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NBA PM: Second-Round Standouts at Summer League

Which second-round picks played well during Summer League? Cody Taylor shares who impressed him.

Cody Taylor



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Much of the hype coming into the Summer League is often placed upon some of the top picks from that year’s draft class. Coming into this year’s Summer League, players like Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield (among others) were some of the players who received the most attention.

There was some curiosity surrounding other players scattered throughout the first round as well. While it’s the first-round picks that grab most of the headlines, we tend to forget about some of the second-round players. But there were a number of second-round guys this year who made a name for themselves.

However, it’s important to note that great a Summer League campaign doesn’t necessarily translate into NBA success. Some players have gone on to have great careers, others have experienced some success and others were out of the league altogether.

Basketball Insiders’ Joel Brigham recently looked at the past 10 Summer League Most Valuable Players and how they performed once they made it to the NBA. Past MVP winners included John Wall, Damian Lillard and Blake Griffin, but also included Josh Selby, Glen Rice Jr. and Nate Robinson.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best performances by players selected in the second-round of this year’s draft. Out of the 30 possible second-round picks, only five players didn’t appear in Summer League this year due to various reasons. Here are some of the best performers (in no particular order):

Abdel Nader, Boston Celtics (58th pick):

5 Games Played: 12.8 points (48% 3PT) and 3.2 rebounds in five games in Las Vegas

After third overall pick Jaylen Brown, it can be argued that Nader was the best draft pick for the Celtics. The team had five total draft picks suit up for them in Summer League and Nader certainly looked to be one of the best. His 12.8 points per game were fourth-most among all second-round picks. He can do a number of different things on the floor. He showed the ability to drive to the rim and finish with a dunk or layup and proved to be a pest on defense as well.

Perhaps the best part of his game is his shooting. In five games in Las Vegas, he shot 48 percent from three-point range. He turned in his best game of Summer League on Friday after recording 16 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range. He seemed to shoot better the more comfortable he got playing. For a guy drafted with the 58th overall pick in the draft, he certainly performed well and could compete for a roster spot next season.

Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Lakers (32nd pick):

5 Games Played: 10.6 points (64% FG), 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks

It seemed as though everyone was surprised with how the Lakers’ 32nd overall pick performed during Summer League. While D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram were both busy grabbing headlines, they were both quick to deflect some of the attention to Zubac. Russell said he saw flashes of Marc Gasol when he played with Zubac and Ingram was surprised with how well he played. The argument can be made that Zubac was the Lakers’ best all-around player in Vegas.

He averaged 10.6 points in five games for the Lakers and shot 64 percent from the field. He also had 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, which ranked second among all players in Vegas. He flashed a decent mid-range shot and was able to work in the paint well. His long length showed as well after changing a number of different shots defensively. His best game of the week came on Friday, as he had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.

Tyler Ulis, Phoenix Suns (34th pick):

6 Games Played: 14.5 points, 6.3 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.5 rebounds per game

One of the biggest surprises of this year’s draft was Ulis dropping to the second round. After being named the SEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Tournament MVP at Kentucky, it seemed likely Ulis would be taken in the first round. After watching Ulis play in Vegas, it seems like the Suns may have found the steal of the draft by taking him with the 34th pick.

Ulis showed in six games with the Suns the ability to run an offense and create shots for teammates. His 6.3 assists ranked third-highest among all players in Vegas. At just 5’10, he didn’t shy away from driving in the paint and finishing around bigger defenders. His mid-range shot seemed to be working for much of the week, and he even hit a huge game-winning three-pointer. He was named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team for his efforts.

Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans (33rd pick):

5 Games Played: 10.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game

Diallo looked great at times throughout the Pelicans’ run in Vegas. He scored in double figures in all but one game and was very active defensively. His 9.4 rebounds ranked third and 2.2 blocks were fourth among all players. Diallo’s best performance of the week came against the Utah Jazz in which he recorded 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

The Pelicans gave up the 39th and 40th picks in order to grab Diallo with the 33rd pick and it seemed to be a good move. Some projected Diallo to be a first-round talent, and he could end up being a steal for the Pelicans when it’s all said and done. He flashed a number of different post moves and could become a real option for the Pelicans once he continues to develop his body more.

