As the NBA Summer League progresses, I’ve continuously heard “Why is everyone watching the Summer League this year?” Well, the answer to that is quite simple actually. The 2017 NBA Draft classes is one of the best we’ve seen since 2003 with the likes of Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.
What has gone unnoticed is the depth of the class this year. Sure, the lottery picks had star potential, but players 13-28 are really talented as well. Donovan Mitchell, Justin Jackson, and Luke Kennard are just a few.
What’s most surprising this year is the second round and undrafted players who have shined like Frank Jackson, Jordan Bell, Frank Mason, and Thomas Bryant. Below, I will compile a list players that showed they belong in the NBA.
*Note* This list only includes players that played more than one game
Dennis Smith Jr.
The name Dennis Smith Jr. has been ringing throughout the ears of NBA fans everywhere. His scintillating warm-up dunks and flashy on court play has attracted pundits. But deeper than that is the substance in his game. Smith Jr. offensive package comes with elite handles, a steady jumper, master finishing ability at the rim and passing vision of a top guard. On defense, he can get physical with guards even thought he looks smaller, plays the passing lane well and can rebound to help his bigs. Since the Mavericks don’t have a star point guard, Smith Jr. will come right in and contribute to wins.
— NBA (@NBA) July 9, 2017
Donovan Mitchell is a shooting guard from Louisville who is 6-foot-3 with a solid frame. In the NBA Summer League, he averaged 28 points, which led the entire league, and his style of play will translate directly into today’s NBA by having such a high basketball IQ. Also, he will be able to score right away in the NBA with his quick release jump shot, ball-handling ability and iso moves. On the other hand, Mitchell could struggle some on defense against other two guards. Defending the guard position will be his biggest challenge, but besides that, look for Mitchell to break out this season.
Donovan Mitchell dropped 37 PTS for the @utahjazz.
— NBA (@NBA) July 11, 2017
Even though his name is often in the media for something other than on the court play, let’s not get it confused, Lonzo Ball can ball(pun intended). He is crafty with the ball and has passing vision that you can only be born with. He’s a talented playmaker, rebounds well and is good in the passing lanes getting steals. That’s why he was named MVP of the NBA Summer League. Ball can attack the rim and finish, but his handle needs work. In the NBA, he could have trouble defending the quicker guards and getting past good defenders one on one. Also, he needs to bulk up and add size/muscle to avoid fatigue injuries. The wind-up jumper he has isn’t ideal for iso, but he can hit threes from step backs and off picks. Ball will be the perfect floor general for GM Magic Johnson and the Lakers.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 17, 2017
Troy Williams is one of them wingmen that I think every great team needs. His combination of size, speed, quickness and jumping ability make him an ideal combo small forward. Williams’ game is well-versed as he can hit open shots, attack the rim and bang down low on the glass. Meanwhile, his playmaking talent is one of the aspects he could work on. Trevor Ariza is a name that comes to mind for a play comparison and that style is what’s needed at the three if you don’t have a superstar. The Rockets are the perfect team for his game and watch out for his contributions off their bench.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) July 11, 2017
Kyle Kuzma, the former college athlete from Utah, has made a name for himself in this years NBA Summer League. Not many have heard of him before the draft, but you can bet fans will now be on the lookout. Kuzma’s game will fit in perfectly at the power forward spot in today’s NBA. He has three-point shooting touch, size plus foot speed to keep up with guards and is a crafty bucket scorer. On defense, he could struggle to defend the rim against quality fours. There’s no doubt the Lakers got a steal with the 27th pick because Kuzma has major potential. With his size, athleticism and build, he could possibly challenge Julius Randle for minutes this season.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 17, 2017
The Boston Celtics surprised most when they drafted Jayson Tatum third overall, but it could be one of the best moves made. Tatum is the prototype small forward and fills a void for them with his skill. He can score from anywhere on the court, has a quick release shot, the toughness to bang in the key and length to shoot over top. With long arms comes his ability to defend and get steals. Even with all these tools, what he will need is consistency and to continue to add muscle. Tatum has a high ceiling and can be an All-Star player one day.
— NBA (@NBA) July 12, 2017
Bryn Forbes is a name not many people know and was my sleeper performer of the NBA Summer League. He averaged 26 points and put on a show almost every game he played. Forbes is a smaller guard, but has an array of moves. He can score from anywhere, create space with iso and drive to pass for teammates. Not sure if Forbes can make the NBA with his size, but could be a legit backup point guard. Check his highlight tape out because his game is a work of art. Nothing like watching a guard of his caliber look borderline unstoppable. With his talent level, don’t be shocked if he makes a NBA roster.