With the NBA Draft over, it is time for NBA fans to focus their attention on the Summer League. With this draft featuring the most freshman ever drafted (14), there will be plenty of players with an opportunity to make an early name for themselves. The first set of games start on July 1 in Orlando with the other games being played in Las Vegas, NV from July 7-17.
Let’s take a look at five players who could stand out over the next few weeks:
(Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia 76ers, Las Vegas)
This is the obvious selection when it comes to standout players. Fultz will have all eyes on him as the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft as he joins the young and promising Sixers squad that includes Joel Embiid and fellow rookie Ben Simmons. With Fultz being the only player of the three I mentioned that will be playing, he will be one of the obvious players to watch in Las Vegas. Keep an eye out for how Fultz is able to defend during his Summer League debut. Fultz has the offensive ability because he can score in three ways; getting to the rim, a mid-range game, and a quality three point shot. Some have questioned his ability to play consistent defense over a full game so it will be interesting to see how he does in his matchups.
(Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic, Orlando)
Jonathan Isaac will be another player to keep an eye out for because we have not been able to see him play as the primary offensive option. While he was at Florida State, the Seminoles ran their offense through Dwayne Bacon and so it left Isaac as the second option. Florida State also rotated players a lot more than most teams. With the Magic picking Isaac you know they are looking at a player with some major upside. He is potentially still growing and could be an Anthony Davis situation because Isaac only grew predominantly over the past year or so. He is a guard in a big man’s body which could bode well for today’s type of basketball.
(Harry Giles, Sacramento Kings, Las Vegas)
Harry Giles was the no. 1 ranked player coming out of high school. It’s crazy what two knee injuries can do to you. Giles was selected at no. 20 overall, so he will have a guaranteed contract with the Kings. It is time for Giles to just show up and play. This is a high-risk, high-reward pick as the Kings are looking for a young big man to step in since DeMarcus Cousins is now in New Orleans. We will finally be able to see what Giles can do with more minutes under his belt. It was tough for him to get into the rotation at Duke once he came back from his injury. That won’t be the case this time around.
(Josh Hart, Los Angeles Lakers, Las Vegas)
Josh Hart has been through a lot of winning seasons at Villanova and grew into his role as the leader of the team as a four-year player. Hart has a great mid-range game that you did not see much of in the rest of this draft. He has been known as a great shooter during his tenure there and could be a nice player to bring some shooting off of the bench for Los Angeles. Averaging 1.5 steals last season, it shows that Hart can play solid defense. He is not afraid to contest shooters, which is something you love to see out of a young player. With the combination of leadership and the solid defense to go along with a polished offensive game, Hart will be a fun player to watch in the Summer League and going into the season.
(Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat, Las Vegas/Orlando)
If there is a player who will give some energy and effort to the Summer League, look no further than Miami’s first round pick Bam Adebayo. Adebayo will serve as a backup to center Hassan Whiteside for the Heat, but can also come in as a defensive threat and rebounding machine. But Bam’s basketball ability stretches into a pretty good offensive game as well. He can step out and shoot that 15-20 foot jumper that most big men in the league need to do now to receive playing time. It will be interesting to see if Bam can be a threat in the paint.