The first two games I saw undrafted guard Matt Janning play for the Suns in the Vegas Summer League, I was underwhelmed. He was overmatched on the defensive end of the floor by bigger, stronger shooting guards Jermaine Taylor (Houston) and Sonny Weems (Toronto). Both Taylor and Weems had big games with Janning defending them.
But talking to a Suns staffer about him after the second game, I was advised not jump to conclusions so fast.
In the third game, I paid a little more attention to the former Northeastern Husky and was rewarded with a guy who worked hard on both ends of the floor and played a solid game, showing court awareness, athleticism and vision.
Janning, 6-foot-4 and 22 years old, played four years for the Huskies, where he averaged 15 points, three rebounds and four assists in his senior year.
What impressed Suns Director of Player Personnel Todd Quinter the most about him was his basketball IQ and all-around game. He compared Matt to a Jeff Hornacek-type player who has a chance to make it in the NBA if he improves his shooting and strength.
Suns coach Dan Majerle had a similar opinion: "I love Matt. I think he's great. He can really shoot it. He's athletic. What I like about him more than anything is he knows how to play. He's got a (great) basketball IQ and understands what we're looking for. He's a hell of a player. I like him a lot.
"What he lacked physically, as far as his strength, he can make up for. He knows how to play and that makes a big difference."
Janning played point guard in two games for the Celitcs Orlando Summer League team before coming to Vegas to play off-the-ball for the Suns (summer league stats).
Matt thinks he will be a combo guard at next level.
"Having the ball in my hands, I can do a lot more things than people think," he said, "but I am very comfortable playing off the ball because I've done it the last three years. It's something that just comes natural to me."
Janning has already received invitations to training camp from the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, but is hoping for more, including a possible invitation from the Suns. With several invitations pending, Janning understands that he will have an important decision.
"You've got to try and find a spot where you can make the team and make an impact and be a player that will push guys in practice," Janning said. "As a rookie coming in as a free agent, that's my slot, that's what I'm looking at. I'm not going to be looking at playing 30 minutes a night, especially when (the Suns) have Dragic and Nash in there and then the other guards."
Janning is hearing through his agent, Jim Buckley, that he is "close" to making it on an NBA roster. Buckley recently tweeted that Janning is getting "heavy interest from the NBA and top European clubs."
"I have to weigh the options when this is over. Hopefully, I'll have a few more (camp invitations) coming in and then just pick out the best situation for me and go through that. If I make it, that would be amazing. Hopefully, it does happen, otherwise I should have some good overseas options, as well," Janning said about his immediate future.
If Janning does not make an NBA roster coming out of training camp, he has the option of playing in the D-League or going to Europe. He said that he would be interested in the D-League if he believes he would be called up to an NBA team during the season.
Janning felt that Europe, where the pay and competition is much better, would be the direction to go if he believed he would be "hanging around" the D-League for a year or two.
Janning is a perfect case for the Summer League. A little known player coming out of college who went undrafted, he has parlayed solid performances with two teams into a real shot at making an NBA or European team.
"I feel good. I'm in a good position. I'm close to getting there," Janning said.
Video of Janning's dunk during yesterday's game via NBA.com.