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Barstool NBA: Recapping All of Summer League

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Summer League is officially over and there is plenty to talk about. Again, I don’t like deciding if people are ‘steals’ or ‘busts’ based on Summer League, because first round talent and second year guys should look much better than those undrafted ones. There’s just such a gap talent wise and really athleticism wide that makes guys look like All Stars. This will recap all three Summer Leagues, who did impress, what to take away and what not to overreact on. When I am watching Summer League, the thing I look for is what did a guy change in his game. That tells me more than shooting percentages or basic stats. Did they adjust their shooting form, were they consistent with their shooting form, did they add a post move, etc. Let’s get into the recap:

Orlando Summer League:

Champions: Dallas Mavericks

Points Leader: Okaro White (Miami Heat) 19ppg

Rebounds Leader: Eric Moreland (Detroit Pistons) 8.4 rpg

Assists Leader: Daniel Hamilton (Oklahoma City Thunder) 6.8 apg

Utah Summer League: 

Champions: Utah Jazz

Points Leader: Bryn Forbes (Spurs) 21.3 ppg

Rebounds Leader: Jaylen Brown (Celtics) 10.5 rpg

Assists Leader: Dante Exum (Jazz) 6.3 apg

Vegas Summer League:

Champions: Los Angeles Lakers

Points Leader: Donovan Mitchell (Jazz) 28.0 ppg

Rebounds Leader: Matt Costello (Timberwolves) 12.0 rpg

Assists Leader: Lonzo Ball (Lakers) 9.3 apg

Just How Good is This Rookie Class? 

This rookie class is going to be very good. This draft, as I and everyone else, mentioned this was a really deep class. Now, there aren’t going to be a ton of stars from this group, but there will be a ton of rotational players, really good rotational players. That’s sort of what you want from a draft. Sure, you want the star, but not everyone is going to be the beginning of the 2003 Draft. I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to the 2003 class, it feels more like the 2010 or 2011 classes. Most of these guys are incredibly polished and you don’t see too many of the ‘projects’ that we often see taken, especially in the lottery. Just go look back at the lottery, every player should be a rotational player right away. Almost everyone taken in the lottery is going to a perfect fit as well. There aren’t guys that are going to get buried or play out of position just to get on the floor.

So what rookies impressed? 

This is obviously a subjective argument as it’s all on personal thoughts. Who outplayed what I thought they would do? Who showed off something different? Guys like Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum weren’t necessarily as impressive because they did what I thought they should. Ball’s game was exactly what I thought he would be. Tatum scored like I assumed he would at this level. Again, that’s just what happens when you’re as good as those two. So while they might be two of the best rookies in the class, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were the most impressive. This takes into account all of the summer.

1. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)

2. John Collins (Hawks)

3. Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavericks) 

4. Caleb Swanigan (Blazers) 

5. Bam Adebayo (Heat) 

6. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers) 

7. Josh Jackson (Suns)

8. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

9. Lonzo Ball (Lakers) 

10. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)

What Veterans Did Enough to make a jump? 

This is one of the beauties of summer league. There are guys, second or third year, that finally look the part. We’ve seen people in the past make the jump based off of a strong summer league and this year there are four that really benefited from playing in Summer Leagues. They are Bryn Forbes, Wayne Selden, Troy Williams and Patrick McCaw. In fact, we saw Troy Williams be rewarded with a 3-year contract from the Rockets yesterday. We even saw Dakari Johnson, another veteran that played really well over the summer, get a 2-year deal from the Thunder. But, focusing on the guys listed here. Forbes should sneak into the rotation with the Spurs, even with them drafting Derrick White. The backcourt needs help, especially with Tony Parker out for a few months in the regular season. Forbes can provide shooting and scoring with that second unit. Selden always looked the part of being an NBA player. The question for him was always consistency. McCaw is a guy that we’ve seen play serious minutes in the NBA Finals, and should be solidly in the second unit for the Warriors. For guys like this it’s all about securing the contract, providing trade value or being consistently in the rotation. You want to see these 2nd and 3rd year guys blow people away and look like they should be All Stars, because they have the experience of playing in the NBA and a year of NBA strength and conditioning.

Remembering it’s two different games.

One of the biggest struggles with most college fans is that the NBA is simply a different game than college. Players don’t necessarily translate to the NBA just because they dominated college. There’s a reason a guy like Caleb Swanigan or Josh Hart went late first round despite being consensus All-Americans. I heard this quite a bit during Summer League. I can’t believe Dennis Smith is so good at the NBA level when he wasn’t dominant at college. Or I can’t believe someone like Bryce Alford isn’t going to be an NBA player after starting and having a good year at UCLA.

Knicks fans, don’t get too upset yet

This is something I have to keep telling myself after watching Dennis Smith tear up the Vegas Summer League. Yes, Frankie Nicotine didn’t play over the summer, but let’s remember he’s still an 18-year old kid that could turn out decent. Would I have taken Dennis Smith (or Malik Monk) over him? Yes. But, we still haven’t seen him in a NBA setting, so it’s a little unfair to freak out about his pick. Should he have fallen past the Knicks? Again, yes. But, let’s wait until we see him play with the Knicks until we scream bust. This is just me trying to talk myself and other Knick fans into Frankie Nicotine.

Two-Way contracts showing value:

One of the biggest things to come this offseason is the addition of two-way contracts. They give NBA teams two more contracts, where guys will spend training camp with the NBA team then mainly play in the G-League, but can play up to 45 days with the NBA team. This allows undrafted guys a chance to make it and lets NBA teams further evaluate players that are showing out in the Summer League. We’ve seen someone like Alex Caruso grab a two-way contract with the Lakers. This is essentially becoming the new draft and stash. It lets teams try to find diamonds in the rough as there are plenty of success stories of G-League guys in the NBA. Matt Costello is another guy who played his way to a two-way contract with the Spurs.