Ranking the Top 50 Players at 2019 NBA Summer League

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 5, 2019

Ranking the Top 50 Players at 2019 NBA Summer League

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    The Las Vegas Summer League kicks off Friday and will feature up-and-coming NBA talent from recent drafts and the G League. 

    For young players, it's a key opportunity to get comfortable, acclimated and more confident. For those who've been around longer, summer league is a chance to make a new impression and earn a training-camp invitation.

    We ranked the top 50 participants based on their expected level of immediate impact, not their long-term potential. 

    Notable prospects who aren't expected to suit up: Ja Morant, Darius Garland, Cam Reddish, PJ Washington, Wendell Carter Jr., Collin Sexton or any of 2018's top-five picks.

Nos. 50-41

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    50. Devonte' Graham, Charlotte Hornets

    With Kemba Walker now in Boston, the Hornets will lean harder this year on Graham, who averaged 23.3 points and 3.8 threes last season in the G League. Between his pace, confident pull-up game and projected role in Las Vegas (no Malik Monk), Graham could emerge as one of summer league's more potent-scoring guards.


    49. Khyri Thomas, Detroit Pistons

    In 10 G League games, Thomas averaged 20.6 points on 50.3 percent shooting, 45.3 percent from three and 90.0 percent at the free-throw line. A three-and-D guard with some pop in transition, Thomas will be competing for a rotation spot in Detroit.


    48. Kenrich Williams, New Orleans Pelicans

    Williams will be hoping to latch on with New Orleans after making 46 appearances as an undrafted rookie. He'll make his case with role-player potential, driven by his shooting, passing, defense and high-IQ play.


    47. Shaquille Harrison, Chicago Bulls

    Harrison played 73 games last year with Chicago, and he'll play a big role on their summer league team. The smooth lefty can score as a driver or shooter and add secondary playmaking to a backcourt.


    46. Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

    The G League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Boucher should be feeling confident heading into summer league. He'll make noise in Las Vegas with a coveted mix of three-point shooting and shot-blocking.


    45. Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Okogie earned rookie minutes just by playing with energy and toughness. He'll never be a stats guy, but he won't need to be on Minnesota's roster. 


    44. Luka Samanic, San Antonio Spurs

    Samanic didn't play heavy minutes overseas, but he was a standout at the NBA combine before looking like he belonged during his first summer league action out west. He's tailor-made for today's NBA with a solid power forward frame, shooting range and the ball-handling skills to slash from behind the arc.


    43. Moritz Wagner, Washington Wizards

    Traded to the Wizards after a year with the Lakers, Wagner should be looking a bigger sophomore role and season. His size, skill level, shot-making and intensity should translate to substantial summer-league production. 


    42. Omari Spellman, Atlanta Hawks

    Spellman gave the Hawks a three-pointer per game as a rookie. In his second summer league, he should be ready to make a jump as a more polished two-point scorer off face-up and post-up moves.

    41. Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers

    Simons mostly rode the bench last year before exploding for a 37-point game in the regular-season finale. After coming straight from high school, the athletic scoring guard should return with more confidence and a higher skill level, as Portland could call his name for legitimate backup minutes this year.

Nos. 40-31

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    40. D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee Bucks

    Wilson had some promising stretches in Milwaukee last year, adding value by making open threes and defending multiple positions. He'll likely only play a few games in Vegas as he prepares for a rotation spot in Milwaukee this season. 


    39. Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs

    Johnson should put pressure on summer league defenses by attacking downhill and scoring with his signature runner around the key. If he can heat up from three, he's poised for one or two major scoring outbursts.


    38. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards

    The Wizards have a lot riding on Hachimura, who figures to continue scoring efficiently inside 17 feet by using his athleticism, face-up quickness and post touch. Eyes will continue to lock in on his jump shot and potential to eventually become a stretch 4 or wing.


    37. Kadeem Allen, New York Knicks

    On a two-way deal with the Knicks, Allen averaged 9.9 points and 4.0 assists on 47.2 percent shooting from three in 19 regular-season games. With shooting, passing and defense, he's on the verge of establishing himself as a serviceable NBA player.


    36. Mohamed Bamba, Orlando Magic

    Summer league represents an important opportunity for Bamba, as he's coming off a wasted rookie year (foot injury) and the Magic have agreed to re-sign Nikola Vucevic. As long as he's healthy enough to run, he'll impact games by using his length and mobility to finish and block shots. 


