds, so banging down low isn’t his forte.

Smith is not slated to play with the Spurs in Las Vegas. Depending on how he performs in Utah, we could see him latch on with another squad for more exposure.