It’s actually quite remarkable that we’ve reached a point in the NBA Summer League where teams and more importantly players, are deciding to really compete in the Summer League. It’s actually becoming an event that players are looking forward to and you can see why. Of course, the point of Summer League is for players to develop and grow while being showcased to all 30 NBA teams. And while this is still true, there is another ulterior motive that’s formed, the player that’s “too good” for Summer League competition.
That’s why I decided to create the “Too Good For Summer League” or “I Shouldn’t Be At Summer League” team. Either way you go, it means the same thing. Here’s are starting-five for the Summer League “All-Star team”.
D’Angelo Russell – Point Guard
The Los Angeles Lakers guard played well in summer league last season and he’s back at it again. The flashy and crafty guard has given team’s fits so far in Vegas averaging 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. He also claims to have “ice in his veins” after hitting a spectacular buzzer-beater against Philadelphia. Bottom line, he shouldn’t be at Summer League to play, but only to help push his teammates and practice.
Devin Booker – Shooting Guard
This kid is the real deal. His ability to space the floor, hit shots from all over the court, and create scoring opportunities for his teammates is reminiscent of a perennial all-star guard. With 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game, he’s proving that he doesn’t need to be in Vegas for this.
Last season I thought Devin Booker was something special but he’s exceeded even my high expectations. The Sun’s may not be ready for the playoffs but they at least have their “number one” option for the future in Booker.
Booker can shoot jumpers from anywhere, currently averaging close to 48% from the field, which is impressive considering the amount of shots he’s taken (38).
Norman Powell – Small Forward
I understand the Raptors have DeMarre Carroll, but quite frankly I think this kid is the future. One of the most athletic basketball players I’ve ever seen, Powell is not only a physical specimen but a great basketball mind as well. His defensive intensity, creativity, and offensive aggressiveness make him an extremely scary match-up for any forward in the NBA, let alone Summer League.
Currently averaging 21 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4 assists in only 26 minutes of play, Powell has grown into a Summer League All-Star and should be removed from the tournament once he powers his next dunk down. Raptors fans should be extremely excited to see what he can do in the future.
Trey Lyles – Power Forward
Trey Lyles is arguably Summer League M.V.P. in only two games. With 28 points and 5 rebounds per game, Lyles is developing a knack for the “pace-and-space” style that everyone loves to see. He can take it to the rack or hit a corner three, just an all-around talent and athlete. Like many, I was extremely skeptical of his ability when he first came into the league. But I have come to the realization that he’s improved immensely and continued to progress as an athletic stretch-four or center.
Adding to Utah’s already stacked depth-chart, Lyles gives them versatility off the bench, and could really shine this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lyles starting or included for the Sixth Man Of The Year award depending on how things go.
Thon Maker – Center
Whether he’s 19 or 24 it doesn’t really matter, Maker is absolutely making waves in the Summer League. Creating as many points as rebounds and blocking everyone’s shot from here to China.
Another player whom I was skeptical about, Maker can really make things happen in the post. Both on offense and defense, I’ve been impressed with his natural basketball sense and creativity.
Blocking just about every shot coming from someone smaller than him, Maker has done enough to prove that he didn’t need a Summer League to get ready for the NBA season ahead.