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August 28, 2014

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Who to Watch

O.J. Mayo (Memphis)

The third pick in this year’s NBA Draft gets to show his game for the first time as a pro. The Grizzlies had to take on a bad salary to get him in a trade following the draft. This is his chance to begin proving he was worth it. NBA bio

Kevin Love (Minnesota)

The 2007 All-American from UCLA will get to stay in the sunshine a little longer before leaving for the chilly winters of The North Star state. Traded for Mayo after the draft, will the 6-foot-9 power forward prove those who doubt he's tall enough to succeed — or maybe even dominate — in the post? NBA bio

Eric Gordon (L.A. Clippers)

With the recent signing of Baron Davis, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year will want to take full advantage of his playing time in Vegas. The loss of Corey Maggette to Golden State via free agency means the Clippers need someone to take over those shots and points, and Gordon (20.9 points per game as a freshman last year) could be just the guy. NBA bio

Nate Robinson (New York)

The NBA Summer League’s reigning MVP will get an introduction to Mike D’antoni’s up-tempo style. His quickness should make his height (5-foot-9) even less of an issue than its ever been (remember when he blocked 7-6 Yao Ming?!). NBA bio

Danilo Gallinari (New York)

The No. 6 pick in this year's draft, the 19-year-old Italian is the son of a former teammate of D'antoni's. Knicks fans shouldn't cry favoritism just yet, though, as how many teenagers can lead an Italian A-1 team in scoring (17.5 points per game) and finish second in rebound (5.7)? With a resume like that, Gallinari was worthy of a lottery pick. If 6 was too high is still to be determined. NBA bio

Mike Conley (Memphis)

The fourth pick from last year’s draft was solid in his rookie season with averages of 9.4 points per game and 4.2 assists a contest. He gets an early look at the Grizzlies’ new weapons in Mayo and first-rounder Darrell Arthur, and the time together can only benefit a team that finished with the third-worst record last year. NBA bio

Darrell Arthur (Memphis)

Speaking of Arthur, the lanky forward was traded three times after slipping to 27th overall in the draft thanks to (unfounded) concerns about a possible kidney problem. Sent from New Orleans to Portland to Houston to (finally) Memphis, the former Jayhawk might be motivated to work even harder by his free fall in the draft, reminiscent of Paul Pierce, Carlos Boozer or (now teammate) Rudy Gay NBA bio

Rodney Stuckey (Detroit)

Last year’s first-round pick provided plenty of spark in the playoffs for the Pistons scoring in double figures six times. With Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton both over 30 and Lindsey Hunter and Juan Dixon both free agents, this is the year for Stuckey to keep up that playoff output and prove himself ready to take over a starting spot sooner, rather than later. NBA bio

Al Thornton (L.A. Clippers)

Thornton was a scoring machine as a rookie with 15 points per contest over his last 26 contests. Like Gordon with Maggette, a recent free-agent defection (Elton Brand to Philadelphia, in this case) opens up even more opportunities to Thornton. If he and Gordon can mesh well during these 10 days, the Clippers future looks very bright. NBA bio

Corey Brewer (Minnesota)

Brewer struggled at times as a rookie, averaging just 5.8 ppg. Looks to improve in the Summer League as well as get a quick introduction to Love. He increased his scoring average a bit in his final 25 games, and the addition of Love down low and sharpshooter Mike Miller on the perimeter could give him more room to maneuver this season. NBA bio

Thaddeus Young (Philadelphia)

The explosive 2007 first-round choice came on late last season to average 10.2 ppg. for the 76ers in the playoffs. The addition of Brand and first-round pick Maurice Speights to the paint should create even more scoring chances for the 20-year-old Young. NBA bio

Rod Benson (Toronto)

Internet sensation and original honoree of the "Boom Tho" movement comes to Sin City to try and make an NBA team. Though he's almost assuredly more entertaining off the court than on it, that's far more a testament to his intelligence and humor than a condemnation of his basketball skills. NBA bio

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