    35. Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics

    After Al Horford agreed to join the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics could be banking on Williams, whose potential was flashed in spurts during his rookie year. He should be one of summer league's most destructive finishers and rangy shot-blockers, though dunking will likely remain his only avenue for scoring.  


    34. Jerome Robinson, Los Angeles Clippers

    A 2018 lottery pick, Robinson averaged 18.9 points in the G League last season. And with Lou Williams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet and Patrick Beverley all back in L.A., Robinson won't be shy during summer league as he tries to carve out a larger role. Expect to see an aggressive scorer. 


    33. De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks

    Atlanta moved up to No. 4 in the draft for Hunter, who's physically ready to defend and coming off two seasons of accurate shooting. He won't experience many scoring outbursts like his 27-point eruption in the national title game, but he should quickly emerge as a three-and-D rotation player for the rising Hawks.


    32. Thomas Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

    Robinson has bounced around, most recently splitting time between China and the G League for 2018-19. He's surfaced with the Spurs, and the 28-year-old should look like a man among boys with his finishing, rebounding, passing and hustle. 

    31. Tony Bradley, Utah Jazz

    Still just 21 years old, Bradley should be one of Las Vegas' top bigs in his third summer league. He's improved his body and figures to be a more impactful scorer and defender in the paint this July.

Nos. 30-21

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    30. Jordan Loyd, Toronto Raptors

    On a two-way deal with Toronto, Loyd blew up into one of the G League's top players by averaging 22.5 points, 6.0 assists and 5.8 rebounds. Potent and smooth, the 6'4" guard could use summer league to strengthen his visibility and reputation.


    29. Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

    Herro won't be shy in Las Vegas after already seeing reps at the California Classic. He'll come out firing jumpers in transition, pull-ups and catch-and-shoot spot-ups. He'll have a long leash from the coaching staff, and enough looks will fall, even if that means going through cold streaks.


    28. Carsen Edwards, Boston Celtics

    The Celtics' third first-round pick figures to be their most productive summer league scorer. With a green light to fire away, Edwards should bury defenses in July with the jumper he used to knock down 135 threes for Purdue this past season.


    27. Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves

    The Wolves moved up from No. 11 to No. 6 for Culver, who transformed into a lead scorer and guided Texas Tech to the national title game. He's improved greatly as a shot-creator, though it could take time for his three-ball to start falling.


    26. Grayson Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

    Traded to Memphis in the Mike Conley deal, Allen should be looking at more playing time this coming season. And after he put together an impressive summer league last year, he figures to have another big July fueled by streaky shot-making and underrated playmaking skills.


    25. Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies

    As is also the case with Allen, Clarke should join the Grizzlies in Las Vegas once the trade that sent Conley to the Utah Jazz becomes official on July 6. He'll start building his reputation immediately just by making energetic and athletic plays off the ball as a rim-runner, lob target and shot-blocker. 


    24. Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers

    After emerging as an impact player against pros in Euroleague, Bitadze should be prepared to score and block shots against summer-leaguers. At 6'11", 250 pounds, he moves fluidly, has soft hands around the basket, shows an improved shooting stroke and boasts good timing in rim protection.      

    23. Isaiah Hartenstein (Houston Rockets, PF/C)

    Back for his third summer league, Hartenstein should be one of the top producers in Las Vegas after winning G-League Finals MVP. The 7-footer has become a versatile scorer, both inside and facing up, as well as a dominant presence under the boards.


    22. Willie Reed, Utah Jazz

    The No. 1 pick of the 2018 G League draft, Reed continues to knock on the NBA door. This will be his fourth summer league and likely the one he leaves his biggest imprint on. He brings touch and hustle to the paint.


    21. Dzanan Musa, Brooklyn Nets

    Musa averaged 19.5 points in the G League as a teenager, validating his reputation as a natural scorer. Joe Harris and the recently acquired Taurean Prince may make it tough for him to receive regular minutes, but he's got the opportunity and offensive game to be one of Las Vegas' top producers.

Nos. 20-11

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    20. Kevin Knox, New York Knicks

    Knox created expectations last summer he couldn't meet during the regular season. And there won't be as many shots for him in Las Vegas this year given the Knicks' stacked roster. However, he'll still be one of summer league's toughest covers with a 6'9" frame, driving ability and shooting skills.


