The Dime 2022 All-Summer League Team

The 2022 NBA Summer League came to an end on Sunday. While the Portland Trail Blazers emerged victorious over the New York Knicks to earn the title of Summer League champs, the NBA’s annual foray into the Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas served as an opportunity for a number of young players to flash their considerable potential ahead of the 2022-23 season.

Now that all the games have wrapped up, here are the six players who shined bright and make up our 2022 All-Summer League team.

Quentin Grimes

It is easy to see why Grimes appears to be the name at the center of a potential Knicks package for Donovan Mitchell … and why some New York fans would like to hold onto him. Second-year players are usually the best of the bunch in Las Vegas, but even by that standard, Grimes was the best player we saw at Summer League this year. After showing glimpses of being a potentially very reliable two-way player as a rookie in the Big Apple, the former University of Houston standout and 2021 first-round pick spearheaded a Knicks team that made it to the Summer League final, averaging 22.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game.

Keegan Murray

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You should obviously never put too much stock in Summer League. Having said that, the Kings came under a little bit of criticism when they passed on drafting Purdue guard Jaden Ivey so they could take Murray, the high-scoring Iowa wing who is a far more snug fit alongside De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. That criticism looks a little silly after Murray put on a show, first in California and then in Las Vegas. Murray’s polish as a scorer looked far more advanced than what you expect out of most rookies, 23.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Tari Eason

Jabari Smith was the Rockets player who attracted the most hype going into Summer League, which, he was the No. 3 overall pick and most people spent the entire Draft process thinking he was going No. 1, so that’s not exactly a surprise. But it was Eason, the team’s other first round selection and the No. 17 overall pick, who flashed in Las Vegas. The dude is just a bully, and guys at Summer League just did not seem to have any idea how to deal with Eason when he was able to impose himself, as he averaged 17.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. We expect Smith — whose game isn’t exactly conducive to a Summer League environment due to the general lack of guards who are comfortable setting up guys in the pick-and-role — to look better in the regular season. The Rockets are going to hope Eason’s Summer League form carries over to then, too.

Cam Thomas

I am a sucker for Thomas’ game — his ability to score is a legitimate blast when he gets going. He put that on display in Las Vegas, as he was given an extremely green light to be the offensive hub of Brooklyn’s Summer League squad. Thomas was second-best scorer at Summer League, as his 27.4 points per game trailed only Moses Moody of the Golden State Warriors, who averaged 27.5 but played in three fewer games. Thomas put up 31, 26, 29, 26, and 25 points in the five games Brooklyn played, and while his 27.3 percent shooting on threes left something to be desired, the man can straight up score. It was impressive in Las Vegas and even if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are on the Nets next year, we think he’s going to have chances to show off his ability to fill it up during the 2022-23 season.

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Another second-year player, Mamukelashvili latched on with the Bucks as an undrafted free agent out of Seton Hall and got some occasional run with the now-former defending champs. He played his best ball, however, with Milwaukee’s G League team, and that carried over to Summer League, where the Georgian was consistently the best big man in Vegas. With Brook Lopez getting older and the Serge Ibaka trade flopping highlighting how badly the Bucks need bodies in their frontcourt, perhaps this sort of showcase will lead to a bigger role in year two. Mamukelashvili averaged 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

Trendon Watford

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The unanimous championship game MVP has to get some love here, no? The Blazers’ run to the championship was more team-wide effort than any one player carrying them to glory, but still, the second-year man out of LSU was very solid throughout his time in the desert. Watford carved out a nice role as a rookie on a Portland team that wanted to do a one-year rebuild, and Summer League gave him a chance to both build on what he did and give himself a springboard into a bigger role on a far more competitive Portland team.

Paolo Banchero

The No. 1 overall pick only appeared in two games, so he gets docked a few points for that. Still, Banchero was magnificent when he was on the floor at Thomas and Mack. Just speaking for myself: I knew Banchero was a big guy, but seeing him in person really illustrates how impressive it is that a guy with his size has his skill set — he’s a smooth scorer whose ability to get to his spots and either score or (the really impressive thing) create for others is rare. Time will tell if Orlando really has the superstar it has long coveted since Dwight Howard was traded, but the early returns couldn’t be much more promising. Banchero averaged 20 points on 40.7 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from three with six assists, five rebounds, and 2.5 steals across his two games.

Trey Murphy III and Moses Moody

I’m going to lump these two together because they were the headliners of the “why are they here?” group of second year players at Summer League. Both only played in two games but dominated while out there, with Moody leading all scorers in Vegas with 27.5 points in those two games, and Murphy not far behind at 26.5 points. The goal of any second year guy in Summer League is to prove they’re too good to be out there and Murphy and Moody very quickly proved that to their squads and earned a rightful seat on the bench after proving to be too strong and too skilled for the desert showcase.

Santi Aldama

The Grizzlies big man averaged 16.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.5 steals in his four games and impressed with his efficiency (57.1 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three) and occasional dominance, as he would take over at times for Memphis. Aldama was not one of the second year players expected to look too good for Summer League, but he proved fairly quickly that he was better than his competition. On a Memphis team with tons of young talent, Aldama proved he deserves a spot in a crowded rotation.