All week I have been in Orlando covering the Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League. Unfortunately, the only Northwestern grad in Orlando at the same time was Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. He was in a good mood all week as not only did the Rockets finish in first place this week and reach the Summer League’s championship game, but after years of painstaking restructuring and rebuilding, the Rockets acquired Dwight Howard and became instant contenders in the Western Conference.
By the time I write this on Friday afternoon, most of the team personnel and players will have departed Orlando and either gone home or out to Las Vegas for the second leg of the NBA Summer League. Unlike Orlando, limited to 10 teams and closed to the public, Las Vegas is the bigger event with fans able to watch rookies and undrafted free agents and other free agents try to play their way onto an NBA roster.
Once again, former Northwestern sharpshooter John Shurna will be among them.
After a decent season coming off the bench for Strasbourg in France, helping his team reach the French league finals, Shurna will play for the Milwaukee Bucks in Las Vegas during the next two weeks.
K.L. Chouinard of Bucksketball thinks Shurna has a real chance to make the team and could really shine for the Bucks during their Summer League games. Chouinard writes:
But one name to watch over the next week is John Shurna. Why? Because the Bucks need three-point shooters — and they need a lot of them. Shurna, Northwestern’s all-time leading scorer, can shoot. While playing in France’s top pro league last season, Shurna made an incredible 50.5% of his three-point attempts.
Indeed the Bucks do need more shooting with a logjam of hard-nosed, low-post power forwards and little in the way of outside shooting at the moment. Shurna would certainly provide an outside spark.
Shurna nearly made the NBA last year, making the final round of cuts with the Knicks before New York opted to sign Chris Copeland in the end. Shurna played for the Hawks Summer League team last year in Las Vegas. Milwaukee’s Summer League roster includes Bucks players Ish Smith, Gustavo Ayon and John Henson. It also has Wisconsin standout Mike Brusewitz and Marquette guard Junior Cadougan.
Obviously the two centers are players already on the Bucks roster, so Shurna will have to fight for time among the power forwards and small forwards to make his mark.
The Bucks will open up a three-game schedule (followed by tournament play) in Las Vegas on Saturday against Denver.
Juice Thompson is not playing Summer League this year. He played for Asvel in France last year and on the Hornets Summer League team last summer.