With the excitement of the draft and the marquee player movement of free agency in the rearview mirror, basketball fans looking for reasons to be optimistic about their teams during the offseason can look no further than the youngsters playing in Las Vegas.
The 2018 NBA Summer League continued Monday with a loaded slate of 10 games, some of which feature talented rookies and potential building blocks for franchises looking to turn things around in the coming years.
With that in mind, here is a recap for how Monday's action unfolded.
Detroit Pistons 105, New Orleans Pelicans 97
Oklahoma City Thunder 92, Toronto Raptors 82
Cleveland Cavaliers 93, Indiana Pacers 88
Washington Wizards 87, Philadelphia 76ers 75
Boston Celtics 100, Charlotte Hornets 80
Dallas Mavericks 91, Golden State Warriors 71
Denver Nuggets 90, Milwaukee Bucks 83
Phoenix Suns 71, Orlando Magic 53
Minnesota Timberwolves 78, Brooklyn Nets 69
Houston Rockets 104, Los Angeles Clippers 90
Cheick Diallo Playing for Extended Role
The Detroit Pistons used a balanced attack to pour in the points in a 105-97 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, but no individual scored as many as Cheick Diallo, who had 25.
The Pelicans forward also added six rebounds, an assist and a steal while turning heads in crunch time with 14 points in the final quarter. He didn't hesitate to get out in transition when opportunities presented themselves, and he helped New Orleans on the glass on the defensive side and anchored the offense from inside the lane.
Diallo already saw his role expand last season—his second in the league—by appearing in 52 games after playing just 17 as a rookie.
He looked like an NBA veteran playing against youngsters fighting for their spots Monday but turned in the production necessary to throw his name in the fight for additional frontcourt minutes with DeMarcus Cousins no longer on the roster.
Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle figure to receive plenty of playing time alongside Anthony Davis, but the Diallo on display against Detroit will compete for a spot in the rotation.
OG Anunoby Too Talented for Summer League
The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Toronto Raptors 92-82 in a matchup between two playoff teams.
While PJ Dozier and Rashawn Thomas each scored 17 points in the win for their Thunder, one thing was clear on the other side. OG Anunoby is too talented to be playing in the Summer League for the Raptors.
Yes, the swingman has just one season of NBA experience on his resume, but he appeared in 74 regular-season games and started 62 as a critical piece of the team that earned the best record in the Eastern Conference. Typically those who have served as the primary defender on LeBron James in a playoff series aren't seeing much of the court in the Summer League.
The Indiana product finished with a game-high 19 points to go with six rebounds and wasn't shy from deep, shooting 4-of-10 from three-point range.
He shouldn't be shy on this stage either considering those he has already played on for the Raptors.
Collin Sexton Playing Like Cavaliers' Point Guard of the Future
It's going to take some time for the Cleveland Cavaliers to be a championship contender again after LeBron James departed for the Los Angeles Lakers, but they at least appear to have a point guard of the future.
Collin Sexton tallied 21 points and four assists in a 93-88 victory over the Indiana Pacers, teaming up with Cedi Osman (25 points, six assists and six rebounds) to overcome 20 points and nine boards from Indiana's T.J. Leaf.
With all due respect to Osman, all eyes were on Sexton as someone better positioned to lead the Cavaliers into the post-LeBron era, and he flashed the potential one would expect from the No. 8 overall pick in the draft.
He shot 9-of-17 from the field, was frequently darting through Indiana's defense and getting out in transition. Even with concerns about his perimeter shooting—he shot 33.6 percent in his one collegiate season at Alabama—he possesses the athleticism to make opponents pay in the open floor and the explosiveness turning the corner on a pick-and-roll to eventually anchor the offense.
So far Sexton has fit the bill as the Cavaliers' point guard of the future in Las Vegas.
Devin Robinson Playing His Way into Wizards Roster Consideration
The Washington Wizards handled the Philadelphia 76ers in an 87-75 victory thanks to impressive performances from Troy Brown (23 points and eight rebounds) and Devin Robinson (22 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field).
It was another head-turning showing from Robinson, who is largely an unknown among casual basketball fans. He tallied 24 points in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and entered Monday's contest averaging 19 points a game in the summer league.
While he appeared in just one regular-season contest for the Wizards last season and scored two points, it is difficult to ignore his production in Las Vegas.
The downside for Robinson is the fact Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre and Brown—who was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2018 draft—are all on the roster as wing forwards. Additional small forward spots are limited with a crowded backcourt featuring John Wall, Bradley Beal, Austin Rivers, Tomas Satoransky and Jodie Meeks, and it would be a stretch to assume Robinson will make the team with a strong summer.
Still, he is at least playing his way into consideration as a go-to scorer in the July offense.
Miles Bridges Flashes Much-Needed Versatility for Hornets
The Boston Celtics cruised past the Charlotte Hornets in a 100-80 victory with seven players in double figures, but much of the attention was on rookie Miles Bridges on the other side.
The Michigan State product anchored the Hornets' attack with 20 points and seven rebounds and connected on four of his 10 attempts from three-point range. It was the type of production Bridges demonstrated with the Spartans as a consensus All-American and exactly what Charlotte is looking for after he was the 12th overall pick of the draft.
