Postgame: Jeremy Tyler

Mavericks' center Jeremy Tyler talks with Kristen Ledlow about his 25 point performance against the Lakers.

With just a few seconds left in a tie game yesterday between the Mavs and Lakers, Maalik Wayns attacked the basket. His layup was off the mark, but forward Jeremy Tyler was there for the rebound and put-back layup, putting Dallas up 88-86 with 1.5 seconds left. The Mavs went on to win the game and advance in the Summer League playoffs.

Tyler, 24, scored a game-high 25 points in the win, adding 11 rebounds. In four Summer League appearances with the Mavs, Tyler averages 11.5 points on 59.4 percent shooting, 8.5 boards, and 1.3 steals per game. After spending a year away from the NBA, Tyler had to have a strong showing in Vegas to pique teams’ interest, and his performance so far with the Mavs has likely done just that.

Selected by Charlotte 39th overall in the 2011 draft, Tyler holds career averages of 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds across three seasons with three teams. He didn’t play at an American university, opting instead to play overseas with Maccabi Haifa in the Israeli League and a year later in the Japanese BJ League. For that reason, he was somewhat of an unknown commodity heading into the draft, although his 7’5″ wingspan turned heads at the Combine. At 6’10”, 260 with a wingspan and overall athleticism like that, Tyler certainly has an NBA body.

But after spending one season with the New York Knicks in 2013-14, Tyler went back overseas for one year. He played for the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association, starring alongside former NBA guard Von Wafer. In 41 appearances for the Brave Dragons, Tyler averaged 22.1 points on 53.5 percent shooting and 11.2 rebounds as his club went 28-13 and finished sixth in the league.

Often, players who spend time overseas come back more confident in their own abilities. Tyler was the secondary option for Shanxi Zhongyu, whereas in the NBA he’d been a reserve who often played fewer than 15 minutes per game. He’s averaged 24.0 per contest with Dallas in Las Vegas so far, however, and he looks more polished and effective than he did earlier in his career. Keep in mind that 24 years old is still ridiculously young for an NBA big man, especially for one who didn’t play in college.

Tyler Jam

Jeremy Tyler blows by the Lakers' defense for the big stuff.

In some ways, Tyler is the complete opposite of his frontcourt mate, Mavs second-year player Dwight Powell, who spent four years at Stanford before declaring for the draft after his senior campaign. Powell, similarly, was drafted in the second round, but not because he was unknown. Freshmen and sophomores are considered to have higher ceilings than juniors and seniors at the NCAA level, and as Powell’s numbers hadn’t necessarily improved year-to-year in school, his draft stock sank despite clearly having NBA skills. That also was the case with Mavs forward Chandler Parsons.

Second-round picks have to earn their way in this league, and Powell spent a lot of time in the D-League with the Texas Legends as a result. His numbers jumped out of the box score, of course, and his performance in Las Vegas has created all sorts of buzz.

This is where Tyler and Powell have something in common, though: They’ve both put up big numbers in the D-League, suggesting that there’s plenty of NBA potential within each of them. Tyler holds career averages of 17.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in 23 appearances, including averaging 18.0 points and 10.2 boards on assignment with the Erie BayHawks during the 2013-14 season.

NBA success doesn’t always come overnight for NBA big men. It takes a while not only to fill out physically, but also to learn how to rotate on defense, how to rebound, and how to finish. But in both Powell and, now, Tyler, the Mavs have two bigs with NBA-ready bodies and a sizable box of tools to work with. Tyler, in particular, is fighting for his NBA future. It will be interesting to see if he’s invited to training camp by Dallas or, potentially, another team.

Summer League is the time for NBA hopefuls to stand out, and Tyler has done his best to do so this year.

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