    19. Dwayne Bacon, Charlotte Hornets

    Bacon averaged 18.2 points in Las Vegas and 22.2 points in the G League last season. Now a third-year player upon whom the Hornets will call for scoring during the regular season, he has the chance to be fairly dominant as Charlotte's top option in July.


    18. Svi Mykhailiuk, Detroit Pistons

    Mykhailiuk was a summer league star as a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers. He'll return for a second stint, this time with Detroit. Mykhailiuk has improved his shot creativity over the years, and though the NBA exposes his lack of physicality, he shouldn't have as much trouble burying jumpers off the catch and dribble in Las Vegas.


    17. Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers

    Milton averaged 24.9 points in the G League, and he'll have the coaches' attention now that the 76ers need additional ball-handlers. He has strong 6'6" size, three-point range and passing ability.


    16. Troy Brown Jr., Washington Wizards

    Brown had a productive summer league debut in 2018 and figures to play a bigger role as an NBA sophomore. Three-point shooting would unlock his upside, but he's flashed enough versatility as a playmaker, slasher and defender to hold value without a reliable jumper.


    15. Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat

    Nunn will be fighting for a roster spot in Miami after averaging 25.9 points as a senior at Oakland, going undrafted in 2018 and scoring 19.3 points per game for last year's Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League. He's a pure bucket-getter capable of creating his own shot, and he can score in a wide variety of manners with pull-ups, runners, floaters and layups.


    14. Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets

    Kurucs emerged as one of 2018's second-round steals, flashing impressive scoring versatility as a spot-up shooter, driver and cutter. With Kevin Durant out next season while he recovers from the ruptured Achilles suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson expected to leave in free agency, Kurucs should see a bump in minutes and usage. 


    13. Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets

    One of the top athletes in Vegas, Bridges figures to make a jump with his shooting this year. In the meantime, he'll be good for easy baskets off transition plays, cuts and putbacks, and he'll offer enough versatility to play stretches at all three frontcourt spots.  


    12. Devin Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers

    Robinson averaged 19.8 points last summer and 19.9 points in the G League. He'll look to catch on with Portland by showcasing his athleticism, slashing, defensive versatility and untapped shooting potential.


    11. Coby White, Chicago Bulls

    No Wendell Carter Jr. in summer league means a heavy workload for White, who could put up big numbers with a fast pace and a green light. His steaky scoring ability will come alive at some point, and as Chicago's lead guard, he'll be in position to rack up assists as a transition and ball-screen passer.

10. Frank Jackson, New Orleans Pelicans

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    Injuries have led to Frank Jackson falling behind schedule, but he appears to be healthy and a potential sleeper for both summer league and the regular season.

    A physical guard and confident scorer, Jackson made 61 appearances with the New Orleans Pelicans last season. He averaged 26.8 points in his four G League games, which is a promising indicator for his summer league readiness.

    He'll apply pressure on opponents with downhill attacking, tough shot-making and strong defensive tools. Jackson should rise above the competition in July and establish himself as a breakout player to watch heading into training camp.

9. Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers

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    Aaron Holiday returns for another summer league, now with NBA experience as a backup point guard for a playoff team. 

    Between what he flashed last July and the experience he received in Indiana, Holiday could be poised for a second-year breakout—at least in Las Vegas.

    He's a full-package ball-handler capable of getting downhill, pulling up from three or setting up his teammates. Indiana's summer league squad will rely on him as a lead guard and primary option, and that's a role on which Holiday should be prepared to capitalize.

    Since Victor Oladipo isn't likely to play 82 games next year, the Pacers' coaching staff will look at Holiday as an option to use alongside Malcolm Brogdon.

8. Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks

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    It became obvious midway through last season that the New York Knicks found a steal in Allonzo Trier.

    He established himself as a legitimate NBA scorer, and he's now entering his second summer league. Playing alongside RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and Kadeem Allen, Trier should have an easier time in Las Vegas this year, as few defenders will be able to contain his advanced one-on-one moves or shot-making versatility. 

    He's distinguished for his ability to create shots from each level and execute with a visible sense of confidence.

