LAS VEGAS – The Dallas Mavericks finished their Summer League journey with a record of 3-2, but Summer League isn't about wins and losses despite the tournament-style setup.
It is instead a proving ground for draft picks, young players, veterans, and those trying to make their way onto an NBA roster.
Dallas sent 12 players to Las Vegas to prove their mettle and a few stood out.
As mentioned in the Summer League primer, the Mavs squad featured Gal Mekel and Ricky Ledo, who are currently under contract with the team. Dallas also sent Bernard James to Vegas.
James, who is a free agent, played for the Mavs the last two seasons and was looking to earn a spot on the roster once more. Thursday, though, Dallas renounced their rights to James in a cap room move.
Ivan Johnson also traveled to Vegas. He last played in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks in the 2012-13 season.
These were the players who were expected to stand out for the Mavericks, and they did. Mekel, the starting point guard, averaged 11.5 points on 53.1 percent shooting, 4.3 rebounds, and three assists in 28.3 minutes in his four games.
Ledo, who played in each contest, averaged 15.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists.
Ledo spent much of last season with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks' D-League affiliate in Frisco. He was a second round draft pick in 2013 and is still very much a work in progress. His numbers in Summer League look good on the surface. However, he shot only 32.4 percent from the field.
His shot selection leaves a lot to be desired. Often, Ledo would settle for 3-pointers instead of trying to get to the rim. He did shoot 37 percent on threes in his five games, but those aren't the shots he needs to be taking.
Poor shooting aside, Ledo did display rather adept court vision. In Dallas' final game on Friday, he dished out nine of the team's 15 assists. If Ledo can continue to facilitate his teammates, he should be able to find himself in the locker room at the AAC, rather than one up 75, more often.
James, before he was let go, had a great stint in Vegas. As the starting center he averaged 13.5 points on 62.5 percent shooting. His 7.8 rebounds per game led the team. His future with the team remains uncertain.
Johnson's time in Las Vegas can be described as spotty. He displayed moves indicative of someone who played in the NBA before but he couldn't string together any consistency. He averaged 7.8 points per game but shot just 33.3 percent. Coming into Summer League, Johnson was working on improving his range. It wasn't apparent, though, as he connected on only 19 percent of his 3-point attempts. Johnson's most memorable play, sadly, is when he was ejected from the fourth game for swearing at a referee after being knocked to the floor.
It's unlikely that Johnson has played his last minutes in the NBA. There are always teams that need a physical presence. Dallas just won't be Johnson's next stop in the pros.
Aside from these four players, there were only two others who really stood out.
Eric Griffin made a name for himself last year when he was on the Miami Heat's Summer League team. Griffin is a high-flier who relies on his athleticism to make plays happen. With Dallas, he certainly had his share of highlight reel dunks and blocks. He averaged 11.4 points on 53.7 percent shooting, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks. Griffin was arguably Dallas' best player. His play earned him an un-guaranteed contract and training camp invite with the Mavericks.
While Griffin's highlight potential kept crowds focused on the court, he game is far from complete. As a 6-foot-8 forward, Griffin doesn't have the range of an NBA level small forward. He took few attempts from behind the arc and connected just 23.1 percent of them.
If Griffin is hoping to make the jump into the NBA, this should be his major area of focus. However, with the Mavs inviting him to training camp this fall, it would be safe to assume that they stick him in Frisco so he can work on his game.
The biggest surprise of Summer League was one of the smallest players. Yuki Togashi, a 5-foot-7 point guard, was one of the most popular players of the week. He exited his enthusiastic fan base with crossovers, drives to the rim, and outside shooting. He shot 46.7 percent and averaged 5.3 points.
Togashi proved that he is more than a novelty and it wouldn't be shocking if chants of "Toga!" became commonplace at Legends games in a few months.