NBA Summer League is a launchpad for the youngest players in the league. Typically, Summer League team consists of team’s rookies and second-year players, as well as overseas and G League players fighting to prove they’re worth a roster spot on an NBA team or another overseas franchise.
Every year, players stand out, whether they are rookies, second-year players, or guys fighting for a spot in the league. While top name rookies such as Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Darius Garland, Jarrett Culver, have all been held out of competition, other rookies have impressed. The same goes for second-year players that have been sent to Summer League. Let’s take a look at the five standout performers from Summer League.
The Pistons enlisted Brown on their SL roster to run the show for them as their point guard. He started 56 games for Detroit on the wing, but with so many wings, the Pistons want him to develop as a lead guard. For this being his first time running the show at the NBA level, Brown has blown all expectations out of the water. His passing has been elite, making the right decisions with the ball in his hands, whether he’s swinging the ball, operating out of the pick-and-roll, or slashing towards the rim.
His shooting still leaves much to be desired, as he has not been hitting outside shots at a good rate in Summer League, which is still a major hole in his game. But he’s finishing at the rim, moving the ball well, and like he did in his rookie season, is defending at a high level.
Bruce Brown drives and scores and then blocks Anfernee Simons on the other end pic.twitter.com/NVcm0h4bmM
— Aaron Johnson (@AJohnsonNBA) July 6, 2019
In his fourth game of Summer League action, Brown recorded only the second triple-double in Las Vegas Summer League history, posting 11 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Lonzo Ball is the only other player to ever complete such a feat.
Being able to play point guard will give Brown more value and a greater chance to play a role on the Pistons not only in the now but in the future as well. He’s easily been one of the best players on both sides of the floor in Summer League.
While playing behind one of the best backcourts in the NBA, Anfernee Simons spent the majority of his rookie season stuck at the end of the bench with the Portland Trail Blazers. He appeared in just 20 games and spent a meager 140 minutes on the floor.
But his play this year in Las Vegas is a plea from Simons to head coach Terry Stotts to put him on the floor more. The 6’4” point guard has been superb through three games and has dominated throughout his time on the hardwood. Scoring wise, Simons has been a challenge to contain. He’s averaged 22 points on 55.8% shooting from the field, 64.7% shooting from beyond the arc, and he hasn’t missed a free throw yet.
Anfernee Simons was ballin' 🔥
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 10, 2019
He has had growing pains with the ball in his hands, averaging under two assists while turning the ball over four times per game, but that should be expected for a kid that didn’t play college basketball and barely played during his rookie season. He has not played organized basketball against equal competition for a while, so his issue of taking care of the basketball is natural under his circumstances.
At just 20 years old, Simons is perhaps an under the radar young talent. For a team like the Blazers, who’s ceiling as a good team that isn’t good enough to win a title is apparent, Simons could help raise their potential and breakthrough said ceiling. But with Lillard and McCollum as Portland’s two best players, it will be tough for Simons to be more than a backup guard next season, unless the Blazers are willing to go super small. Simons looks to be the real deal, but he may always be an afterthought off the bench with the Blazers.
The final sophomore to hit on is Walker, who has been an explosive scorer in both the Salt Lake City and Las Vegas Summer League. He’s averaged just under 25 points per game while shooting over 55% from the field. His 3-point shot ha struggled, knocking down just 30.8% of his triples, but he’s getting to the basket, knocking down shots off the dribble, and showing his elite athleticism.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 9, 2019
Walker is part of the Spurs’ young core of him, Derrick White, and Dejoutne Murray, and he looks the part of a future real good player. He’s been finishing at the rim with both finesse and power. He’s been hitting shots off the dribble like he’s DeMar DeRozan.
If this summer has been anything close to a precursor for what Lonnie Walker can do in the most talented league in the world, then the NBA has been put on notice.
The Lonnie Walker murder tour is coming to an NBA arena near youpic.twitter.com/x05EpegGwd
— Tommy Vegas (@RealTomPetrini) July 9, 2019
Even as a rookie, Herro has made it clear that he does not belong in Summer League. He’s lead the Heat to a 3-1 record in Las Vegas and Miami went undefeated in the California Classic.
He’s averaged 19.5 points per game, and while his shooting numbers aren’t great, the shots he has made show that he is a scorer at the NBA level. He hits tough shots, he hits jumpers off the dribble, and he can quickly hit shots off the catch.
Tyler Herro On 🔥🔥🔥 in 1st Half vs TWolves, 13 Pts, 5-7 FGM! pic.twitter.com/kiRxg0PcHk
— Dawkins (@DawkinsMTA) July 10, 2019
As a playmaker, Herro has displayed a promising comfort level with the ball in his hands. He’s averaged nearly four assists per game, while making reads out of the pick-and-roll and in spurts, operating the offense. He has not been the point guard for Miami, with Kendrick Nunn running the show, and doing so at an impressive level, but as a secondary distributor, Herro has been nothing short of excellent.
Tyler Herro euro step+bounce pass 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/ARt7id203y
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) July 10, 2019
Through six games, Herro has shown he is either a very exciting young prospect for a Heat team that doesn’t really have much youth outside of Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo, or a worthy trade asset for Russell Westbrook, who has heavily been linked to Miami after it was reported the Thunder would be looking to trade him. Herro’s first six games have shown Pat Riley and company so much, that they would prefer not to include him in a deal for Westbrook.
With the loss of Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris the Celtics lost a slew of key players conducive to their success. But with the addition of Kemba Walker and a strong draft class, Boston looks to be retooling in a way that gives them a brighter future.
Through three games, their second-round pick, Carsen Edwards, has shown that his lack of size doesn’t matter, just like it didn’t at the collegiate level. He’s averaged 19 points per game on an insane 69.2% true shooting percentage. Edwards looks ready to play consistent minutes right now versus NBA talent and will be an adequate backup to Walker.
#Celtics head coach Brad Stevens on Carsen Edwards:
"Everything he does on the court is violent…We're excited about him and his play and he's another guy who played for a great, great college program — great coach in Matt Painter."#Purdue pic.twitter.com/syozYXFAmn
— Andrew Pogar (@AndrewPogar) July 10, 2019
It’s taken three Summer League games for it to look silly that Edwards slipped into the second round. If these performances are any indication, that belief will ring true for quite some time.