While Bridges was a double-double threat every time he stepped on the floor in college, the Hornets will need him to hit threes like he did Monday when defenses collapse on Kemba Walker's penetration.
He made 37.5 percent of his triples in college and would significantly bolster the Hornets' chances at making the playoffs after missing them the last two years if Monday's performance becomes the norm during the regular season.
Jalen Brunson Flashes Blueprint to Successful NBA Career
The showdown between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors was about who didn't play as much as who did, as potential summer league headliners Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr. and Jordan Bell did not take the floor.
Dallas still prevailed 91-71 with four players in double figures, but college basketball fans surely recognized one player in particular—Jalen Brunson. The Villanova product struggled from the field at 2-of-8 for nine points but still found other ways to contribute with eight assists as a steady ball-handler and facilitator who stretched the floor with two three-pointers.
Brunson is one of the best players in recent college basketball history as a two-time national champion, Big East Player of the Year, Wooden Award winner, Naismith Award winner and consensus All-American, but he dropped into the second round of the 2018 draft.
These summer league games represent an opportunity for him to make an impression and flash some of the skills that led to so many college accolades, and his facilitating skills were on full display Monday.
If he can continue to hone his passing and hurt opposing defenses for giving him space beyond the three-point line, Brunson can earn a spot in the Dallas rotation this season.
Sterling Brown Shines as Case for Extended Role on Bucks Grows
The Denver Nuggets outlasted the Milwaukee Bucks 90-83 on Monday behind 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds from Monte Morris.
While Morris notched the victory, Milwaukee's Sterling Brown turned plenty of heads with 27 points and seven rebounds and demonstrated the type of talent that could earn him a larger role in the rotation this season.
He appeared in 54 games last season for the Bucks after he was a second-round pick in the 2017 draft and averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds a night. He also shot a solid 35.2 percent from deep and earned four starts.
Giannis Antetokounmpo's presence automatically creates open looks for teammates given the defensive attention he draws, and the efficiency Brown flashed at 11-of-18 from the field suggested he could take advantage of some of those looks.
The Bucks will give the lion's share of the wing minutes to Khris Middleton and Tony Snell as long as they are healthy, but Brown played like someone who could slide in behind them down the line.
Deandre Ayton's Offensive Game Puts Him Squarely Ahead of Mo Bamba
The Phoenix Suns beat the Orlando Magic 71-53, but it was the individual matchup down low and not the showdown between the teams at large that made this one of the most anticipated games of the summer league.
Phoenix's Deandre Ayton was the No. 1 overall pick out of Arizona, while Orlando's Mohamed Bamba was the No. 6 overall selection out of Texas.
Ayton was the better offensive player in college at 20.1 points per game behind 61.2 percent shooting compared to Bamba's 12.9 points a night behind 54.1 percent shooting, and the offensive gap was on display Monday. The Arizona product finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while the Orlando big man posted just four points and five rebounds.
Ayton looks primed to contribute right away with his offense, which could earn him Rookie of the Year consideration, but Bamba can rely on his defense. He swatted five shots Monday, outpacing his total number of points.
While Ayton had the upper hand, he was quick to point out that hasn't always been the case:
For now, Ayton is ahead of Bamba on the offensive end, which is to be expected from the No. 1 pick.
Jared Terrell Proving Timberwolves Were Right to Offer Two-Way Contract
The Minnesota Timberwolves earned a 78-69 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday behind a team-high 13 points and five rebounds from Jared Terrell and 11 points, six boards and four steals from Keita Bates-Diop.
That Terrell made waves in the contest is a testament to his ability and the Timberwolves' decision-making process after they announced Thursday they signed the Rhode Island product to a two-way contract.
Two-way contracts give teams the opportunity to sign two additional players outside of the 15-man regular-season roster and those players the chance to garner critical experience in the G League in addition to limited NBA time.
Terrell impressed during his final collegiate season, averaging 16.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game behind a sparkling 41.4 percent shooting from three-point range, and was recognized with First Team All-Atlantic 10 honors.
He flashed potential Monday as someone who can serve as a high-volume scorer in the right situation even if his outside shot went missing (1-of-5 from deep). He already proved at Rhode Island he can shoot from deep, so it is not unrealistic to expect an improvement moving forward from beyond the arc.
If he scores from closer to the basket like he did Monday and rediscovers his perimeter shot, he will reward Minnesota for taking a flier on him.
De'Anthony Melton Playing Like a Draft-Day Steal
The Houston Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 104-90 in the final game of Monday's slate behind 26 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block from De'Anthony Melton.
While he looked like a lottery talent against the Clippers, Melton was the 46th overall pick of the draft out of USC after missing the 2017-18 campaign. He averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in 2016-17 for the Trojans as someone who could do a little bit of everything but missed his sophomore season because of his connection to the FBI's college basketball probe.
Without much tape to fall back on outside of his freshman year, Melton dropped in the draft.
The Rockets were the beneficiaries of that drop, as the guard appears to be someone who can stretch the defense with his shooting (5-of-10 from deep Monday), battle for boards and find teammates when opponents collapse.