Top Players from Las Vegas Summer League
The finals of the Las Vegas Summer League take place Monday night. (Brenton Petty: WFUV Sports)
While the final days of the Las Vegas NBA Summer League are coming to an end, many NBA hopefuls are sticking to the Vegas saying of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” as they lay everything out on the court, hoping to make that one last impression to NBA general managers.
First we take a look at the top performers, and the MVP from an exciting 10 days of great summer basketball:
D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers
Coming into his second year, he started off with a bang in summer league play, posting nearly 22 points per game, while also grabbing six rebounds a contest and dishing out four assists per game. The stat in which Lakers fans should be excited about, though, is the 47% overall field goal percentage and the efficiency of his scoring. After what most people called a disappointing rookie season, filled with turnovers and bad decisions (with cell phones), it looks like he is starting to find his way in the league.
“This is a process, trust the process,” he told ESPN’s J.A. Adande.
After an impressive summer league outing, it seems that process could be very much working for him. Lakers fans get ready for a lot of ice in your veins this season.
Tyler Ulis, Phoenix Suns
Standing at only 5-foot-10, this second round pick in the NBA draft came to Vegas to play. After believing he should have gone earlier in the draft, he came to the summer league with a chip on his shoulder, wanting to prove all of the doubters wrong and show that he could not only go up against NBA competition, but that he could dominate as well. And that is exactly what he did. He led the summer league in assist-to-turnover ratio with 31 assists and only seven turnovers, and was second in the league averaging over three steals per game.
“He can create a lot of problems,” summer league head coach Nate Bjorkgren said.
Ulis also didn’t let his second round status make him shy away from the moment either, as in Saturday’s game he hit the game-winner to send the Suns to the semifinals. Expect to see a lot of the same during the season from this guy, as he will only continue to get better.
Patrick McCraw, Golden State Warriors
This will be a name you will know after seasons end, because this young man can most certainly hoop. McCraw, who stands at 6-foot-7 and plays point guard out of UNLV, made the most out of his opportunity at the Vegas summer league. After being picked 38th in this year’s draft, his rights were traded to the Warriors from the Milwaukee Bucks on draft night, and since, he’s been seen as a steal.
“People are going to be sorry they didn’t draft him,” Warriors executive board member Jerry West said shortly after the draft.
And to serve West right, McCraw has lived up to the hype. Averaging close to 16 points a game, while leading his team in scoring in a majority of the games has all been great, but the key stat that Warriors fans are going to love is his three-point ability. In his game against Toronto, McCraw hit 5 threes, while also hitting at least one in each other summer league game.
Many compare him to Golden State’s own Shaun Livingston, because of his size and ability to run the point guard position. The added bonus is this young fella can stretch the floor unlike Livingston. Anticipate McCraw to crack into the Warriors rotation and possibly play a key role down the stretch in 2017.
MVP, Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P, expect to hear this chant in the next few years while this young man is at the free throw line in Philly.
Simmons, the #1 pick out of LSU showed flashes in college of what he could be at the next level, but no one knew exactly what this could be. In Vegas, fans, coaches and players around the league were all able to see how special this 6-foot-10 power forward really is. During his four games, Simmons averaged 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. Even though his numbers don’t speak for the dominance he showed on the court, Simmons believed this time was helpful for him as he was able to acquaint with his new teammates.
“I’ve learned everyone’s game pretty well over the past two weeks,” Simmons said. “We have grown a lot from Utah to here.”
Growth is the last thing 76ers fans want to hear, as the 76ers have lost at least 63 games the last three years. With the addition of Simmons, things will be much different. He commands the offense and has eyes in the back of his head, seemingly seeing plays for teammates before they even happen. Will Philly make the playoffs next year? No, but with Simmons they are moving in the right direction and have a franchise piece they can now build around for years to come.
The semi-finals of the Las Vegas Summer League tip-off tonight at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., with the winners meeting Monday night at 9 p.m. for the championship.