5-on-5: Summer season league’s greatest surprises, disappointments and greatest ‘veterans’


Which rookies and veterans have shocked probably the most after one week of summer time league basketball? Who’ve been the largest disappointments?

Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs have had stellar performances of their summer time league debuts, however are they worthy of being named the MVP of Vegas? Gamers like Payton Pritchard and Immanuel Quickley have impressed as “veterans” to this point, however are they prepared to interrupt out and have a standout common season? And with non-lottery picks like Alperen Sengun and Josh Christopher exhibiting actual promise, do the Houston Rockets have one of the best assortment of rookies within the 2021 class?

Our specialists reply the massive questions and decide their 2021 MGM Resorts NBA Summer season League MVP after the primary week of motion in Las Vegas.

1. What has been the largest shock up to now?

Tim Bontemps: Whereas Jalen Johnson slipped to No. 20 in final month’s NBA Draft, it wasn’t way back that he was one of the extremely touted recruits within the nation. And thru the primary few days in Las Vegas, it seems the Atlanta Hawks would possibly’ve landed themselves a steal. Johnson was averaging 17.0 factors, 10.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks by means of his first three video games, and shot over 56% from the sphere, flashing some spectacular abilities within the open court docket. He additionally has landed in a terrific scenario, the place he’ll play for a coach in Nate McMillan who will make him earn minutes, and on a workforce the place he might be introduced alongside slowly.

Andrew Lopez: When it was introduced that LiAngelo Ball was going to be on the Charlotte Hornets‘ summer time league roster, some may need scoffed at the concept that he was taking a possibility away from another person. To this point in three video games, he has proved that he is benefiting from his possibilities. Ball has averaged 11.3 factors whereas capturing 44.4% from 3-point vary as he appears to say himself as somebody who may earn a coaching camp invitation, reasonably than somebody who obtained it on his final identify alone.

Kevin Pelton: The largest shock is that Kenneth Faried is right here enjoying for the Portland Trail Blazers after two full seasons out of the league. He final performed an NBA sport in April 2019 and is averaging 8.3 rebounds in summer time league to this point.

Mike Schmitz: Whereas it will not come as a shock to those that watched him at West Virginia, the New York Knicks have one thing in No. 36 decide Miles McBride, averaging 15.0 factors, 5.0 rebounds and a couple of.7 assists on 63.6% from 2 and 61.5% from 3 by means of three summer time league video games. McBride may shortly turn out to be a Tom Thibodeau favourite along with his relentless on-ball protection, probably incomes himself a spot within the rotation. With a 6-foot-9 wingspan, McBride can examine both backcourt spot and has turned himself right into a dependable ground spacer who would not want the ball to make an influence. That versatility ought to work alongside core items Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker.

Royce Younger: The thrill round Alperen Sengun on draft evening was that he’s a lottery-level expertise, and to this point he has regarded the half. He has proven a excessive offensive ability stage, high quality rebounding and even a knack for weakside shot-blocking. Maybe he fell to the Rockets at No. 16 — after they moved up in a cope with Oklahoma Metropolis to get him — due to considerations about his match within the fashionable NBA as a extra conventional large, however Sengun has a refined sport and may very well be a strong rotation piece this season for Houston.

2. What has been the largest disappointment up to now?

Lopez: No Elam Ending. Two double-overtime video games on Wednesday (Miami-Memphis and Utah-Dallas) and one other on Thursday (Brooklyn-Washington) had been determined in a sudden-death scenario. Miami received when Max Strus drained a 3-pointer on the primary play of double OT, Utah received after Trent Forrest drew a foul on the primary possession. Forrest missed the primary free throw, including slightly suspense, earlier than flattening the subsequent one and waving goodbye to the Mavericks’ bench, in summer time league! Cameron Thomas obtained Brooklyn the victory with a one-legged, shot-clock-beating runner for 3. Let’s add pleasure to those video games with the Elam Ending and get game-winning pictures each time.

Bontemps: This has nothing to do with him as a participant, however it was disappointing that Thunder guard Josh Giddey performed solely a pair minutes earlier than being shut down with an ankle damage. Giddey was one of the fascinating gamers in the course of the pre-draft course of, with a bunch of the groups within the mid-to-late lottery fascinated about him — solely to wind up going No. 6 to Oklahoma Metropolis. Will probably be enjoyable to look at Giddey play alongside newly prolonged Shai Gilgeous-Alexander subsequent season. It is simply too dangerous we could not see him play right here.

Pelton: It has been a tough couple video games for Cole Anthony, who has shot 5-of-25 from the sphere and handed out simply six assists enjoying alongside No. 5 decide Jalen Suggs within the Orlando Magic backcourt. With the addition of Suggs and return of Markelle Fultz, Anthony may discover his enjoying time squeezed after he began in 34 video games and averaged 27.1 minutes as a rookie.

