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Harden, Pendergraph impress in NBA summer leagues

August 19, 2009

James Harden, taken with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder, played well at both the Las Vegas Summer League and the Orlando Pro Summer League, while Jeff Pendergraph, the 31st overall selection of the Portland Trail Blazers, had a strong showing in Las Vegas.

Harden, the first consensus first-team All-America selection in Sun Devil history, appeared in four games in the Las Vegas Summer League and five in the Orlando Pro Summer League with the Thunder. In nine total summer league games, the lefty from Los Angeles averaged 14.7 points per game (ppg), 3.3 rebounds per game (rpg), 2.4 assists per game (apg) and 1.6 steals per game (spg) while playing 28 minutes per game (mpg).

"It's fun," said Harden, the highest-drafted player taking part in the Orlando summer league. "We're growing together, we're having fun and getting to know one another. I'm not trying to come out here and show my individual game. That's not the kind of player I am. I'm having fun with my guys, creating different shots for my teammates and seeing everybody else score makes me happy."

Harden averaged 14.5 ppg, three rpg, 3.3 apg and 1.2 spg in four games with the Thunder at the Las Vegas Summer League. He shot 48 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc while playing 28 mpg.

Harden scored 20 points on two occasions in Las Vegas, against Chicago on July 17 and the Lakers on July 14. His breakout performance of the summer came against Los Angeles as he topped all players with 23 points, dished out a game-high five assists, grabbed five boards and recorded two steals.

In five games with the Thunder at the Orlando Pro Summer League, Harden poured in 14.8 points a night, collected 3.6 rbg and swiped 1.8 spg. He started in three games and averaged 28 mpg, helping lead Oklahoma City to a 3-2 record, including victories over the past two Eastern Conference champions, the Boston Celtics and host Orlando Magic.

The first player drafted in the second round, Pendergraph played in five Las Vegas Summer League games with the Trailblazers, averaging 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.8 blocks per game (bpg) in just over 27 mpg.

"I landed in a good spot," Pendergraph said. "They (the Trailblazers) play the basketball I'm used to playing. My mentality fits. Rebounding, being tough and nasty, that's what the coach asked me to do. I love it. That's why I'm going to fit well, because that's all I do. My confidence went way up." Pendergraph recorded his best game of the summer on July 18, against the San Antonio Spurs. A four-year starter at ASU, the Etiwanda, California native collected his first double-double as a pro, scoring 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and pulling down 10 boards.

The Las Vegas Summer League ran from July 10 through July 19. and took place at the Thomas & Mack Center and the COX Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event, which gives newly drafted players a chance to showcase their skills against young NBA players, featured 21 NBA teams from all six divisions and the NBA D-League Select, comprised of the best players from the NBA's Developmental League.

Hosted by the Orlando Magic, the Orlando Pro Summer League is the only other remaining NBA summer league. All 15 games between six teams took place at the RDV Sportsplex and the event ran for five days, from July 6 through July 10. Teams participating included the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics and a split squad composed of players from the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.