Summer League Superstars
Most casual NBA fans ignore Summer League. It’s sometimes compared to the 4th quarter in an NFL preseason game. No stars are involved, and most of the players are just fighting for a roster spot. However, if you are reading this blog in the middle of July, you probably aren’t just a casual fan. Summer League provides the first look at how rookies play with and against NBA talent. Paying attention to the lesser known players could pay dividends during the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
Lonzo Ball, PG LAL
Lonzo is not going to fly under the radar at your fantasy draft. In fact, he may even be over-drafted based on the sheer amount of hype surrounding him. I believe he could be a solid mid-round contributor, but he’s being drafted like an early round stud. I am probably going to avoid drafting him for this very reason. That being said, he was easily the best player in Summer League. After dropping a dud in his first game, Lonzo responded to the critics with a triple double in his next game. His MVP season concluded with averages of 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks. His shooting splits of 38/24/77 were pretty terrible, but it looks like Lonzo could be a building block of a FG%/TO punt team this upcoming season.
Dennis Smith Jr, PG DAL
It looks like there is nothing that can stop Dennis Smith Jr from having a great rookie season. He showed up big in Summer League, he’ll have little competition for minutes as the Mavs starting point guard, and the entire front office is infatuated by this kid. Averages of 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.2 steals landed him a worthy spot on the Summer League First-Team. He should be in the running for Rookie of the Year, and looks like he could be a great pick up in the mid-rounds of your draft.
John Collins, PF ATL
Another member of the Summer League First-Team, Collins averaged 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 59% shooting in only 23 minutes per game. The Hawks are in full rebuild mode. The only other capable scorer is Dennis Schroder, so a lot of the scoring responsibility will fall on Collins. With perennial all-star Paul Millsap off to Denver, Collins will look to slide into the starting power forward spot and carve out a role there. He might not be an elite shot blocker, but never discount the importance of a high volume efficient scorer.