READER beware, the NBA Summer League isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of how well a player will do in the pros. In the past Trey Lyles (2016), Seth Curry (2015), Glen Rice Jr (2014), Dwight Buycks (2013) and Damian Lillard (2012) have been the top scorers annually, with some of those names relevant and some, well, not so much. There are some first-year players and others with some NBA experience under their belts who are capturing the attention of the basketball public, for all the right reason. Time will tell if they are a flash in the pan or the real deal, but here are the guys making headlines for all the right reasons.
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Honourable Mentions: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Jordan Bell (Golden State Warriors), Caleb Swanigan (Portland Trailblazers), Pat McCaw (Golden State Warriors)
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
FEAR not Utah Jazz fans, there is hope. After Gordon Hayward’s deflection, there is a big scoring void at the Jazz, but Donovan Mitchel may be here to save the day. Utah acquired the rights to Mitchell on draft night by trading up with the Nuggets and the first-year player rewarded his new team with a 37 point, eight steal outburst on Tuesday. So yeah, it’s fair to say he looks legit.
Image from nba.com
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
THERE was plenty of shade thrown Boston’s way when they traded back from the No.1 slot and opted not to pick ‘surefire thing’ Markelle Fultz. Well, right now it looks like a masterstroke by Danny Ainge. Tatum has turned in 17.7 points and eight rebounds a game through three Vegas appearances, showing poise and an ability to create his own shot. I’m excited to watch what this Danny Granger/Paul Pierce hybrid will become!
Troy Williams, Houston Rockets
A formula that all ‘superteams’ need to follow involves finding great value guys on cheap contracts. With Houston spearheaded by Chris Paul and James Harden, Troy Williams may just be playing himself into that exact role. Scoring at over 24 PPG through four games, he shapes as a 3-and-D guy that can fill a void left by Sam Dekker for the Rockets.
John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
LADIES and gentlemen this is John Collins.
Now that you are acquainted let me fill you in on Collins. The 6ft 10in Wake Forest sophomore was taken 19th overall by the Atlanta Hawks as they begin to build their franchise from the ground up after shipping away Dwight Howard and letting Paul Millsap walk. Averaging a double-double so far (17.5 PPG & 10.3RPG) it looks like the Hawks are on the right track.
Dennis Smith Jr, Dallas Mavericks
ONE of my favourite prospects heading into the draft it wasn’t a secret Dennis Smith Jr had great scoring potential. En route to over 18 points a game Smith has showcased his elite athleticism and playmaking ability that may see the Mavs hand him the keys to the car and put his foot to the floor. I’m tipping at least one dunk comp crown in Smith’s future as well after watching some of his lay-up line work.
Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs
THE leading scorer at Las Vegas is hard to go unnoticed and Bryn Forbes is no exception. With a potential hole in their guard rotation, pending Manu Ginobili’s decision to retire, the Spurs may be hunting another bench scorer. Back-to-back 35 point games are a good way to get noticed as Forbes has done his best to force his way into some more playing time in San Antonio.
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