Ranking the Top 50 Players at NBA Summer League

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 1, 2018

SACRAMENTO, CA - JUNE 28: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Sacramento Kings poses for a portrait on June 28, 2018 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)Marvin Bagley III
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The NBA Summer League's popularity and significance rise every year, and in 2018, there won't be any shortage of star prospects or storylines.

For the first time, all 30 teams will participate in Las Vegas in the MGM Resorts from July 6-17. But there will also be two separates leagues running before it from July 2-5, one in Sacramento and the other in Utah.

Not every high-profile rookie or sophomore is expected to participate. Notable names we left off our rankings include: Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and Lauri Markkanen.

These rankings are based on how each player is projected to perform right now and not on long-term potential.

50. Devonte Graham (Charlotte Hornets, PG)

CHARLOTTE, NC- JUNE 22:  Devonte' Graham #4 of the Charlotte Hornets poses for a portrait during the draft introductory press conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using
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The 23-year-old Graham should be ready for summer league after four seasons at Kansas. A consistent shooter and savvy pick-and-roll ball-handler, he will start to build a case for the backup point guard job in Charlotte.

49. Khem Birch (Orlando Magic, C)

Birch played well in the G League, earned a call-up and then capitalized in April with the Magic, averaging 11.3 points and 8.7 rebounds over his final six regular-season games. There isn't anything flashy about his game, though his strengths could hold value in the right role for the right team.

                           

48. TJ Leaf (Indiana Pacers, PF)

Leaf didn't have much of an opportunity as a rookie, but he's in position to make a case for himself this summer in Las Vegas. With the ability to shoot threes, attack closeouts and score or pass off the dribble, he fits the mold of a modern-day power forward.

            

47. Harry Giles III (Sacramento Kings, PF/C)

Giles is summer league's wild card, given his well-documented talent and the fact that he only played two full seasons in high school and 11.5 minutes per game in college before sitting out the entire 2017-18 NBA season. That talent gives him a pass into the top 50 over more proven players. This is a crucial season for Giles' career, and it starts this week.

                      

46. Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia 76ers, SG/SF)

The Sixers took 21-year-old Mikal Bridges and then sent him to the Phoenix Suns in a deal for Smith, who turned 19 at the beginning of June and may need time to make an impact offensively. Until then, Philadelphia will value his athleticism and energy, which translates to easy baskets off cuts and misses, as well as his defensive playmaking and pressure. He'd be top-20 if we were talking about long-term potential.

                

45. Jevon Carter (Memphis Grizzlies, PG)

Carter's ceiling could be backup point guard, but that may also be his floor. A tough defender who's made significant strides as a playmaker and pull-up shooter, Carter is the type of competitor who can impact any game in any setting in some capacity, even if he's not a star player.

        

44. Grayson Allen (Utah Jazz, SG)

The Jazz figure to use Allen early during the season. He's one of the draft's most proven shot-makers and a fine athlete, as well as a developing secondary playmaker. Allen struggles around the basket, but he should be able to quickly step in, shoot off spot-ups and screens, move the ball and leak out in transition.

          

43. Aaron Holiday (Indiana Pacers, PG)

Holiday stands out as one of the more NBA-ready rookies, having played three years at UCLA and just averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists. One of the draft's most consistent shooters, he should be good for summer-league shot-making at the least.

           

42. Chandler Hutchison (Chicago Bulls, SF)

A 20-point-per-game scorer at Boise State, Hutchison is a name to watch in summer league. Chicago seems likely to feature him to see what he can do, particularly since the main roster lacks weapons at small forward. His shooting will be a topic of conversation, but Hutchison blends strong size, athleticism and footwork, and he's made significant strides as a ball-handler getting to the rim.

         

41. Terrance Ferguson (Oklahoma City Thunder, SG/SF)

An athletic shooter, Ferguson figures to play more this season. This will be an important summer league for him to boost his confidence heading into training camp. He'll always be valued for his jump shot over his dribble, but improving on the ball as a creator should be a priority as well.