Kay Felder, Cleveland Cavaliers (54th pick):

7 Games Played: 15.3 points, 3.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game

Felder did all that he could do during Summer League to prove he’s worthy of the backup point guard spot behind Kyrie Irving. His 15.3 points per game were second-highest among all second-round picks. He turned in three games in which he scored at least 20 points. Though Felder isn’t the greatest three-point shooter, he found other ways to score.

He draws comparisons to Isaiah Thomas given his height and ability to show bursts of quickness on the floor. The Cavaliers paid $2.4 million to the Atlanta Hawks for the 54th draft pick, so that could mean Felder has a real chance to make the Cavaliers’ roster. They found a diamond in the rough in Matthew Dellavedova, and Felder could be the next one to replace him.

Patrick McCaw, Golden State Warriors (38th pick):

5 Games Played: 15.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and two steals per game

Playing in a gym that he was very familiar with, McCaw put on a show for much of Summer League. The former UNLV product turned a lot of heads with his strong play – averaging 15.8 points per game, tops for all second-round players.

McCaw went off in his final game of the week on Thursday, scoring 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field while also chipping in three steals, two rebounds and an assist. In addition, he converted on 5-of-11 shots from three-point range. McCaw nearly led the Warriors in scoring each game and definitely was a positive for the team. With so many veteran players on the Warriors’ roster, McCaw will certainly face tough competition to make the roster, but he definitely proved that he deserves a chance.


With so much hype coming into this year’s Summer League around Simmons, Ingram, Dunn and others, it’s easy to lose track of some of the players that were drafted in the second round.

These guys did a great job of making a name for themselves due to their strong play during Summer League. As second-round draft picks, they all face challenges in making their respective teams’ final rosters, but they certainly helped their cause this summer.

Did we leave anyone out? Who else would you have added? Hit the comments below and let us know!


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NBA Daily: Jaylen Brown Set To Return For Celtics

The Celtics finally got some good news on Thursday. Jaylen Brown’s return is imminent.

Moke Hamilton



Finally, some good news for the Boston Celtics.

Jaylen Brown is set to return to action.

Brown has been M.I.A. since sustaining a concussion during the team’s 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves back on March 8, but has traveled with the team to Portland and is expecting to return to the lineup on Sunday when the Celtics do battle with the Sacramento Kings.

As the Celts gear up for a playoff run, which they hope will result in them ending LeBron James’ reign atop the Eastern Conference, they’ve picked the wrong time to run into injury issues. Along with Brown, both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart have each been conspicuous by their absences, and the team could certainly use all of their pieces as they attempt to enter the postseason on a high note.

Fortunately for Boston, with the Toronto Raptors leading them by 4.5 games in the standings and the Celts ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a comfortable six games, Brad Stevens’ team is enjoying the rare situation of having a playoff seed that appears to be somewhat locked in.

Still, with the team only able to go as far as its young rotation will carry it, Brown addressed the media on Thursday.

“I’m feeling a lot better. I’m just trying to hurry up and get back,” Brown said, as quoted by

“I’m tired of not playing.”

Stevens is probably tired of him not playing, too.

As we head into the month of April, playoff-bound teams and conference contenders begin to think about playing into June, while the cellar-dwellers and pretenders begin to look toward the draft lottery and free agency.

What’s funny is that in the midst of the Raptors and their rise out East, the Celtics and their dominance has become a bit of a forgotten storyline. When Gordon Hayward went down on opening night, the neophytes from the Northeast were thought to be a decent team in the making whose ceiling probably wasn’t anywhere near that of the Cavs, the Raptors and perhaps even the Washington Wizards.

Yet through it all, with the impressive growth of Jaylen Brown, impressive rookie Jayson Tatum and the rise of Irving as a franchise’s lynchpin, the Celtics stormed out the games to the tune of a a 17-3 record. What made the strong start even more impressive was the fact that the team won 16 straight games after beginning the season 0-2.

Although they weren’t able to keep up that pace, they began the month of February having gone 37-15 and turned a great many into believers. With their spry legs, team-first playing style and capable leader in Irving, the Celtics, it was thought, were a true contender in the Eastern Conference — if not the favorite.

Since then, and after experiencing injuries to some of its key cogs, the team has gone just 11-8.

In the interim, it seems that many have forgotten about the team that tantalized the Eastern Conference in the early goings of the season.

Brown’s return, in one important respect, will signify a return to Boston’s prior self.

With Marcus Smart having recently undergone surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb, he is expected to be out another five weeks or so, meaning that he’ll likely miss the beginning of the postseason.

