After two weeks of basketball that began in California and Utah, the NBA’s Summer League slate wrapped up on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Contrary to past years, there was a full slate of games on the final day and the league ran through the tape as a result. While there are many angles by which to attack the consumption of Summer League action, a lot of attention is paid to the rookie class, and that is even more true when discussing the Lottery picks.
To that end, it is time to take stock of the 14 players selected in the 2021 Lottery.
It would be fair to say that Cunningham wasn’t utterly dominant in Las Vegas, but he certainly didn’t take much off the table. The No. 1 pick averaged 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game across three appearances, and Cunningham converted a blistering 50 percent of his 8.7 three-point attempts per game. This wasn’t the friendliest style of play for Cunningham, who thrives on team defense and isn’t a hyper-athlete, but he did more than enough to impress before the Pistons shut him down for the final two games.
A hamstring issue forced Green into an early exit from Vegas, but he was tremendous during his three-game performance. Green showed his full arsenal of offensive creation, and he was difficult to stop in a Summer League setting. The only time he was at all flummoxed was against the Pistons, who blitzed him, and Green looked the part of a top-tier prospect. He averaged 20.3 points per game, shot 51 percent from the floor, and left quite an impression.
Vegas was a mixed bag for Mobley, who also played only three games. He posted solid counting stats (11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds) but shot just 35 percent from the floor and 12.5 percent from three-point range. Mobley did make some considerable flash plays defensively, though, and it has to be noted that Cleveland inexplicably arrived in the desert without a single point guard to run their offense — Isaac Okoro, who is decidedly not a point guard, was the team’s primary initiator. This was never going to be the best showcase for Mobley, all things considered, but it wasn’t a disaster by any means.
Barnes didn’t answer his biggest question in Vegas, making 27 percent of his threes on modest volume. However, he checked a lot of boxes while averaging 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, two blocks, and one steal per game. He was impressive defensively, competing at a sky-high level and flashing his communication and recovery tools, and Barnes made the plays that came to him on the offensive end. It would’ve been unrealistic to expect much more than he put on film.
The first of two top picks for Orlando, Suggs looked good before suffering a sprained thumb. That injury kept him out of the final two games, but Suggs averaged 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while getting to the rim and operating in impressive fashion on both ends. His competitiveness shined in Vegas and he made enough highlight plays to turn heads.
Giddey hurt his ankle almost immediately during the Thunder’s opening game and played five minutes during Summer League. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to see more of him, as Giddey’s passing and ability to control a game would have been fun to watch in this setting.
Kuminga was extremely impressive in Summer League. He scored 18 points in his only appearance in California, then averaged 17.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in four games in Vegas. The knock on Kuminga was with his efficiency, as he shot only 37.3 percent from the floor, but the highlight plays were there. Beyond that, he played with physicality and seemed to be quite comfortable. He remains quite raw, but Kuminga’s tools stand out in a big way.
Like Mobley, Wagner’s talents were never going to rise to the surface in Las Vegas. With that said, he still struggled. He shot 15 percent from three-point range, averaged only eight points per game and struggled to make an offensive impact. His calling card of team defense doesn’t translate to Summer League, so that isn’t a real concern, but questions about his offensive appeal in the early going won’t be answered by what he was able to do in his first professional action.
Mitchell looked good in the California Classic, averaging 16 points per game, and that carried over to Vegas as a key part of the title-winning squad from Sacramento. His on-ball defense drew the usual rave reviews, and the intensity in which he pressures opposing ball-handlers is truly fun to watch. Offensively, his three-point shooting was strong, albeit on modest volume, but his package inside the arc wasn’t quite as impressive and his mysterious free throw issues persisted. Overall, Mitchell was still an effective player and he showed the skills that made him a Lottery pick.
The question marks are still question marks. Williams shot 38 percent from the floor and 20 percent from three in Vegas, and he wasn’t able to do much beyond pull-up jumpers. Granted, he does have the pedigree and potential to make those shots consistently, but when it wasn’t working, there wasn’t a natural counter for Williams. The Grizzlies definitely know they are making a future bet, though, and the raw tools are scintillating.
Vegas was basically what was expected for Bouknight. He scored at a high level (16.8 points per game) on solid efficiency, and he had 28 percent usage. He didn’t shoot it incredibly well the entire trip, but his three-point shooting (37.5 percent) exceeded his college baseline. Defensively, it was a bit of an adventure, but the Hornets have to feel okay with that what they saw, especially through the lens of what they projected in selecting Bouknight.
Because he played two games in Utah before coming to Vegas, Primo only saw the court twice at the league’s marquee summer showcase. Primo’s efficiency (33 percent shooting in Vegas and 36 percent overall) left a lot to be desired, but that might overstate how much he actually struggled. He’s extremely young, which is worth noting, and Primo was asked to do a lot more in his early days with the Spurs than he was in college. You have to look beyond the inefficiency, but there were some encouraging signs for a player who is considered a long-term project.
Duarte was very good in Las Vegas. He shot 48.3 percent from three-point range on the way to 18.2 points per game, and Duarte was well-rounded with four rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. Given that he’s 24 years old, it wasn’t a shock to see Duarte playing an under control style that seemed to display confidence. However, it would’ve been more concerning if he struggled, and he definitely did not.
The Warriors have to feel pretty good right now. Granted, it is wise to avoid overreacting to Summer League, but both Kuminga and Moody looked the part. Moody is actually a player that might translate better to the structure of the regular season, particularly on defense and with his off-ball movement. Still, he averaged 16 points per game on reasonable efficiency. Without knowing that he fell to No. 14 overall, Moody would’ve had the feel of a selection in the top half of the Lottery.