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2016 NBA Summer League Standouts

Jabari Davis looks at some of the players turning heads during this year’s NBA Summer League.

Jabari Davis



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It should come as no surprise that second-year players often outperform their rookie counterparts in Summer League since they’ve already adjusted to the pace of the game and the sheer strength of the professionals on the court. With that said, this year’s crop of NBA freshmen has a couple guys that have actually played well in Summer League.

The top two picks in this year’s draft, Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons and Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, have each had moments ranging from encouraging to flat-out impressive – while still understandably adjusting to the NBA game and all of the lofty expectations placed upon them. Our Joel Brigham recently discussed whether success in Summer League actually matters in the grand scheme of things, but when you consider the scrutiny and skepticism that can come from under-performing, it’s always better to be solid.

Keeping in mind that Summer League action doesn’t quite measure up to actual NBA play, it’s still important for these players as they develop. Today, we’ll take a look at a few players who have done enough to stand out among the pack. Guys like Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris each performed well in one game, but we’ll focus on the players who’ve had at least two-to-three quality games thus far. Keep in mind, some players could have played for multiple Summer League squads in Orlando, Utah and Las Vegas and that averages are subject to change:

Trey Lyles (Utah Jazz) – Lyles showed some flashes as he played sparingly for the Jazz as a rookie, but he’s really imposed his will in Summer League action. He’s one of the tournament’s leaders in scoring (23.8 points per game) and is managing to pull down nine boards per game while knocking down 38.9 percent of his 6.5 three-point attempts per contest. Lyles is still obviously behind veteran teammate Derrick Favors on the depth chart, but don’t be surprised to see his playing time increase if he continues to have similar success moving forward.

Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns) – Booker has also been impressive (26 PPG and 6.5 APG through two games) for the Suns’ Summer League team. He started 51 games and played in a total of 76 for Phoenix in 2015-16 and was very effective while replacing injured starter Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe’s uncertainty – he has missed 90 games over the past three seasons – plus Booker’s impressive start could lead to Bledsoe being seen as somewhat expendable by this year’s trade deadline. Bledsoe is only in year three of a relatively cap-friendly deal (that averages $14.5 million per season over the next three years ), but if Booker continues to play well and they can find a suitor that would permit them to address other holes or roster concerns, don’t be shocked to see the Booker into a major role by mid-February. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Booker is that he is still just 19 years old and way head of schedule in terms of his development.

D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers) – Russell is a player who had all types of questions surrounding him heading into the offseason and particularly entering Summer League given the ups and downs he endured as a rookie. There were also many people who wondered how he would handle the intense scrutiny sure to come his way. Despite what some pundits may have you believe about Russell, he’s actually responded extremely well. Moving past the drama of last season, Russell has clearly put in work on his body and it’s already evident. He looks comfortable and even more certain of himself and his skills than before (which is saying a lot given the fact that he had a ton of confidence as a rookie). Perhaps, we still “ain’t seen nothin’ yet” when it comes to his ceiling, but the Lakers would certainly like to see more of this when players report to camp this fall. If Russell can maintain this momentum and take the next step as a player – as he appears to be doing as a professional – then the Lakers will be in business.

Norman Powell (Toronto Raptors) – Powell only played in 49 games for the Raptors last season, but he saw his playing time increase throughout the second half of the season and then had some very strong moments during Toronto’s postseason run. Swingman Terrence Ross still hasn’t been consistent enough to solidify his place in the rotation, so it will be interesting to see if Powell can ride this wave of confidence into training camp and solidify himself as one of the first perimeter players off the bench for the Raptors once 2016-17 kicks off.

Kris Dunn (Minnesota Timberwolves) – Dunn was labeled as one of the most NBA-ready players in this draft class and he has certainly lived up to that billing thus far in Summer League player. He started his Summer League action with a 27-point, five-rebound performance against Emmanuel Mudiay and the Denver Nuggets. Then, he followed up that outing with another impressive 21-point, nine-rebound and four-assist game a couple nights later against the Toronto Raptors. Dunn is currently third among all players in points per game (behind only Lyles and Booker) and first among rookies.

Honorable Mentions – Thon Maker (Milwaukee Bucks) deserves credit for putting up back-to-back double-doubles to kick things off for Milwaukee’s team. The aforementioned Mudiay (Denver Nuggets) also gets props for one the game he played (against Dunn) since he had 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists.


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Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders



From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to:


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#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz



With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler



What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:


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