As for Irving, although reports say that his ailing knee has no structural damage, everything the Celtics hope to accomplish begins and ends with him. FOX Sports 1’s Chris Broussard believes that it’s no slam dunk that Irving returns to action this season, but he’s in the minority. This team has simply come too far to not give themselves every opportunity to compete at the highest level, so long as doing so doesn’t jeopardize the long term health of any of the franchise’s cornerstones.

Make no mistake about it, the Celtics are far from a finished product. With their nucleus intact and flexibility preserved, they will have another offseason with which to tinker with their rotation pieces and plug away at building a champion.

But here and now, with what they’ve got, the Celtics are much closer than any of us thought they would be at this point.

And on Sunday, when Jaylen Brown rejoins his team in the lineup, to the delight of the Boston faithful, the Celtics will be that much closer.

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Winslow and the Miami HEAT Are “Believing in Each Other”

Justise Winslow discusses the all-around team effort of the Miami HEAT with Basketball Insiders.

Dennis Chambers



The days of LeBron James in Miami are over. Chris Bosh isn’t there anymore, either. No more Ray Allen or Shane Battier. Dwyane Wade is back, but he’s not “Flash” nowadays.

Actually, check the entire Miami HEAT roster; there’s no superstar. They have an All-Star in Goran Dragic, even if he was the third alternate. But during this most recent playoff push, the HEAT don’t have a worldwide household name to plaster all over billboards as a reason for their success.

With 10 games remaining until the playoffs, Miami doesn’t have a player averaging more than 33 minutes per game. Instead, they have 11 players who average at least 20 minutes a contest. Their approach is that of a deep rotation, and its led them to a 39-33 record and the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. All while the rest of the league is star-driven.

One of those key cogs to the Miami machine is third-year wing, Justise Winslow. A former top-10 pick out of Duke, Winslow is enjoying most efficient season so far for the HEAT. To him, the fact that his squad isn’t littered with names like LeBron and Steph doesn’t make a difference.

“I think our team is extremely confident in each other,” Winslow said. “I think that’s a big thing is that we all believe in each other. We play to each other’s strengths, and most importantly we’re a defensive-minded team. We hang our hats on the defensive end, and that’s really what gets us going as a team.”

Winslow isn’t exaggerating. The HEAT is seventh in the NBA in defensive rating. Head coach Erik Spoelstra harps on the team’s defensive scheme and preparation. Without a go-to scorer capable of getting the team 30 any given night, Miami needs to do their job as a collective unit on the defensive end of the floor night in and night out.

“Each night the coaching staff preaching to us that we have enough, no matter who is in the lineup,” Winslow said. “So it’s just about going out there and executing and putting together a good game of 48-minute basketball. I think our belief in each other that we have enough to get the job done is key.”

In the current NBA landscape, a lot of the playoff contenders are centered around players with big resumes and bigger names. As a result, the HEAT get lost in the shuffle of the national conversation from time to time. Their culture of togetherness and slight from the media outside of their city could make for the perfect “chip on the shoulder” recipe. Or so you would think. Winslow doesn’t believe the chatter, or lack thereof, matters any to Miami.

“We don’t pay too much attention to that,” Winslow said. ‘We’re so focused, and locked in on our team, and each other, and trying to win each game. For us, it’s about having the respect of your peers, of the other team. I think every night no matter who we have or who’s healthy, I think teams know we’re going to be a tough, physical team. Guys in this league don’t want that, you don’t want to have to play against a Miami HEAT team that’s going to be physical, that’s going to get into your body, that’s going to make you play a hard, 48-minute basketball game.”

Because of the HEAT’s brand of basketball, an 82-game season can be grueling. For Winslow, keeping his body right throughout the grind is important to him. After dealing with a few injuries last season, and ultimately being shut down for the year last January to undergo right shoulder surgery for a torn labrum, Winslow was determined to make sure he kept his body in check throughout his comeback so he would be available for a long playoff run.

While his numbers aren’t flashy, Winslow is showing improvement. His 49.3 true shooting percentage is the highest of his career, along with shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc, Winslow made strides in arguably the biggest knock against his game since coming out of college.

Because NBA players have the freedom to form partnerships with whichever companies they’d like, Winslow made the choice to strike up a partnership that he felt would not only help him off the court but more importantly, on it as well.

