Six non-rookie stars from the 2021 NBA Summer League

Six non-rookie stars from the 2021 NBA Summer League

Summer League, which inadvertently juxtaposes the two extremes of NBA basketball landscapes against one another is always an odd event. You’ll be greeted by billboard after billboard advertising Summer League, sandwiched between Billboards of Usher or David Blaine as soon as you land in Vegas.

Those billboards feature the faces of the NBA’s biggest stars: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. The NBA chose these faces to promote the event. But, you won’t see them there unless you look at the sides. Basketball fans, geeks and devotees instead flock to the desert in droves to witness players during their NBA youth: Jalen Sugs, Cade Cunningham and JalenGreen. Although they have yet to make their professional debuts, the NBA has already sold you the notion that they could one day be as famous as Curry or Durant.

The real magic happens between these extremes. You can find the most talented basketball players by looking at non-rookies. These are the ones who have experienced the NBA and have the knowledge to make the most of it.

These six people were not rookies when I was in Vegas last week.

Tyrese Maxiey, G. Philadelphia 76ers

Maxey might never live up the hype after Daryl Morey claimed that he made Maxey untouchable during James Harden’s trade negotiations. But after averaging 15.3 minutes per game as a rookie for the team with the best record in the East a year ago, Maxey looks ready for a bigger role with the 76ers.

Philly asked him not to dominate Summer League. He wasn’t able to. He was everywhere. Maxey seemed to be involved in all aspects of the offense and defense. It was not chaotic or scattered. He was present in every part of every game that he participated in.

He didn’t win, but he was physically dominant. His 26 points per games were the second best in tournament play and the highest among rookies. His field shooting percentage was 50 percent and he averaged 4.5 assists per game to avoid two turnovers.

It wasn’t something he did in isolation or with physical overpowering. It felt like he could do it with the NBA. He looked in control and got to his spots while outsmarting defense. Look at his patience during these drives. He waits for screens and defensive adjustments to adjust, then attacks, while remaining in control. This allows him to find the areas where he can cause damage.

Payton Pritchard, G, Boston Celtics

Pritchard had an ultra-solid rookie season for the Celtics a year ago, and yet I still wasn’t prepared for him to pick apart Summer League.

2020’s No. 26 pick looked like he could one day blossom into a star. The 2020 No. 26 pick seemed like he might one day become a superstar. There were two things that stood out. Pritchard, arguably the most dynamic player in Summer League, was first and foremost a playmaker. Pritchard averaged 8.8 assists per game despite only 2.5 turnovers. He displayed elite passing skills but it was his ability to maneuver the opposition’s defenses and open up opportunities for his teammates.

The range was second. The range was amazing. Pritchard scored 46.9% on eight attempts at three per game. Many of these would have been four-pointers, if the league decides to change that ridiculous rule.

Immanuel Quiley, G., New York Knicks

It’s exciting to share that Quickley performed even better than he did in Vegas during his first campaign. There’s a reason fans fell in love with the Knicks’ No. These reasons were growing as the 25th pick in last year’s NBA Draft.

Quickley was not able to accurately shoot the ball. He made only 33.7 percent field goals and 24% of his three-pointers. However, it is silly to judge poor shooting numbers over five games. It was about his looks and the reactions he got from others.

The combo guard managed to average 20.2 points per contest and only 2.4 turnovers, despite his inefficiency. Quickley, after looking somewhat disorganized during his rookie season, was not too fast. Quickley was patient and slow, but in a positive way. He showed marked improvements in his ability to understand screens and angles and how to play with timing.

Take a look at the timing of this play and how it was delayed.

Quickley seems to be on the right track in finding the balance between patience, stopping and stopping.

Obi Toppin C/F, New York Knicks

Quickley’s teammate in the lottery was also impressive. Toppin was more of a wing than a player at Summer League. This is due to his playing and how the coaches treated him following a difficult rookie season. He displayed his physicality in transition while rolling towards and getting back rebounds. Toppin averaged 8.3 boards per games to go along with 21 points.

Toppin is able to shoot three points well during his career, and he did so at Summer League. But he will always excel when he moves towards the rim. In Vegas, he found the perfect way to do that. It was sometimes as simple as spacing the floor in a wing-like fashion and then cutting when it seemed right.

Sometimes it was too fast:

Toppin has a lot to offer, even though it was a disappointing rookie year.

Gary Payton II G, Golden State Warriors

Payton won’t be on many of these lists because of his statistics. He had a low average score of 11.3 points, 3.7 assists and only played three games.

Payton isn’t like the others. Payton is 28 years old and has already had five years NBA experience. He played only 71 games in that span.

Payton has spent half a decade trying to convince teams that he is a good player for the NBA. It was difficult to see him in Vegas to come up with any alternative conclusion. While his defense is still outstanding at point guard, the rest of the game has begun to improve. Although he won’t be an offensive star, he was able to shoot 14 for 19 from the field and 6-for 6 from the three-point line. Even when he was not making plays, he dictated the offensive and proved to NBA coaches that he could be reliable as a second-unit conductor. He was a good rebounder (seven boards per match as a point guard) and displayed some impressive plays.

Payton may break camp with the Warriors. If so, somebody should call him.

Desmond Bane and G, Memphis Grizzlies

Bane was third in Summer League scoring, with 24 points per match. He did this largely because he shot 69.2 percent at three-point range.

After the No. The No. 30 pick was able to shoot 43.2 percent deep last year as a rookie, and you are automatically placed on the roster if you have made nearly 70% of your triples. These are the rules.

The most impressive thing for Grizzlies fans was how relaxed Bane seemed handling the rock in transition and at halfcourt. You can see how much offense Bane creates and how it helps his teammates.

Bane demonstrated with his performance, that he is capable of playing off the ball with Ja Morant or running the show from the bench. Morant and Bane could be a deadly duo if their ability to zigzag downhill while still moving at top speed.

Publited at Fri, 20 August 2021 14:17.24 +0000

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