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Original Issue

What Happened in Vegas

Five things we learned at the Summer League

1. There's a star on the rise in Toronto

When new Raptors G.M. Masai Ujiri shipped 7-foot Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks, he ditched an unpopular and overpaid player. The trade netted sharpshooter Steve Novak and draft picks, but, more important, it paved the way for 21-year-old Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas (above)—who averaged 18.8 points and 10.0 rebounds while dominating the Las Vegas competition—to become the franchise's center of attention. "I see an All-Star in the making," coach Dwane Casey said, beaming.

2. The NBA's rags-to-riches stories never get old

Undrafted out of Old Dominion, Warriors guard Kent Bazemore, 24, established himself as an enthusiastic towel waver last season as a rookie. His sideline antics garnered headlines, but no one grows up dreaming of being a gimmick. In Vegas the 6'5" Bazemore made the most of his minutes, placing among the league's leading scorers while also playing shutdown D—putting him, for once, on the receiving end of standing ovations.

3. Ben McLemore isn't bashful

The rookie shooting guard from Kansas faced questions about his assertiveness before the Kings selected him at No. 7. His response? To hoist and hoist and hoist again. He attempted 78 shots over five games despite connecting on just 33.3% and suffering through 0-for-8 and 4-for-23 outings. Even more astounding: In 150 minutes he had a grand total of zero assists.

4. It's time to loosen up the league's shoe policy

NBA rules that require a player to wear shoes that conform to his team's color scheme don't apply in Vegas, meaning Summer Leaguers were free to wear their favorite retro Jordans and new-age fluorescent models. Traditionalists might view ostentatious kicks as a distraction, but the interest generated was undeniable. If the NBA plans to pursue the placement of advertisements on jerseys, it should at least allow players to choose what they wear on their own feet.

5. If it ain't broke, don't fix it

In an effort to increase interest, the NBA experimented with a new tournament format. It was a total dud. Complaints raged over the uncertain schedule and teams having to play four consecutive days—which meant many top players were rested, defeating the whole purpose of the change.