LAS VEGAS — Approximately 70 point guards comprise the 22 NBA teams that are fielding a roster in the 2010 Summer League at Thomas & Mack over the next week.
Of that lot, 54 are rookies. Breaking it down further, nine of the 70 or so point guards are listed under 6-feet tall (meaning a diminutive size is not a deterrent). Seven of those nine are rookies.
Not one of them is Nic Wise.
The former 5-10, 180 playmaker for Arizona is at home in Houston. Jeremy Wise (no relation), a 6-1 rookie point guard from Southern Mississippi, is here with the Golden State Warriors. But not Nic Wise.
NBA scouts like it that a player performed at the highest level, such as Wise did at Arizona in the Pac-10 and in the NCAA tournament before his senior season. However, looking at the NBA Summer League rosters indicates that high-level experience is equal in worth to a LeBron James Cavaliers jersey right now.
Undrafted rookie point guards are here from programs such as Portland (Pooh Jeter, 5-11, Cavaliers), Illinois-Chicago (Josh Mayo, 6-0, Mavericks), College of Charleston (Dontaye Draper, 5-11, Nuggets), Wright State (Dashaun Wood, 5-11, Clippers) and Utah State (Jaycee Carroll, 6-1, Knicks).
In the initial NBA Summer League game between Denver and Dallas, Mayo and Draper were on the court along with Harvard rookie point guard Jeremy Lin with the Mavericks. Draper (who had three steals in the first half) and Lin (four points on 2-of-4 shooting) are credible, but Mayo looks out of his element.
The Suns, who interviewed and treated Wise to dinner the week of the NBA draft last month, have four rookie point guards on their summer-league roster. San Diego’s Brandon Johnson, 6-0, and Northeastern’s Matt Janning, 6-4, are among them.
Wise has been through a lot more pressure-filled games on national television and filled arenas than this sample of mid-major guards who are in Las Vegas. None of these guys can claim they averaged 21.3 points a game in a three-game NCAA Tournament run, like Wise did in 2009. But Wise is not here.
Some rumblings among NBA scouts and front-office personnel include Wise lacking in size, decision-making skills, finishing ability and health in his knees. The 54 rookie point guards here apparently do not have similar concerns.
Wise’s career is not over. He will likely sign with a professional team overseas. He is about to embark on a similar path as the two regular starting point guards who played before him at Arizona — Jason Gardner and Mustafa Shakur.
The last regular starting point guard for Arizona — which is dubbed “Point Guard U” — to sustain an NBA career is Jason Terry, who was drafted in 1999 and will be in his 12th NBA season in 2010-11. Jerryd Bayless is transitioning into playing point guard now in the NBA after playing mostly at the off-guard position at Arizona and in his rookie season with Portland in 2008-09.
Gardner and Shakur are still ticking. With the way Shakur has played in Orlando’s summer league, he is in position to be a backup guard in Oklahoma City or elsewhere next season. Gardner, a standout in the German professional league, is reportedly competing in the Indy Pro-Am league that runs into August.
Expect Wise to follow the lead of Gardner and Shakur and keep his NBA dream alive for as long as he works toward that goal.