The Las Vegas NBA Summer League is heading into the final stretch. As teams vie for the Summer ship, fans are checking out players that they hope will be impactful for years to come. Here are ten of the players you should definitely be watching:
Despite going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, Jaiteh, a French native, has built an impressive resume playing overseas before joining the Philadelphia 76ers’ Summer League team. While playing for Strasbourg IG in the French-A League, he averaged 8.6 points per game, along with 5.3 rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Standing at 6-foot-11, with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Jaiteh has the ability to become a defensive stopper. Known as more of a typical post player, he thrives in pick and roll situations. Even with the NBA style transitioning to more positionless basketball and favoring big men that can play on the perimeter, Jaiteh’s ability to finish around the rim and defensive potential is enticing. Jaiteh faces an uphill battle in making the 76ers’ roster, with young bigs like Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the team, as well as newly-signed veteran Amir Johnson; however, a good showing in Summer League could result in him working his way onto a young Sixers team.
G/F Patrick McCaw
As a rookie with the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, McCaw was able to carve out solid minutes even with a plethora of talented wing players on the team. In the regular season, he appeared in 71 games, averaging 4.0 points per game in 15 minutes off the bench. While his average minutes dropped in the playoffs by 3 minutes, he continued to play well, shooting 34.8 percent from three-point range. In his second year, McCaw, the 38th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, could find himself playing more time as the Warriors look to repeat as champions. Through five Summer League games, McCaw has averaged 20 points per game, shooting 45.6 percent from the field. If McCaw can keep his aggressiveness and strong shooting into the regular season, he should expect to see more minutes in the Warriors’ rotation.
When the Boston Celtics selected Jaylen Brown with the third pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, they got an athletic talent that had the potential to develop into an excellent two-way wing player. Brown, who started 14 games in his rookie year, was a main contributor off the bench on a Celtics team that captured the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference. With the Celtics trading Avery Bradley to Detroit Pistons this offseason, Brown has the opportunity to carve a more significant role with the team in the upcoming season. He, along with first-round pick Jayson Tatum, have led the way for Boston during Summer League. Despite shooting 30.3 percent from the field in three games, Brown has averaged 10.3 points per game and shown the athleticism and and fearlessness at the rim that made the Celtics comfortable with parting ways with Bradley.
Coming into the league as the second pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ingram was lauded for his offensive skillset and potential, drawing comparisons to Kevin Durant with his frame and scoring versatility. During his rookie year, he only started 40 games but averaged 9.4 points per game en route to being named to All-Rookie Second Team. In Ingram’s lone Summer League game played, he showed fans the offensive arsenal that they are hoping to see from the second-year player, exploding for 26 points. Unfortunately, he was forced out of the end of the game due to a leg injury and subsequently ruled out for the rest of Summer League. However, if Ingram’s brief showing is a sign of things to come in the regular season, Los Angeles Lakers fans should feel very good about their team’s future.
Forbes was one of the young guards that the San Antonio Spurs relied on following Kawhi Leonard’s ankle injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. With the Spurs renouncing the rights to Jonathon Simmons and the possibility of Manu Ginobili retiring, Summer League is crucial for Forbes to show that he can play prolonged minutes in Gregg Popovich’s system. The undrafted player from Michigan State has dominated Summer League so far, leading the league in scoring with 29.3 points per game through four contests. Although he won’t be looked upon to score as much during the regular season, the Spurs have to be impressed with his strong play so far.
G/F Wayne Selden
Despite boasting an impressive collegiate career at the University of Kansas, Selden went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft, but quickly signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, who are looking for depth behind point guard Mike Conley. Selden immediately made his case for the backup point guard position in his first Summer League game, dropping 28 points and hitting the game-winning shot against the Washington Wizards.
— NBA (@NBA) July 8, 2017
He has looked like anything but an undrafted rookie, displaying the poise of a savvy veteran and showing off his remarkable ability to finish contested shots at the rim. Averaging 24.8 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from the field through four games, Selden is making it very hard for the Grizzlies coaching staff to deny him a roster spot.
F Jayson Tatum
Tatum, the third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was another reason why the Celtics were comfortable with trading Avery Bradley. Tatum, a standout freshman at Duke University, has the scoring ability that the Celtics desperately need to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. In Summer League, Tatum has been spectacular, showing off great offensive moves and consistently draining tough shots over defenders. Tatum has previously said that Kobe Bryant is his favorite player and one can easily tell that from Tatum’s preference to take tough, fadeaway shots. Regardless, averaging 18.4 points per game in the Summer League bodes well for Tatum’s future.
Selected as the ninth pick by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2017 NBA Draft, Dennis Smith Jr. was deemed the steal of the Draft by some. His athleticism, burst, and high-flying nature make him perfect to run the point in today’s NBA. He has shown off rim-rattling dunk after rim-rattling dunk, becoming a highlight reel from the beginning of Summer League. Through four Summer League plays, Smith Jr. has done everything for the Mavericks, with an impressive statline of 20.0 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.5 steals. As the Mavericks continue to rebuild their franchise, they’ll likely look at Smith Jr. to lead the way.
Coming into the Draft, Fox drew comparisons to fellow Kentucky Wildcat and Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall, due to his lightning-speed quickness and ability to get to the rim. He was also compared to Wall because of the need to improve his suspect jumpshot and the need for him to develop it once he came into the league. Although he’s only averaged 11.3 points per game in four Summer League games, Fox has penetrated defenses with ease, which has set up his teammates for easy looks. He’s also been a pest on defense with his long arms, averaging 2.3 steals per game.
With the Atlanta Hawks trading Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets and Paul Millsap signing with the Denver Nuggets, the way is all but paved for Collins, the 19th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, to carve out a significant role in his rookie season. He has been a double-double machine so far, averaging 17.5 points per game and 10.3 rebounds in four Summer League games. If Collins can keep this up for the Hawks in the regular season, there shouldn’t be too much of a drop-off with Atlanta’s post play.