By Hocine LOUKKAF on 9/13/2021

As it was expected, the Summer Leagues have been the opportunity to watch excellent prospects, and not only thoses selected in the top 10. Here are the players that impressed me the most, but also those who could be the most polarizing .

Jalen Green, 6-5 SG, Houston, #2 pick
Stats : 20.3pts 4.3rbds 2as 52% 3pt on 6.3at

Green showed the kind of ability that make him one of the best scorers of this draft. The spectacular guard has displayed his elite athleticism but also a consistent outside shot with more than 50% from three. He could form a lethal backcourt with KPJ.

Jalen Johnson, 6-8 SF/PF, Atlanta, #20 pick
Stats : 19pts 9.5rbds 2as 1.2bl 41% 3pt

Some GMs may already regret to let Johnson slip to the 20th pick. The combo-forward has been dominant for Atlanta with almost 20ots 10rbds per game and great versatility. Even if he still has room to improve his shot, his 40% on 3at are a pretty good sign that he put in the work.

Chris Duarte, 6-6 SG, Indiana, #13 pick
Stats : 18.2pts 4rbds 3.8as 2.5st 1.8bl 48% 3pt on 7.2at

Although he’s already 24, Duarte has proved he could help the Pacers right away. He’s been great on defense while shooting almost 50% from three and creating opportunities for his teammates. The perfect fit for a team-oriented roster like Indiana.

Trey Murphy, 6-9 SF, New Orleans, #17 pick
Stats : 16.2pts 7rbds 2.8as 1.8st 1.2bl 44% 3pt on 6.2at

Not the most hyped prospect, Murphy has done exactly what is expected from him, defense, rebounds and great outside shooting. He’s a versatile player who won’t need the ball much to be efficient and can guard multiple positions.

Bones Hyland, 6-3 PG/SG, Denver, #26 pick
Stats : 19.2pts 3.8rbds 4.8as 40% 3pt on 8.8at

And the latest Nuggets’ steal is … Nashon “Bones” Hyland. With Murray out, Denver used a late first-round 26th pick to grab another diamond in the rough. Hyland has been the perfect scoring PG while creating for his teammates. He has displayed great confidence an could take advantage from Murray’s absence to log minutes.

Alperen Sengun, 6-9 C, Houston, #16 pick
Stats : 14.5pts 11rbds 3bl 2.8as 37.5% 3pt

Another steal during this draft, Sengun used the summer leagues to prove he was lottery-material. Often doubted for his limited size and athleticism, he responded with 11rbd and 3blks per game. He also displayed his versatility in the post and improved shooting with 37% from three.

Cam Thomas, 6-4 SG, Brooklyn, #27 pick
Stats : 27pts 36% 3pt

Cam Thomas did perfect Cam Thomas, scoring in every possible, albeit not with the best efficiency or while creating a lot for his teammates. In a team with three superstars, he could find minutes coming from the bench and has that “it” thing that could make him an elite sixth man a la Lou Williams. .

Miles McBride, 6-2 PG, New York, #36 pick
Stats : 15.2pts 3.5rbds 3.5as 50% 3pt on 6at

The third player picked by the Knicks on draft night may be their best selection. Your typical WVU alumni, McBride brought toughness and poise, all the while shooting 50% from three. He may not be the most spectacular but knows his role and add depth to the Knicks’s backcourt behind Kemba.

Jalen Suggs, 6-4 PG/SG, Orlando, #5 pick
Stats : 15.3pts 6.3rbds 2.3as 36% 3pt

Despite being a bit stuck between both guard spots, Suggs is a winner and displayed his heart and motor this summer. He defended hard, crashed the boards and was active on offense, attacking fearlessly the rim or shooting from deep while involving his teammates.

Moses Moody, 6-6 SG, Golden State, #14 pick
Stats : 16.2pts 37% 3pt on 6.8at

One of the steals of this draft, Moody played like a vet scoring almost 17pts on respectable 44% FG and 37% 3pt. He could work on being more versatile as his 2.8rbds and 1as only in 24min seem low but he already proved why he could have been picked higher.

