“It’s only Summer League.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase. It’s a correct statement when saying that you can’t evaluate certain players’ performances because of the level of competition. But while it might be “only Summer League” for some, it’s so much more for these players. This is the chance for the unknown players around the league to get their shot to impress an NBA team.
D-League players don’t make that much money. Last year, they could make anywhere from $13,000-$25,000 per season excluding bonuses according to Marc Stein. That’s not much whatsoever and is an extremely small fraction of what they could be earning in the NBA, as we know.
There are some rules I absolutely love in the Summer League. I love the idea of a sudden death 2OT. It’s extremely exciting and gives teams a chance to see how these young players perform under extreme pressure. I also love the short commercial breaks, timeouts, and halftime. It speeds up the late game action and, again, makes it extremely fun to watch. While these rules make the game more enjoyable for the players and the fans, there’s a rule that just doesn’t make sense at all.
A normal NBA game allows each player 6 fouls until they are disqualified, and in a college game, it’s 5 fouls. So, why in the world would Summer League have it as 10 fouls?
Summer League is not only about giving younger players a chance to impress NBA teams. It’s also a chance for them to learn the game. Allowing them to simply commit a foul to stop a player from scoring instead of forcing them to learn the game and slide their feet and stay vertical is a big problem. I get that it helps the entertainment aspect as you won’t see Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell, two of the players that most people tune in for, foul-out in a given game. But, that isn’t the point.
For example, yesterday the Knicks and 76ers faced off which meant it would be the first meeting between the #3 and #4 overall picks, Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis. Okafor absolutely dominated Porzingis in the post and it led to 7 personal fouls on the part of Porzingis in only 21 minutes of action.
Below is an example of one of those plays where Porzingis grabs Okafor after he is bullied in the post to disallow him from converting the bucket.
In an NBA game, he might not be afforded the chance to simply hack Okafor, but because it’s Summer League, he is allowed to do just that.
I understand that Summer League is only a couple days long, so any affect that it has on a player shouldn’t last too long. But, who knows, maybe it does. Why a player must go from 5 fouls permitted in college, to 10 in Summer League, and then back down to 6 in the NBA is beyond me.
Consistency is what these young players need and it is what will help them develop quicker. Yes while this is a very small issue in the grand scheme of things, it’s one rule that should be changed to better reflect what they would experience in the pros.