“My partnership with MET-Rx has been great,” Winslow said. “They’ve really helped take my game to the next level with all their nutritional supplements, and the Big 100 bar. So, for me, I’m always looking for ways to stay off my feet, but also get in the best shape possible and this was just a great way to help.”

The grind of the NBA season is also eased for playoff teams by a veteran presence. So, when the HEAT brought back franchise legend Wade at the trade deadline, their locker room suddenly had a face and feel of someone who’s been there before. A player who reached the pinnacle, with the very team that traded for him nonetheless.

Getting Wade back to Miami was crucial for the team’s playoff run down the stretch, and more importantly for Winslow, who benefited greatly from his time with the future Hall of Famer when he was fresh out of college.

“First and foremost, it was great to get him back,” Winslow said. “Just the role that he played in my career as a rookie, and everything I learned from him. But then also, just the energy and positivity that he brought to the locker room, and also the community of Miami, the city of Miami as a whole. It was a much-needed energy boost, and good vibes that he brought back for that post All-Star break push for playoffs. So, it’s just been great having him back, and it’s kind of rejuvenated the team and the locker room, and just the city in general.”

Wade is the MVP-caliber player he once was this time around, though. But that’s okay. This version of the Miami HEAT is charging toward the postseason with a team-first mentality.

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NBA Daily: The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr. is an elite prospect, but questions surrounding his back will determine his landing spot in the NBA.

Steve Kyler



The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.

While some of the highly thought of college players have made their intentions on declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft known, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr still hasn’t made his proclamation. Most people in NBA circles believe he’ll be in the 2018 NBA Draft class—you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think he’s in.

Back in November, the Missouri staff was somewhat vague and guarded about Porter’s condition until it was announced that he’d have back surgery on a couple of problematic discs in the lumbar area of his spine. The procedure is called a microdiscectomy and by all accounts was a success.

Porter missed virtually all of his college season but opted to play in the post-season for Missouri, who got eliminated fairly quickly.

There were certainly a lot of ugly things about Porter’s game. He looked out of shape, and certainly wasn’t the overwhelming dominating force he’d been in high school. Some executives applauded his decision to play, even though he wasn’t at a 100 percent. Some pointed to that fact that too many college players play it safe and that’s not always viewed positively. Almost no one Basketball Insiders spoke with was holding the less than stellar outing against him. In fact, most had far more positive things to say than negative. There was one resounding theme from the NBA executives who spoke about this situation—none of it matters until they see his medical.

Assuming Porter does as expected and hires an agent and enters the draft, the next challenge he’ll face is how open he wants to be to teams looking at drafting him.

In recent years, NBA teams have not shied away from using high draft picks on injured or recently injured players. Once a team can get a sense of how the player is recovering, they can make a value judgment.

Agents often use this information and access to the player to help steer their client to the situation they deem most favorable. While fans and outsiders often get caught up in the pick number a player ultimately lands at, more and more agents are concerned with fit, especially for a player that may need time to get back to 100 percent.

Most agents would want to steer their client to a team with favorable medical staff, a team with a proven track record of patience or more importantly, a team with the best chance at a long and fruitful career.

This won’t be good news for some team that could end up in the top 10, as it’s more likely that Porter isn’t made available to everyone. NBA executives will tell you, they can certainly draft him if they wanted to, but most teams won’t draft a player if their medical staff doesn’t sign off, and without information and access how can they do that?

There is a significant financial difference in going third in the draft ($5.47 million) and 10th ($2.964 million) – but several agents commented that the short-term money shouldn’t drive the long-term decision, especially if the player isn’t 100 percent. The fit and situation typically trump everything in these situations.

Another concept to consider is while Porter did play, there are questions about whether he’ll host a pro-day, take part in private team workouts or simply let his body of work drive his draft value.

Almost no one who spoke about this situation believed Porter would take part in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, as he’d have to subject himself to the medical testing that’s part of that event.

The common perception on Porter is he’s a top-five talent, although it seems more likely that his camp is going to try and work the process to ensure he lands in a favorable situation. That could mean he falls out of top-five selections, simply because he and his agents choose to.

There is still a lot that needs to play out for Porter, including his announcement that he will enter the draft. But given where things stand with him, it’s more likely than not he’s coming into the draft, and it’s more likely than not he’ll have a lot of questions NBA teams will want to understand before his real draft position is clear.

The NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago this year and is scheduled for May 15th. The annual Draft Combine, also in Chicago, gets underway on May 16th.

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