Honorable mention :

Sharife Cooper, 5-11 PG, Atlanta, #48th pick
Stats : 14.8pts 7.2as

Cooper slipped to the 48th spot because of his size and inconsistent shooting but the doubts were dismissed from the second game as he logged 21pts and 12as against the Sixers before hitting the winning shot in the third game against the Pacers, scoring once again 21pts to go with 9as. Of course, Cooper needs to improve his defense and cut down on his turnovers but the potential is here.

James Bouknight, 6-4 SG, Charlotte, #13 pick
Stats : 16.8pts 3.8as 38% 3pt

Scoring at least 11pts in each of his four games while dishing 5as or more on two occasions, Bouknight displayed nice versatilty at the SG spot. He still needs to work on his shooting consistency as he hit only one 3pt with at least three attempts on each of his last three games.

Davion Mitchell, 6-2 PG, Sacramento, #9th pick
Stats : 10.8pts 5.8as 47% 3pt

His selection at 9, above all considering his age, drew a lot of critics. Yet, Mitchell proved why he was one of the best rookie prospect as he won co-MVP of the Vegas Summer League. He was good on offense, scoring almost 11pts on 47% 3pt while averaging 5.8as. But it’s on the other side of the court that he wrecked havoc as he destroyed Bouknight before winning his showdown against Celtics’ Pritchard with 9pts 7as 1to to 6pts 6as 6tos for the sophomore to be.

Will they reach the high expectations ?

Of course, summer leagues are not enough to judge a player and his future play during his rookie season but three major prospects’ performances deserve to be talked about.

Cade Cunnigham, 6-6 SG, Detroit, 1st pick
Stats :18.7pts 5.7rbds 1.7st 1.3bl 50% 3pt

The Oklahoma sensation was praised for his creativity and ability to play PG. Yet, he was mostly used a spot up shooter, shooting a nice 50% from three but a very weak 8/23 inside the 3pt line. Indeed, his FG % and his 2.3as for 4tos in the three games he played showcased his inability to blow by his defender, whether it is on pure athleticism or on skills. After Hayes’ disappointing rookie season, Detroit needs its 1st pick to perform at the level he’s expected to.

Evan Mobley, 7-0 PF/C, Cleveland, 3rd pick
Stats : 11.3pts 7.7rbds 3as 1.7bl

One of my favourite prospects entering the draft, I have to confess I thought Mobley was gonna display his skills and versatility during the Summer League. He did it on many occasions, averaging 7.7rbds to go with 3as and 1.7bl, but his lack of muscle and inability to hit consistently the outside shot could be obstacles  to his success. With 35% FG including 12% from three (1/8) over three games, Mobley will need to find ways to be efficient on offense. He’s a smart kid with a high motor who undoubtedly will bounce back from this first NBA experience.

Scottie Barnes, 6-8 SF/PF, Toronto, 4th pick
Stats : 15.5pts 6.8rbds 3.3as 2bl

Barnes had a pretty good summer league as he averaged 15.5pts 6.8rbds 3.3as 2bl and one steal over four games. Yet, his selection at the 4th spot raised eyebrows and the question is, will he prove to be a better player than players picked below like Suggs, Kuminga or the very similar Jalen Johnson. Barnes has often been criticized for his lack of shooting and his 41% FG and 27% from three could draw comparisons with Ben Simmons. At least, Barnes wasn’t shy shooting from three as he had eleven attempts over four games.

Jonathan Kuminga, 6-7 SF, Golden State 7th pick
Stats : 17.3pts 6.3rbds 2as 1.5st

A lot has been said about Kuminga’s play in the G-League bubble, which made him slip to the 7th spot on draft night. During the Summer League, he displayed the same kind of elite athleticism, but also the same inconsistency that allow nonetheless the Warriors to hope they can transform him into a poised player. He has terrific size and athleticism that he showcases on dunks and sometimes on defense, but his 37% FG and 28% 3pt need a lot of improvement. He aldo needs to work on his basketball IQ, understanding what his role is in a team concept. A potential boom or bust prospect that still is worth the gamble

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