40. Dragan Bender (Phoenix Suns, PF)

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 30:  Dragan Bender #35 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Gerald Green #14 of the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloa
Bill Baptist/Getty Images

Bender wouldn't be active for summer league if he had a more convincing sophomore year. He's flashed glimpses of the versatility that drew so much attention before the 2016 draft. Bender did shoot 36.6 percent from three last season. It's the 42.6 percent mark inside the arc that's troublesome. 

          

39. Kevin Huerter (Atlanta Hawks, SF)

Huerter appears ready to come in and shoot with one of the draft's smoothest jumpers that has plenty of range. But he'll also surprise with his ability to use the dribble and create shots, both for teammates and himself.

          

38. Lonnie Walker IV (San Antonio Spurs, SG)

A fast pace is better suited for Walker, an explosive athlete who lacks a degree of on-ball polish in the half court. Look for his leaping and perimeter shot-making to fuel his offensive production early on.

         

37. Kevin Knox (New York Knicks, SF/PF)

Still 18 years old, Knox will flash his off-ball scoring versatility. We'll likely also see why he'll require patience—Knox is still a step slow defensively and needs to tighten his handles and improve his shooting consistency.

         

36. Justin Jackson (Sacramento Kings, SF)

Jackson had a few big games last year during summer league, and though his playing time fluctuated as a rookie, he should arrive in Las Vegas with more confidence—or shot-making fuel—from a year ago.

          

35. Malik Beasley (Denver Nuggets, SG)

Beasley averaged 19.4 points last summer league, and now he's just waiting for his opportunity. A three-level scorer and quick defender, Beasley is a candidate to blow up in Las Vegas as a third-year player.

         

34. Sterling Brown (Milwaukee Bucks, SF)

Brown emerged as a surprise role player for Milwaukee at different points of last season. He won't be an exciting summer-league scorer, and he's likely to be more effective playing next to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton than fringe-roster players. But he's still a top-50 name in Las Vegas for his defense, athleticism and improved shooting.

          

33. Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves, SG)

Okogie flew up draft boards after a standout showing during five-on-fives at the combine. He'll continue to shine in Las Vegas, being an athletic, aggressive scorer who puts pressure on defenses by attacking and heating up around the perimeter.

          

32. Tyler Dorsey (Atlanta Hawks, SG)

Dorsey raised his scoring average every month as a rookie, finishing his first season having averaged 16.5 points in April. A sneaky second-round pick for Atlanta in 2017, Dorsey will use summer league to validate last year's stretches of streak scoring ability.

         

            

31. Semi Ojeleye (Boston Celtics, SF/PF)

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: Semi Ojeleye #37 of the Boston Celtics celebrates during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks of Game Seven in Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 28, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Mey
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Ojeleye earned minutes as a rookie for his defensive versatility, being a strong forward who can guard bigs and stick with wings. This year he'll look to make strides as a shooter, something he should be capable of after making 73 threes his final season at SMU.

            

30. Damyean Dotson (New York Knicks, SG)

One of the bigger sleepers from 2017's class, Dotson figures to build on last year's strong summer league and flashes of scoring as a rookie. He'll lead the Knicks' squad in Vegas. Look for his role to expand later in the NBA season once New York is out of playoff contention, especially if it trades Courtney Lee.

          

29. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies, C)

If we're assessing long-term potential, Jackson could be No. 2 for his physical tools, defensive upside, three-point shooting and flashes of skill. But at 18 years old, he's too raw offensively and just averaged 5.9 fouls per 40 minutes. He'll give the Grizzlies flashes during summer league, just not consistent production.

          

28. Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee Bucks, SG)

One of the top performers during scrimmages at the NBA combine, DiVincenzo should be effective during summer league as well. He'll play to his strengths as a shot-maker, passer, pesky defender and above-the-rim athlete. He'll be active, even if he's not a volume scorer.