Schmitz: Watching Cade Cunningham stand within the nook whereas both Killian Hayes or Saben Lee persistently began and ended possessions was maddening. Utilizing Cunningham as solely a part-time ball handler is stripping him of one in every of his greatest abilities (passing) whereas making him look bizarre. The scenario jogs my memory of when the Dallas Mavericks tried their greatest to make the Luka DoncicDennis Smith Jr. pairing work earlier than finally giving Doncic the keys. With the ball-dominant Hayes clearly not the extent of participant the Pistons had been hoping for after they surprisingly chosen him seventh total, Detroit can be smart to shift Hayes to a bench playmaker function, utilizing Cunningham because the lead initiator with the beginning unit.

Younger: Josh Giddey. Not due to something he has accomplished, however as a result of we’ve not had the chance to see what he can do. He performed solely 5 minutes in his summer time league debut, throwing down a pleasant two-handed dunk off a slick crossover transfer, however then tweaked his ankle and hasn’t performed since. It is doubtless he’ll return, however for now, I am simply disenchanted we have now been in a position to see extra.

3. Who has been the summer time league MVP to this point?

Younger: Jalen Suggs. There’s a perception that Suggs is a tradition changer, a participant who can carry up a franchise along with his polished professionalism and hard-charging aggressive motor. To this point in Orlando, that has been the case. He appears just like the form of participant who needs to do all of it, from rebounding and defending to scoring, passing and main. There are some Russell Westbrook vibes to Suggs’ make-up, and Orlando must be thrilled that he fell to them at No. 5.

Lopez: The No. 2 decide within the 2021 NBA draft goes to place up some large numbers for the Rockets this season, and he is exhibiting why in summer time league. Jalen Inexperienced averaged 24 factors on .514/.526/.929 splits in his first three video games, and the Rockets went 2-1. Inexperienced’s scoring potential has been on full show, and it is why he’ll be within the combine for Rookie of the 12 months, regardless of how Houston’s season performs out.

Pelton: There’s nothing extra priceless in summer time league than a reliable level guard, and Payton Pritchard has given the Celtics precisely that in their 3-0 begin, with 26 assists towards simply 4 turnovers. Pritchard has additionally shot 15-of-26 (57.7%) from 3-point vary and has even contributed 17 rebounds in two video games.

Schmitz: Max Strus edges out different standouts due to the chutzpah it took to tug up from 30 toes within the first possession of a sudden dying additional time sport. Should you rely the California Traditional, Strus has now scored 72 factors in 95 summer time league minutes, capturing 15-of-37 (40.5%) from distance. Strus is wanting like a transparent rotational participant who can distort defenses with the specter of his on-the-move capturing at 6-foot-5, 215 kilos. Strus has earned himself an uptick in minutes this season along with his play to this point.

Bontemps: Whereas he left his third sport with a hand damage, Suggs confirmed the Orlando Magic, and their followers, all the pieces they may’ve hoped for. Suggs, who dominated final yr as a freshman at Gonzaga, has the potential to lastly provoke a Magic workforce that has been in determined want of a real tentpole star to construct round. He performs with a rugged, aggressive model at each ends of the court docket that is straightforward to fall for, and he can do all of it on the court docket, as he confirmed by averaging 20 factors, 8.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals by means of these first two video games.

4. Who has been one of the best ‘veteran’ at summer time league?

Schmitz: Although he is removed from a “veteran,” Tyrese Maxey has actually caught my eye to this point. After capturing simply 30.1% from 3 as a rookie and sometimes turning down open appears in favor of downhill assaults, Maxey has been looking pull-up 3s from properly past the arc. If Maxey’s improved capturing is an indication of issues to come back, I would anticipate him to make an enormous bounce this upcoming season when you think about his already spectacular rim assaults and defensive exercise.

Younger: Patrick Williams. Williams was an underrated rookie final season, quietly enjoying strong, environment friendly basketball in a extra restricted function for the Bulls. However after averaging 21.0 factors and 9.7 rebounds in his first three video games in Vegas, he appears like a major breakout candidate for this upcoming season.

Bontemps: Payton Pritchard has regarded terrific for the Boston Celtics — who’ve additionally regarded terrific, although that ought to come to the shock of nobody, provided that half their roster is composes gamers on NBA contracts. However Pritchard, who has an opportunity to carve out a good larger function than the one he instantly stuffed as a rookie final yr with the Celtics within the wake of Kemba Walker‘s departure, has regarded like somebody who is just too good to be enjoying in summer time league — a great first step to carving out that form of function.

