Roundup: NBA Summer League edition
More than 50 players with Pac-12 ties played in NBA Summer League this July, and here’s a school-by-school rundown of what some of these guys were able to accomplish in Orlando, Salt Lake City or Las Vegas:
‘Twas a busy NBA summer for former Wildcats, with eight Sean Miller disciples getting burn in Vegas. Lauri Markkanen, the No. 7 pick in 2017, put up very respectable numbers for the Bulls, averaging 14 points and nine rebounds in three summer outings. He did struggle to shoot it at 29 percent, but I’ll take his 14 and nine to go along with an assist, a steal and 1.7 blocks per game any day of the week. The other 2017 draft pick, Kadeem Allen, averaged 3.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in eight games (two starts and 14 minutes per game) for the Boston Celtics.
Also, shout out to Brandon Ashley for his solid play with the Dallas Mavericks – he played on their G League team in 2015-16 before heading overseas and averaged 10.8 points and 4.1 rebounds this summer. He is still very much an NBA prospect. And lastly, congrats to Gabe York for scooping up a Summer League 'ship with the Los Angeles Lakers (he also played for Charlotte in Orlando), who defeated Nick Johnson’s Portland Trail Blazers in the championship game. Johnson was efficient in Summer League, connecting on 70 percent (7-of-10) of his 3-point attempts.
How’s this for a blast from the past? Ike Diogu, the No. 9 pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, is trying to get back into the Association and performed well for the Washington Wizards this July by averaging 9.3 points and 3.3 rebounds on 53 percent shooting in 15 minutes per game over three outings. He’s still got that deadly low-post game but his age is likely working against him now (he’ll be 34 before NBA training camps begin). Also attempting an NBA comeback is Carrick Felix, who suffered a serious knee injury in the G League in the 2014-15 season after spending the previous year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He suited up for the Dallas Mavericks and averaged 6.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in six games.
While second-round draft pick Ivan Rabb was not able to play in Summer League due to a left ankle sprain, there was still plenty of action for Golden Bears in Sin City. Jabari Bird, the No. 56 pick of the Celtics in June, shot 44 percent from downtown and averaged 7.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in eight games across Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. He saved his best for the world champs, going for 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting in a win over the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the Las Vegas Summer League tournament.
With respect to those who already have NBA experience, Jaylen Brown looked like your typical to-be second-year NBA rotational player who is too good for Summer League, dominating opponents in Salt Lake City and averaging 13.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, a steal and a block per game in five outings for the Boston Celtics (both in SLC and Vegas). Additionally, Jorge Gutierrez is looking to get back into the NBA after spending the 2016-17 season in Turkey and averaged 7.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game for the Trail Blazers (typical Jorge, filling up multiple stat categories).
Derrick White was the Summer League headliner for Buffs fans, and the first-rounder didn’t disappoint. While he only shot 29 percent from downtown, White still managed to average 11.8 points to go along with 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in six games for the San Antonio Spurs. Moving on, Spencer Dinwiddie is coming off his best NBA season and performed well for the Brooklyn Nets in Vegas, averaging 11.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.8 steals on 46 percent shooting in five games. Lastly, Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott saw some time with the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively.
The better question is, “who from Oregon DIDN’T play in Summer League?” Jordan Bell, the No. 38 pick of Golden State, turned heads by registering a five-by-five in one game (at least five each of points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) and pulling down a Golden State Summer League record 16 rebounds in another. His shot obviously still has a long way to go, but he can find some time on the floor next year for Golden State if he can continue to do the other things that have earned him some poor man’s comparisons to Draymond Green.
Meanwhile, Dillon Brooks was solid for the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 steals on 47 percent shooting in six contests. The other 2017 Oregon draftee, Tyler Dorsey, saw limited court time for the Atlanta Hawks, appearing in three games and averaging 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds. Also, shout out to Dylan Ennis for dropping 35 in Golden State’s summer finale on 12-of-20 shooting and 8-of-11 from downtown (he also played for the Thunder in Orlando and hit four 3-pointers in two separate games for OKC).
No draftees for Oregon State this year, but three former Beavs made some waves this July. Let’s start off with Eric Moreland, who turned his Orlando stint with the Detroit Pistons into a three-year deal with Detroit (not fully guaranteed). You knew you’d get the defense and rebounding with Moreland, but probably the most impressive thing about the small sample size of games in Orlando is that he shot 77 percent from the foul line (10-of-13), a huge jump up from the 38 percent he shot in the G League this year with the Canton Charge. He has been injured one way or another for a good chunk of his professional career, so here’s to hoping Moreland can stick around with the Pistons in the regular season add some more regular season experience to that current 11-game, 2-year stint with the Sacramento Kings.
