From trades and free agent signings to an earthquake during Zion Williamson’s opening night in Las Vegas, the NBA has found a way to become a year-long sport. Summer League games have been split up into three different tournaments; The California Classic, The Utah Jazz Summer League, and the Las Vegas NBA Summer League. There have been 95 games played from July 1st through the 15th, leaving a number of standouts along the way.
Top Standouts in the NBA Summer League
The California Classic
Kendrick Nunn – Miami Heat
In the two games Kendrick Nunn played in Sacramento, he averaged 24 points and 2 steals and shot 43 percent from the field. The undrafted second-year shooting guard was the top scorer in the California Classic. Nunn spent his rookie year playing for the Golden State Warriors G-League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Miami Heat signed Nunn on April 10th and may have found a diamond in the rough.
Devontae Cacok – Los Angeles Lakers
Devontae Cacok surprised many as he seemed to find ways to dominate games in every facet. The undrafted rookie from UNC-Wilmington is an undersized power forward. But he grabs your attention for his play on both ends of the floor. Cacok averaged 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in Sacramento. Shooting 57 percent from the field, Cacok tied for the sixth-best shooting percentage in the tournament.
Yante Maten – Miami Heat
Yante Maten has continued to show improvement from last year while on a two-way contract with Miami’s G-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Maten, a 6’8” power forward went undrafted in the 2018 draft. Averaging 19 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block for the Heat in the two games he played. Yante had an outstanding college career at the University of Georgia. After an impressive junior season, he won SEC Player of the Year his senior season.
Wenyen Gabriel – Sacramento Kings
Wenyen Gabriel averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds for the Kings. Gabriel is a power forward from Kentucky standing at 6’9”. During his sophomore season, he racked up 40 blocks, leading the Wildcats in blocks. Gabriel and his family’s journey is one heck of a story. Escaping the Second Sudanese Civil War two weeks after he was born, his mother moved him and his three siblings to Cairo, Egypt. Eventually the family was granted an appeal to move to Manchester, New Hampshire to start a new life.
Damian Jones – Golden State Warriors
Damian Jones‘ shooting percentage alone is noteworthy. Shooting 75 percent from the field, Jones also held his own defensively, averaging 1.3 blocks and 1 steal. He Finished second all-time in blocks at Vanderbilt and third all-time in shooting percentage. In 2016, he declared for the draft and while working out for the Orlando Magic, he tore his pectoral muscle in his right arm which required surgery. This did not stop the Warriors’ interest in the young seven-foot center, drafting him 30th overall in the 2016 Draft. The two time NBA champion with the Warriors was traded away shortly after the California Classic on July 8th to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Omari Spellman.
The Utah Jazz Summer League
Tony Bradley – Utah Jazz
The 6’10” center from the University of North Carolina has spent the past two years playing mostly for the Jazz’s G-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. Tony Bradley averaged 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal per game this summer. Bradley was a primary substitute for the North Carolina Tar Heels 2017 championship team as a freshman. The Los Angeles Lakers spent their 28th pick in the 2017 draft on Bradley and traded his draft rights to the Jazz.
Lonnie Walker IV – San Antonio Spurs
Lonnie Walker jumped out to a great start this summer averaging 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 steal. He is looking to have a break out second year after spending his rookie season rehabbing a right medial meniscus tear. The 6’5” shooting guard from the University of Miami Florida, was the San Antonio Spurs 18th pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Walker was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school and he made the ACC All-Freshman Team during his time at the University of Miami.
Yuta Watanabe – Memphis Grizzlies
Yuta Watanabe averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds, and shot 50 percent from the field in Utah. The Memphis Grizzlies has a young man who is making history for Japanese players in the NBA. Watanabe is the second Japanese player to play in the NBA. A 6’9” center who played four years at George Washington in college, went undrafted and was eventually picked up by the Brooklyn Nets. He spent last year’s Summer league with the Nets and afterward was picked up on a two-way contract with the Grizzlies. He spent his year mostly playing for the G-League affiliate Memphis Hustle.
Willie Reed – Utah Jazz
A travel player so far in his professional career, Willie Reed has spent his last four years with a different team each year. The 6’11” power forward made a name for himself playing in front of the home crowd in Salt Lake City, averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal. Reed played his college ball at Saint Louis University and declared for the NBA draft in 2011. Going undrafted in 2011, Reed was picked up by a team in Spain but left before the regular season started. Reed has had a long journey to get to this point and may have finally found a home in Utah.
Keldon Johnson – San Antonio Spurs
The 29th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Spurs made the right choice drafting him in the first round. Keldon Johnson played at the University of Kentucky for John Calipari. He averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds. Johnson was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2019. A 6’6” small forward, Johnson is showing he belongs in the NBA. He is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and shooting 58 percent from the field while only playing 22 minutes per game. The Spurs signed him on July 1st, making him officially apart of the Spurs roster.
Las Vegas Summer League
Jarrett Allen – Brooklyn Nets
A force throughout the tournament in Las Vegas, Jarrett Allen averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and shot 61 percent from the field. The 22nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft by the Nets, the 19-year-old has already made a name for himself. Allen became the second youngest player to ever set foot on the floor for the Nets in 2017. Eventually becoming a starter for the Nets in January of 2018, he became a dominating shot blocker and rebounder. Allen has already accumulated a career-high 24 rebounds in an overtime win against the Houston Rockets.
Mitchell Robinson – New York Knicks
Mitchell Robinson made the 2019 NBA All-Rookie Second Team averaging 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Robinson’s numbers in the Las Vegas tournament demand attention. He has averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks while shooting an astounding 85 percent from the field. Robinson’s career in college is an odd one. However, he made history for being the first NBA draft pick to not play for any college, professional, high school, or post-graduate team throughout an entire year before entering the NBA draft. The 7’1” center is showing that he is continuing to work on his game, showing that the New York Knicks did not make a mistake drafting him in the second round with the 36th pick.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker – New Orleans Pelicans
Nickeil Alexander-Walker was the 17th pick by the Brooklyn Nets but was later traded to the Atlanta Hawks, and finally traded to the Pelicans. Averaging 24 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 5 rebounds, the rookie has shown moments of greatness. The 6’5” shooting guard played his college ball at Virginia Tech earning Third-Team All ACC in 2019. As a Sophomore, Alexander-Walker helped lead Virginia Tech to a number four seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2019. David Griffin has made headlines more than once this off-season, trading Anthony Davis for the majority of the Lakers young core, and acquiring loads of young talent. Alexander-Walker should fit perfectly in his scheme as the Pelicans should be a fun team to watch this season.
Chris Boucher – Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors look to continue their success after their first NBA title. With the fallout of Kawhi Leonard leaving this off-season, the Raptors look to fill their roster with new talent heading into the 2020 season and Chris Boucher has done more than enough to earn a roster spot this season. Boucher averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block, and shot 49 percent from the field. Boucher played his college ball at the University of Oregon and was named to the Pac-12 defensive team his senior year.
Anfernee Simons – Portland Trailblazers
Anfernee Simons was the 24th pick in the first round of the 2018 draft for the Portland Trail Blazers and spent the majority of the year on the bench. His first career start was the last game of the year. He scored 37 points making him the first Blazer rookie to score 30+ points in a game. Simons averaged 22 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, and shot an impressive 56 percent from the field with an average of 26 minutes per game in summer league action.
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