The goals for Sin City visitors are fairly simple: relax, shop, eat at buffets, party, gamble, and throw caution to the wind.
For Jeremy Tyler, the objectives were entirely different in Las Vegas.
Tyler’s facial expressions scared small children as the aggressive power forward was in desperate pursuit of a highly coveted position on an NBA squad. He attacked the glass with a disregard for his opponents, he nailed the perimeter jumper, he showcased his impressive handle for a big man, and treated each Summer League outing like Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Tyler was on a specific mission.
“Every game is a game to help build who you are as a professional. This is a business and you come out here to perform and show what you work on all summer, “a much calmer Tyler stated after his final Summer League contest.
The beauty of the late July exhibition games is the opportunity to watch athletes with everything on the line. You can also discover the diamond in the rough (see Chris Copeland). Unlike LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Carmelo Anthony, these professional basketball players are navigating a windy road to the NBA.
Speaking of that windy road, Tyler took an uncommon path to reach the league in 2011. After posting a sparkling 28.7 points per game during his junior year at San Diego High School, the five-star recruit opted to forgo his senior campaign and signed a six-figure deal with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Super League.
Tyler spent time in Japan playing for Tokoyo Apache the following season, needing another year to meet the NBA draft requirements. In 2011, he was selected 39th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats before the Warriors traded for his rights. Over the course of the following two years, Tyler logged minutes in the D-League and for the Atlanta Hawks. Tyler has played a total of 63 games in the NBA for two different teams but he’s only 22 years old with a wealth of experience and a whole new outlook on the basketball landscape.
“Totally different,” Tyler explained his mental state. “You get a totally different perspective of everything when you’ve been somewhere and it’s taken away from you and you leave the situation saying you could have did more. It’s not a good feeling. That was my thing. I never want to leave a situation saying I could have done more. I could have done more in Golden State but things happen and struggles make you stronger.”
From the jump, Tyler hit the double-double in his first game in Vegas. In a route over the Wizards, the versatile forward dropped 13 points and eight boards in just 13 minutes of action. He finished strong by combining for 38 points and 11 boards in the final two contests while shooting 66.6 percent from the floor.
“I got sent down to the D-League and just got my swag back and I try to keep that chip on my shoulder, keep that edge, and try to come out here at Summer League and have a good performance,” described his five-game output for the Knicks.
At 6-10 and 260 pounds, Tyler possesses all the physical tools to excel at the next level. He can operate at both the power forward spot and at the 5 as a stretch big man. However, we all know there’s more to the equation than just an NBA-ready body. Most of the players in the league need a mix of maturity, the right perspective, work ethic, and fortuitous circumstances.
Tyler was a trailblazer in 2009 but admittedly not quite ready for the big show. In the smoldering heat of Las Vegas where people flock to escape responsibility, Tyler displayed a sense of purpose and extreme focus on the basketball floor as he searches for another opportunity at NBA success in 2013.