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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