        

27. Cedi Osman (Cleveland Cavaliers, SG/SF)

Osman should be warmed up for summer league after playing in the World Cup European Qualifiers. He could be the only Cavalier in Las Vegas to have already earned regular-season minutes. An efficient scorer, capable shooter and smooth athlete, Osman has emerged as a legitimate asset for Cleveland.

          

26. Miles Bridges (Charlotte Hornets, SF/PF)

Explosive finishing and set-shooting remain Bridges' core strengths. He's still a work in progress as a ball-handler and shot-creator, though he'll benefit from playing the 4 with more space in summer league.

He'll join Malik Monk as the likely top options in the Hornets' offense.

         

25. Malik Monk (Charlotte Hornets, SG)

Monk came alive down the stretch last season after a mostly inefficient rookie year. With more confidence heading into season No. 2, watch out for Monk's ability to catch fire and score in bunches during summer league.

Look for him to receive more reps as an on-ball creator off ball screens, as he'd raise his value in the backcourt if he can build on his playmaking skills, particularly on those days when his jumper is off.

           

24. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Los Angeles Clippers, PG)

Gilgeous-Alexander will run the Clippers offense, which he does with poise and a clever feel for the game in terms of using his dribble, footwork and vision. He's a crafty scorer and willing passer.

Eyes will be focused on his shooting, given the limited number of jumpers he took and made at Kentucky.

          

23. Wayne Selden (Memphis, SG)

Selden averaged 22.7 points in Las Vegas last year before quietly emerging as a serviceable rotation player for the Grizzlies. He shot 40.2 percent from three during the regular season and, once again, Selden should be Memphis' top option during summer league.

          

22. Mikal Bridges (Phoenix Suns, SF)

The better players around Bridges, the more effective he'll be playing to his strengths as a shooter off spot-ups and movement. He could also be Phoenix's top defender by opening night.

He won't be doing a ton of ball-handling in the half court, even in summer league, given the strength of the Suns' projected roster. He'll start and finish the year as a three-and-D wing who can be counted on daily.

          

21. Frank Ntilikina (New York Knicks, PG/SG)

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Stats won't reflect Ntilikina's impact. He'll leave his mark with defense and passing, though it's likely he's taken a step as a three-point shot-maker and finisher in the lane.

A lack of blow-by speed and explosiveness still hints at a lower ceiling for Ntilikina, but he's on the right path toward emerging as a valuable three-and-D role player who'll occasionally create off pick-and-rolls and score when the defense opens up.

          

20. Mohamed Bamba (Orlando Magic, C)

Bank on Bamba giving Orlando both easy baskets and rim protection. The question is whether he's ready to start making outside shots and scoring out of the post.

It may be too early to feature Bamba in the offense, making it more likely he plays to his strengths as a lob target, putback threat and defensive presence. Expect double-doubles and shot-blocking, but not huge scoring outbursts.

           

19. Jonathan Isaac (Orlando Magic, PF)

Injuries have held Isaac back, but he's been effective when healthy, particularly with his defensive versatility. Between him and Bamba, Orlando's summer-league squad will be difficult to score on.

The focus for Isaac, however, will be on his offense as he looks to build on the flashes of ball-handling, pull-up scoring and spot-up shooting. He should be Orlando's featured player, whether he's ready or not.

           

18. Jordan Bell (Golden State Warriors, PF/C)

Bell's role won't change from the one he plays with the championship Warriors. He'll continue to impact games by crashing the glass, diving to the rim, moving the ball and bringing defensive activity.

He could have the urge to show there is more to his offense, however. We didn't see it as a rookie, but Bell improved his mid-range touch his final year at Oregon.

          

17. Wendell Carter Jr. (Chicago Bulls, C)

Marvin Bagley III took Carter's shots and hurt his spacing at Duke. One of the most polished and physically ready rookies, Carter will finally get to show fans and scouts what he's capable of being a featured big man.

