The NBA Summer League – Las Vegas edition kicked off, finally giving us more than one promising rookie to look at. Dragan Bender of the Phoenix Suns was probably the most impressive of the crop, Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers continues to look good, and Brandon Ingram of the Los Angeles Lakers mostly looked like he needs more time.
Besides the rookies, it was a day for the sophomores to shine, especially Devin Booker, who is probably a bit overqualified for summer league games. D’Angelo Russell was great and clutch for the Lakers, and Bobby Portis of the Chicago Bulls showed some progress too compared to last season, hoping to get a bigger piece of the pie this season as far as minute allocation goes.
The Suns beat the Portland Trail Blazers 86-73, with Booker, who averaged 19.2 points per game in his rookie year, scoring 28 points. Dragan Bender, with 12 points and 7 rebounds, showed his ability to be the modern big man with blowing by defenders and setting up teammates for good scoring situations.
The Brooklyn Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 79-73, led by 19 points from Sean Kilpatrick. Rookie Isaiah Whitehead finished with 10 points but also 7 turnovers, while Jordan McRae led the Cavs with 27 points, hoping he can make himself a bigger part of another title push, playing in just 15 games last season.
The Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 71-62, led by 17 points and 13 rebounds from Bobby Portis. Portis, who struggled with his shooting last season but showed impressive under-the-rim potential, is hoping he becomes a bigger part of the rotation (17.8 minutes last season). It was a disappointing debut for Denzel Valentine, who looked like the NBA three-point range was a bit much for him, missing all of his 9 attempts, finishing with 8 points. Jaylen Brown had another rough appearance, with only 9 points and 3-for-13 from the field.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 20 points for the Washington Wizards in their 88-73 win over the Utah Jazz, while Trey Lyles shined on the other end with 28 points. Danuel House, who went undrafted in 2016, scored 14 points for the Wizards.
The Denver Nuggets crushed the Memphis Grizzlies 106-62, with Jimmer Fredette scoring 26 points and hitting four 3-pointers. Jamal Murray scored 6 points for the Nuggets, Juan Hernangómez also finished with 6 points in the win. Wade Baldwin IV, the Grizzlies first round pick, led them with 10 points.
The game most of the fans were anxious for was the Lakers – Sixers, ending with a D’Angelo Russell 3-point buzzer beater to win the game 70-69, while he scored 22 points to go with 5 assists. Brandon Ingram finished with 7 points on 3-for-12 from the field, struggling when Jerami Grant focused on him defensively. Ben Simmons kept wowing with his passing ability, finishing with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, while also turning the ball over 7 times. He continues to struggle when it comes to finishing at the rim.
The Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 83-64, with 30 points from Jonathan Gibson leading the Mavs, and 19 from James Anderson. The Heat, who didn’t have a single draft pick, were led by Rodney McGruder, who also played for them in the last Summer League. He has spent the last two seasons in the D-League.
The San Antonio Spurs beat the Golden State Warriors 63-61, with Kyle Anderson once again shining for the Spurs, scoring 14 points. Rookie Dejounte Murray finished with 8 points on a rough shooting night, but was good on the boards with 10 rebounds. The Warriors got 14 points from second round pick Patrick McCaw, and were led by Keifer Sykes, who scored 15 points. Sykes played for the Austin Spurs in the D-League last season.