Hoping to hang on with the Milwaukee Bucks after receiving a late-season call-up, Gary Payton II continued to be the defensive pest that he is, averaging 3.3 steals in four games for the Buckaroos and making inbounds passes a nightmare for the opposing team. Lastly, Jared Cunningham did well to turn heads in Vegas in hopes of finding his way on to another NBA roster, as he went for 15.3 points on 42 percent 3-point shooting in four games with the Wizards.
The majority of the Stanford summer headlines came from Orlando, where Chasson Randle and Josh Huestis went to work for the Knicks and Thunder, respectively. Randle, a late-season acquisition of the Knicks after he played for their G League team and got called up to Philadelphia, shot 47 percent from beyond the arc en route to a 15.8-point-per-game average to go along with 2.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals. On the other hand, Oklahoma City has been developing Huestis as a 3-and-D guy mostly in the G League for the last three seasons, and the “3” part is starting come around. Coming off his best season in the G League, Huestis averaged 15 points and 6.8 rebounds on 49 percent shooting and 43 percent from beyond the arc in four contests.
In other Cardinal news, Anthony Brown saw limited court time for the Los Angeles Clippers, while Rosco Allen had his moments for the Boston Celtics, reaching double figures in each of his last two games and scoring 18 points in a win over the Warriors on Thursday.
'Twas a very busy summer for UCLA products as well, but there was one Bruin that attracted all the headlines. Of course, that guy is Lonzo Ball, and he more than lived up to the hype by earning Summer League MVP honors for averaging 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 9.3 assists (a Summer League record, mind you), 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks in six games for the Lake Show. Sure, he only shot 24 percent from downtown and he had a 2-of-15 clunker to start out his Vegas play, but the dude’s court vision is unreal – did you see those baseball passes and the punch-pass in transition to a teammate for a layup? Showtime can certainly return to the City of Angels with the Big Baller running the rock.
Before Ball took over Vegas, T.J. Leaf was very good for the Indiana Pacers, as the first-round pick averaged 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds on 49 percent shooting in Orlando. Additionally, second-rounder Jonah Bolden had some very good moments for the Philadelphia 76ers – while he only shot 31 percent from downtown, the stroke looks good out to NBA range and he also averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 23 minutes of work each night and had a double-double against Golden State. It was recently reported that Bolden will be stashed in Israel next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Philadelphia in 2018-19.
A relatively quiet summer for USC guys, as Nikola Jovanovic played in four games for the Chicago Bulls (5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds on 56 percent shooting) and Marcus Simmons saw very limited action in two games for the Detroit Pistons. I have a feeling 2018 NBA Summer League will have a much bigger Trojan feel to it…
Kyle Kuzma is being hailed as the Summer League star nobody expected after he won Summer League championship game MVP honors for his 30-point, 10-rebound effort in the finals for the Lakers against Portland Monday night. It wasn’t just that game, however, as Kuzma averaged 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks in seven games while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 48 percent from downtown. He quickly built an on-court chemistry with fellow Pac-12er Lonzo Ball, as Kuzma was usually the one on the receiving end of Ball’s baseball passes for easy layups. We’ll see how much burn Kuzma gets this upcoming season, but the future is bright for the three-year Ute.
Also playing in Summer League was Jakob Poeltl, as the former top-10 pick averaged 13.5 points and 9.0 rebounds on 71 percent shooting in four games for the Toronto Raptors. Poeltl should see an uptick in minutes in the 2017-18 regular season for the dinosaurs.
The entire city of Philadelphia held its collective breath when Markelle Fultz went down against Golden State, but it turned out to thankfully be less serious than expected. While he missed the rest of Summer League, he’ll soon be back on the court (if he isn’t already) after recovering from his lateral ankle sprain. Before the injury, Fultz was his normal explosive self, getting to his spots at will and averaging 16 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three games. He’ll have to work on finishing against NBA bigs and not getting himself caught under the basket, but Fultz is going to be fun to watch with the rest of that young Sixers core. Additionally, Marquese Chriss was back for a second tour of duty in Vegas with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 14.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in five games. They might lose a ton of games again next year, but the Suns will sure be fun to watch, and Chriss is one reason why.
In other Husky news, Dejounte Murray didn’t shoot it well but did average 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals to compliment his 6.0 points per contest in four games with the summer Spurs, while Dawg-turned-Bulldog Nigel Williams-Goss averaged 4.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals in seven games for the Utah Jazz.
According to my RealGM research, Ike Iroegbu was the only Coug involved in Summer League. He appeared in one game for the Suns, hitting his only 3-point attempt and finishing with three points and one rebound in 11 minutes.