He's rock-solid around the basket, where he uses his wide frame and long arms to rebound and score both at the rim and over the shoulder in the post. Look out for Carter the shooter—he knocked down 19 of 46 college threes and shows nice form when set.

           

16. Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers, PG/SG)

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Sexton needs to work on creating for others, but he's had a knack for scoring throughout high school, AAU and college, and it won't stop in summer league. He'll be the Cavaliers' primary ball-handler in Las Vegas, where he'll give Cleveland fans their first glimpse of his attacking style of play and competitiveness.

It will be worth monitoring how he looks as a shooter from the NBA line, given his low-arching shot and inconsistency in college. But Sexton should be a lock to produce, even if it's not efficiently.

          

15. Luke Kennard (Detroit Pistons, SG)

Back for his second summer league, Kennard should be one of the better players in Las Vegas and a breakout candidate for the 2018-19 season. He shot 41.5 percent from three as a rookie, and with more playing time, he figures to show more creativity on the ball as a scorer and playmaker.

Kennard's defense will always be the area that holds him back, but between his shooting and passing, he's still a potential starting role player, possibly in 2018-19.

            

14. Zach Collins (Portland Trail Blazers, C)

Collins had his ups and downs as a rookie, but the positives should have outweighed the negatives this early in his career. Mobile and skilled, he flashed the inside-out game consisting of shooting touch, rebounding motor and shot-blocking timing.

This year, he'll look to take another step offensively with his post footwork and jumper. Collins could personally benefit from another team signing restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic.

13. Caris LeVert (Brooklyn Nets, SG)

This is a key year for LeVert. He's yet to make the big jump, but there is certainly appeal tied to his 4.2 assists and 1.2 three-point makes per game. As a third-year player, he should establish himself as the Nets' go-to player in summer league to inspire confidence from Brooklyn's fans and coaches.

          

12. Jerome Robinson (Los Angeles Clippers, SG)

If there is a Donovan Mitchell in 2018's class, Robinson is our pick to surprise with immediate scoring firepower. He quietly averaged 24.3 points during ACC conference play, production that went under the radar because of Boston College's lousy record.

The Clippers clearly noticed, having drafted him before Michael Porter Jr. in the lottery. Robinson figures to emerge as the team's top option during summer league and ultimately one of Las Vegas' toughest covers for his ability to create and make shots from all over.

          

11. OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors, SF/PF)

One of the toughest, most versatile young defenders in the league, Anunoby also shot 60.4 percent inside the arc last year and 37.1 percent from three.

He'll never be a creative scorer or playmaker—and the summer-league setting, alongside fringe-roster players—may not be best suited for him. But Anunoby has the chance to become a regular starter for one of the NBA's best teams. He's on track to emerge as a high-end, three-and-D role player under the same umbrella as Trevor Ariza.

           

10. Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn Nets, C)

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

After playing 20.0 minutes a game as a rookie, Allen should have plenty of confidence entering summer league. He shot 58.9 percent and blocked 1.2 shots a game, using his length and mobility to win battles around the rim at both ends of the floor.

Chances are, he'll have a brighter green light to take mid-range jumpers and hook shots during summer league.

           

9. Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat, C)

Adebayo began to cut into Hassan Whiteside's minutes last year, as he gave the Heat some defensive switchability and more flashes of offense than he showed at Kentucky. He's a breakout candidate—who could also make Whiteside expendable as a trade chip—if he's able to continue building on his post footwork and mid-range touch.

In the meantime, the easy-basket opportunities will find him in transition, off guard penetration and out of pick-and-rolls. It's reasonable to expect a more polished scorer in the half court as well.

          

8. Josh Hart (Los Angeles Lakers, SG/SF)

Hart finished his rookie season on a high, having averaged 23.8 points over the Lakers' final four games. For the year, he managed to shoot 55.1 percent from two and 39.6 percent from three, playing mistake-free ball (1.2 turnovers per 36 minutes) as an efficient scorer within L.A.'s offense.

