The 2019 NBA Summer League is just about over, and while some players failed to make much of an impact, others took advantage of the opportunity and put themselves on NBA teams’ radars. Here are the five biggest standouts from the 2019 Summer League.
5. Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
Boucher has been a reserve on the Golden State Warriors and Raptors over the past two seasons, so he knows what it takes to win a championship. With Kawhi Leonard gone, Boucher may have his first opportunity to play meaningful minutes. He certainly proved he was deserving of a look with his Summer League performance, as he averaged 23 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, while shooting 49% from the field. Toronto won’t be considered a Finals contender, but they have the makings of a solid team, especially on defense, and Boucher could be a big part of that.
4. Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers
The one-and-done rule has been in effect since 2006, but that hasn’t stopped some players, like Simons, from skipping college altogether. The 6’4″ guard reclassified after graduating and played a year at IMG Academy before entering the 2018 NBA Draft, where he was selected 24th overall by Portland. His learning curve was of course steep, so he spent plenty of time in the G League, but made his first career start in the final game of the regular season, as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were rested. He showed he belonged in the NBA, putting up 37 points, six rebounds, and nine assists.
An ankle injury limited him to three games, but Simons was extremely impressive in Las Vegas. He averaged 22 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists, while shooting a fantastic 56% from the floor. Simons must work to become more consistent and needs to see the floor better in order to create for others, but he has massive potential and should have an important bench role this season.
3. Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks
Robinson played a fairly significant role for the Knicks last season, starting 19 games and averaging 20.6 minutes per night. His 7.3 points per game is nothing to get excited over, but he did average 2.4 blocks and 6.4 rebounds. Robinson’s defensive potential is why New York (stupidly) did not offer him to the Pelicans in talks for Anthony Davis. Robinson will look to reward the team’s faith in him this season, and he’s off to a good start in NBA Summer League after averaging 13.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks while shooting 85% from the field. Robinson is certainly a throwback center, but that doesn’t mean he can’t succeed in today’s NBA. A player with his size and athleticism will always have a role.
2. Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs
Walker didn’t do much in his 17 games with the Spurs last season, but San Antonio is expecting big things out of him this year, and his Summer League performance is a big reason why. In two games, Walker averaged 30 points on 58% shooting. It’s a small sample size, but Walker showed why the Spurs are so high on him. He has the size and athleticism to develop into one of the league’s best offensive guards, and because he plays for Gregg Popovich, the defense will come, or he won’t play.
Walker, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Trey Lyles, and Keldon Johnson is a solid young core, and the Spurs still made the playoffs last year even after trading their franchise player. Because of players like Walker, San Antonio will continue to be a good team for years to come.
1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes have garnered the spotlight since the NBA Draft, but the Pelicans made another selection that is looking very good right now. Guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker excelled in the absence of Williamson, averaging 24.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, six assists, and 2.8 steals per game during NBA Summer League. It is of course too early to tell, but if Williamson becomes the player he is expected to be, New Orleans will be a very scary team sooner rather than later. NAW has the potential to be a great two-way guard, and will have a big role for this team whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.