Lopez: As a result of there wasn’t a summer time league final season, a variety of second-year NBA gamers are making their Vegas debuts. Memphis’ Desmond Bane — who performed in 68 video games final season and averaged 9.2 factors whereas capturing 43.2% from 3 — is benefiting from his time. In his first sport, Bane dropped 32 factors whereas capturing 6-of-8 from 3. He adopted that up by hitting 3-of-5 from 3 in Recreation 2.

Pelton: Moreover Pritchard, Immanuel Quickley. Quickley hasn’t shot the ball properly to this point (7-of-29 on 3s) however has proven larger mastery of the sport than he did as a shock rookie for the New York Knicks. Quickley has handed out 23 assists towards seven turnovers in three video games and is attending to the free throw line repeatedly, the place he is 19-of-19. Quickley is just too good for this competitors.

5. What has been your greatest takeaway from the primary week?

Younger: The 5 gamers everybody thought can be fairly good do, certainly, look fairly good. Drawing main conclusions from summer time league is likely one of the seven lethal sins of the NBA, however there may be an previous adage that may decide who cannot play with a number of appears in Vegas. And up to now, there have been no purple flags with the highest 5 picks. The idea was this draft was distinctive in that it had 5 gamers certified to be a No. 1 overall-caliber participant, and up to now, that seems to be holding true.

Bontemps: The concept that summer time league was going to turn out to be a devalued a part of the NBA calendar has died a fast dying. Usman Garuba’s arrival implies that all 30 of this yr’s first-round picks are enjoying, silencing considerations that arose in 2019 when many prime prospects did not play.

Lopez: The Pelicans are going to get main minutes from rookie Trey Murphy III this season. Drafted at No. 17, Murphy had 26 factors and 9 rebounds in his debut, exhibiting off his contact from deep and his willingness to combat across the rim. He additionally had a pleasant poster for his efforts. However on a workforce that wished so as to add capturing and protection this summer time, Murphy checks each packing containers. He informed reporters one of many most important causes he wished to switch to Virginia earlier than final season was to work on his protection. Mission achieved.

Schmitz: Even when Cade Cunningham hasn’t had a real signature sport fairly but, the depth of the 2021 class has lived as much as the hype. Jalen Inexperienced is scoring from everywhere in the ground. Evan Mobley is making pull-up 3s and passing like a guard. Jalen Suggs is making profitable performs. Scottie Barnes and Jonathan Kuminga have flashed moments of brilliance. Davion Mitchell appears like a future DPOY candidate. Chris Duarte is raining 3s from deep vary. Non-lottery picks like Alperen Sengun, Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper are shining. This draft will go down as one of many all-time greats.

Pelton: The league’s future is in good palms. No person can say precisely how this yr’s rookie class will develop, however as Mike Schmitz noted earlier this week, there appears to be an unusually excessive variety of gamers who carry sturdy defensive effort and appear to be nice teammates. That bodes properly for his or her growth.

Truth or Fiction: The Rockets have one of the best rookies from this class.

Bontemps: Truth. The mix of Jalen Inexperienced and Alperen Sengun has been spectacular up to now, whereas Josh Christopher has had some moments and Usman Garuba is now again. Then once more, Houston must have probably the most expertise right here with 4 first-round picks, together with two of the highest 16 picks within the draft. However there was a powerful quantity of expertise on show this week throughout the board, as many members of this yr’s rookie class — plus the second-year guys in attendance — have had their moments.

Lopez: Fiction. Houston’s depth stands out — Inexperienced, Sengun, Usman Garuba and Christopher — however I just like the high-end potential of each Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody in Golden State. The Warriors legitimately may have picked both participant at No. 7, they usually wound up with each gamers. They’re additionally going right into a win-now scenario with the Warriors with the proper setup round each of them, surrounded by veterans who’re going to push them to profit from their contributions.

Pelton: Truth. Houston’s rookie corps obtained even stronger Thursday when No. 23 decide Garuba made his debut after finishing a buyout with Spanish energy Actual Madrid. That depth is unmatched by some other workforce.

Schmitz: Truth. Inexperienced is torching defenses with the scoring instincts of a longtime All-Star, Sengun appears just like the steal of the draft, and Christopher is greater than backing up his first-round choice. With that stated, I believe Atlanta has additionally been one of many large winners with Jalen Johnson wanting like a top-10 decide and Cooper exhibiting his unbelievable pure potential.

Younger: Fiction. The Magic’s pair of Suggs and Franz Wagner are one of the best group, up to now. Suggs has been off to a roaring begin as anticipated, whereas Wagner showcased some versatility along with his capturing and ballhandling, and even stood tall defensively towards No. 3 total decide Evan Mobley.

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