    In 64 appearances as an undrafted rookie, Trier averaged 10.9 points on 44.8 percent shooting from the field, 39.4 percent from three and 80.3 percent from the line.

7. Zhaire Smith, Philadelphia 76ers

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    A foot injury delayed Zhaire Smith's NBA introduction after he went No. 16 in last year's draft. He created optimism for 2019-20 during March and April, however, as the Philadelphia 76ers activated him late in the season.

    Smith has had plenty of time to build back his confidence and conditioning since missing time. And at full strength, he should be a productive summer league player capable of making an impact on and off the ball at both ends of the floor.

    Though not a scorer, Smith works as a cutter and spot-up shooter who can make smart passes within the offense. But it's his signature athleticism, energy and defensive activity that will help establish his identity and value.

6. Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs

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    After mostly playing in the G League last season, Lonnie Walker IV will be on breakout watch for 2019-20.

    Explosive with a textbook physical profile (6'5", 205 lbs), Walker is a smooth scorer capable of rising into his shot from each level.

    He'll be the San Antonio Spurs' featured player in summer league, just as Derrick White was during last year's coming-out party in Las Vegas. Between his athleticism, blossoming skills and confidence, Walker should be too much for most of the second-rounders and G League talents at summer league.

5. RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

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    RJ Barrett will be eager to unleash his relentless scoring attack in Las Vegas to spark hope in disappointed New York Knicks fans. 

    The up-and-down, looser setting will reward Barrett's transition game and aggression. Don't count on a high field-goal percentage by summer league's end, but he's going to produce, just as he has at every level from high school and FIBA to April's All-Star circuit and Duke. 

    New York will presumably experiment with Barrett at the point, where he's flashed encouraging playmaking and passing skills off ball screens. 

    The Knicks' July roster will feature an abnormal amount of deserving mouths to feed. But knowing Barrett's alpha-dog mindset, he'll surface as the No. 1 option. 

4. Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    It's surprising to see Jarrett Allen's name on a summer-league roster since he's already a proven NBA center entering his third season. Chances are his appearance will be brief and that he's mostly there for mentorship purposes.

    After he averaged 10.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 26.2 minutes per game as a 20-year-old sophomore, he should only get better. Even with the eventual signing of DeAndre Jordan, Allen represents a key building block for a franchise that's paying top dollar for superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

    Though not an advanced offensive player, Allen should punish summer-league defenses around the basket with his length for finishing and low-post play. He'll also make Brooklyn difficult to score on inside, where he's improved in rim protection significantly since his days at Texas.

3. Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    The NBA's second-leading shot-blocker doesn't usually play in summer league, particularly after he led the field in player efficiency rating last year (minimum 50 minutes).

    Mitchell Robinson needs the reps, however, to improve his offensive skill and defensive feel. Even without either—or a full-time role—Robinson still managed to average 2.4 blocks in 20.6 minutes for the New York Knicks while shooting 69.4 percent from the field. 

    It should only look easier during his second stint in Las Vegas. Robinson moves, jumps and anticipates with unique explosiveness and coordination. He'll continue to overwhelm at the rim and make defensive plays from the baseline out to the arc. 

2. Christian Wood, New Orleans Pelicans

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    Undrafted out of UNLV in 2015, Christian Wood has been grinding ever since while looking for a spot to stick. He'll have a chance in New Orleans, and he's likely to be a dominant summer league force, just as he was last year when he averaged 20.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks with the Milwaukee Bucks in Las Vegas.

    This past season, he averaged 29.3 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the G League before getting the call up to New Orleans, where he put up 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest in eight appearances following Anthony Davis' trade request. 

    With 6'10" size, athleticism and an improved scoring attack inside the arc, Wood ultimately seems like a consistent jump shot away from being a complete enough big man for an NBA rotation.

1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

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    The No. 1 overall pick would also go first in a summer league draft. Zion Williamson should continue to be the most dominant player on the floor in Las Vegas, as the uptempo, scrimmage-like feel will reward his special open-floor explosiveness.

    Against mostly second-rounders, undrafted players and G-Leaguers, Williamson is going to eat around the basket, and he'll probably show off some of his ball-handling maneuvers and post moves with a green light to experiment.

    Count on defensive highlights, as well. Those are sure to come with his quick feet, anticipation and wild leaping ability as a shot-blocker.


    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports-Reference unless otherwise indicated. 


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