Who Has Impressed the Most in NBA Summer League?
It was our first chance to see some of the brightest NBA prospects and yet another opportunity to watch many other young players hoping to carve out their niche in the league.
With NBA Summer League coming to a close, many have impressed in what has been an exhilarating string of games. The Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Sacramento Kings among many other teams all come away excited for what their future holds, as each of their young crops of talent balled out in July in front of the bright lights of the NBA.
But of course, there were the few who have separated themselves from the pack. These are the guys who have not only put up big performances in the Summer League, but have also shown great promise as future cornerstone players.
- Justin Jackson (Sacramento Kings)
- Jakob Poeltl (Toronto Raptors)
- Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
- Kyle Kuzma (Los Angles Lakers)
5. Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia 76ers)
Markelle Fultz may have not played much in the Summer League due to a lower body injury, but he did play long enough to show why he deserved to be the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Elusive speed, quick handles, and not a bad shot, Fultz should have all of Philly excited for its future. The injury does not seem serious, and he may not need to miss his entire rookie season to heal this one. Although not the conventional point guard like the player picked after him, Fultz is an exciting young talent with a score first mentality.
4. Dennis Smith Jr. (Dallas Mavericks)
This kid is an absolute freak – the athleticism is off the charts.
After five games with the Dallas Mavericks, the NC State alum showed off why there is so much hype attached to his name. The kid can jump out of a gym and may have had the most athletic missed dunk in NBA Summer League history.
Attitude will be the challenge for the Dallas Mavericks to overcome, but with the NBA competition exceeding Smith’s college experience, Smith will have to keep that in mind as he continues to grow as a basketball player and a person.
The guy is 19-years of age, and maturity, for the most part, comes with age. But, I mean, look at this:
3. Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Billed as the most polished scorer in the 2017 NBA Draft, Tatum did not disappoint.
Averaging just under 18-points a game in his three games of action, Tatum demonstrated his ability to score from the mid range, while stepping out the three-point as well as scoring at the net. The Duke Blue Devils product may struggle at first with guarding NBA players at his position, but his offensive skillset will keep him on the floor consistently.
With the pressure of coming up big after the Celtics traded off their first overall pick, Tatum shook all of the distractions off, and showed the Celtics that they have found a potential future star in him. Tatum physical gifts were seen as his body was far more advanced to that of other rookies in his class, but to compete in the NBA, getting stronger will be the next step for the 6’8” forward.
But this is all part of the process!
2. De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings)
Mark my words, the Sacramento Kings have found themselves a franchise gem and unlike DeMarcus Cousins, he has the makeup to match his high ceiling and talents.
Despite averaging only 11.8-points per game in his four games of Summer League action, Fox immediately showed off what made him such an attractive prospect at the University of Kentucky. The kid is an absolute blur, he has incredible body control for his age and the ability to beat any defender of the dribble. The shot will come in time, but until then, Fox has shown that he can already break down defenses with his agility and explosive first step, while finishing well at the rim. Defensively, his length, speed, and quick hands will most definitely play on the NBA level immediately.
The Kings got themselves a cornerstone player, but at the same time, it’s the Kings – they can find a way to mess this up.
1. Lonzo Ball (Los Angeles Lakers)
Isn’t it remarkable?
There has not been a rookie with more pressure to succeed since LeBron James. Lonzo Ball, quite possibly the most controversial rookie in NBA history, came into NBA Summer League with the pressure of the world on his shoulder – and in game one – he collapsed in front of the bright lights.
Now, he’s atop this list. Not only has he rebounded from a horrific first game, he overcame waves of media hoopla to ball out on the floor for the Los Angeles Lakers. Also, it’s easy to forget, but Ball is only 19-years of age – he is still a kid.
A few triple-doubles later, he has led the Lakers into the Semifinals of NBA Summer League, in the absence of sophomore sensation, Brandon Ingram. Most importantly, his gifts were on full display and were unrivaled.
His ability to find the open man, push the tempo, and perform highlight outlet passes were incredible to watch, and the Lakers most definitely have found themselves their point guard of the future. He may very quickly become the game’s best passer and as the young Lakers keep growing, and put shooters around Ball, watch out!