Hart may never be a go-to player who demands the ball at the end of a shot clock, but otherwise he's well-rounded. Having already proved himself, there shouldn't be any reason for Hart to play more than a couple of games in Las Vegas.

           

7. John Collins (Atlanta Hawks, PF/C)

A Second-Team All Rookie, Collins averaged 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 24.1 minutes. But it's the 57.6 percent field-goal mark that highlights his scoring efficiency, which is fueled by explosive leaping around the basket.

A strong finisher, Collins earns himself easy baskets by diving, cutting and rolling to the hoop off ball screens. With No. 5 pick Trae Young at the point, Collins should be even more effective and active in Las Vegas. Look for the coaching staff to give him the ball and reps as more of a feature post option from the post and short corners.

          

6. Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks, PG)

Young will enjoy the faster pace and extra space, as well as having Collins and Huerter as teammates in summer league.

He suddenly has an elite lob-catching athlete and a sharpshooter around him in Atlanta. Shifty and quick with handles, vision and passing skills, Young remains a good bet to lead summer league in assists.

He may not shoot a high percentage, but assuming he has plenty of freedom, Young is bound to catch fire during stretches throughout games and pour in points with his high-level shot-making.

          

5. De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings, PG)

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Expectations are high for Fox entering the season. He created excitement last year with the flashes of coast-to-coast takes, blow-by penetration and encouraging shooting improvement from his time at Kentucky.

As a sophomore, he'll look to make strides across the board, from his jumper and finishing to his playmaking. Talent-wise, it's clear that Fox has a chance to be a cornerstone-caliber point guard, thanks to his athleticism, speed and handles. His skills will just have to catch up a little more each year.

          

4. Dennis Smith Jr. (Dallas Mavericks, PG)

It wouldn't be surprising if Smith only plays one or two games, since the coaches and league already know what he can do. He averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 assists as a rookie, flashing the explosive athleticism, scoring and playmaking that drives exciting potential at the position.

He'll want to tighten his shot selection and improve his shooting in year No. 2. Smith finished with a 39.5 percent mark from the floor and 31.3 percent clip from three. But the inefficiency was expected after one year in college, playing the NBA's most competitive position. The game should slow down for Smith as a sophomore with Dallas, especially if the Mavericks strengthen their roster in free agency.

          

3. Josh Jackson (Phoenix Suns, SF)

Jackson could make a brief appearance in summer league to start building chemistry with his new teammates.

After a rough start last year, he started to find a rhythm just before the All-Star break. From January 28, Jackson averaged 18.5 points, and his three-ball still wasn't falling at a strong rate.

He'll be even tougher once his jumper starts dropping. A quick, explosive athlete and improved shot-creator, Jackson is poised to break out as a key scorer for Phoenix, where he may wind up playing more minutes at power forward after the addition of Mikal Bridges.

           

2. Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings, PF/C)

Bagley's quickness and bounce should play well in Las Vegas, where the pace is up and down and defense isn't the tightest. With Fox and Mason running the offense, Bagley will also have solid point guards to get him the ball in good spots.

Like he did at Duke, Bagley should roll out of bed with a double-double, just by tapping into his athleticism and motor around the basket. As the Kings' featured weapon, Bagley could have plenty of chances to show off his back-to-the-basket game, face-up driving ability and spot-up three-ball.

           

1. Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns, C)

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 22:  First overall pick, Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns speaks during a press conference at Talking Stick Resort Arena on June 22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading a
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The No. 1 pick in the draft could be summer league's toughest player to contain.

Though no longer facing student-athletes, Ayton should still be dominant physically with his size, strength, length and athleticism.

The Suns offense will run through him as a post scorer and pick-and-roll target. And when given the chance, he'll be eager to show off his shooting ability from the elbows and three-point line.

After playing power forward at Arizona and drawing criticism for his defense, coaches should be anxious to see how Ayton performs in rim protection as Phoenix's anchor.

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