Something stood out during the recently concluded NBA Summer League games and it was the absence of many notable young players. Mostly players who are entering their second or third year in the league. What happened? What were the reasons why team managers decided to sit them out? Was it because of rest? Was it due to injuries? Or did they just want to give more minutes to other hoopers? All those reasons are acceptable but those players missed out on the chance to improve their games.
Look at a player like Cam Thomas of the Brooklyn Nets. This was his second tour of duty. He was the scoring leader in last year’s games and still scored around 27 points per game this year. Now the Nets know how valuable he is and will surely see to it that his playing time will increase next season. Let’s take a look at some players who could have used this year’s Summer League to their advantage if they played.
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After his spectacular college career in Gonzaga, the Orlando Magic selected Suggs in the 2021 NBA Draft. He immediately scored 24 points and added nine rebounds in his first Summer League game. Fans were excited but that excitement quickly shifted to fellow rookie Franz Wagner during the regular season. A summer run this year would have done wonders for Suggs. Seeing him healthy and playing well alongside Paolo Banchero would have been a good start.
Mitchell was a surprise last year with his amazing performance on the defensive end of the court. What was even more surprising was the fact that his team, the Sacramento Kings, went on to win that year’s Summer League title. Maybe Mitchell should have played this year and honed his skills some more because the spotlight is shining on new teammate Keegan Murray right now. Murray just earned this year’s Summer League MVP award.
Pritchard and the Boston Celtics just lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. If fans were in Pritchard’s place, those fans would be aching to join Summer League games and use the playing time to prepare for next season. If you want to beat the Warriors, you have to prepare early. Pritchard had a good summer last year where he averaged around 20 points and 8 assists per game and it would have been nice to see if he had that type of performance again.
The Spurs just lost Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks so it would make sense if they just fielded Jones in their Summer League outings this year. Jones is more than capable of becoming the team’s next point guard. Remember, Jones scored almost 23 points per game last summer while shooting at least 50 percent from the field. He also added at least 6 assists per game which is what they will be needing next season.
Hyland was outstanding last summer. Shooting 40 percent from three-point land while scoring almost 20 points per game was a welcome sight for the fans of the Denver Nuggets. He quickly became a crowd favorite but only averaged 19 minutes per game during the regular season. Those minutes might even go down with Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray returning next season. Players in Hyland’s situation could have used Summer League action to prove to their coaches that they deserve more playing time.
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