Troy Pierce | July 25th, 2019
The 2019 NBA Summer League has ended, and the Rookie Report has returned!
Today I’ll be taking a look at some of the top rookies from this years’ Summer League. While the competition in Summer League isn’t close to what the NBA game has to offer, these games do still serve a purpose (even if it’s just to feed into the fans’ basketball addictions).
First, these games give a little sneak peek at the future of the NBA. With players like Coby White, Tyler Herro, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker coming into the fold the future is bright.
Secondly, it allows us to gauge each players’ abilities before they step onto an NBA court. Now, they will likely not have the same level of production. However, we can identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of each player.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls
Alec Jacoby “Coby” White was drafted with the seventh overall pick by the Chicago Bulls.
The former North Carolina Tarheel ended his freshman season averaging just over 16 points and four assists per game. He was also voted to the 2018-19 All-ACC team, the ACC All-Freshman team, and the 2019 All-ACC March Madness Tournament team for his stellar season.
Coby White was one of the most fun players to watch in Summer League. He plays the game at a fast pace, and with a high motor. That speed combined with his shiftiness and his ball-handling allow him to get his shot off despite the defense. Through five games the seventh pick averaged right around 15 points per contest.
However, he struggled with his efficiency averaging just over 16 and a half field goal attempts per game. White also failed to show any real ability from distance, only making five of his 30 total attempts from beyond the arc.
Coby White also showed to have good defensive instincts and grabbed at least one steal in each of his five appearances.
His scoring, playmaking, and defense should allow him to be a steady contributor for the Bulls in his first season. On the other hand, he will need to cutdown on turnovers, become a better three point shooter, and become a more efficient offensive player.
Tyler Herro, Miami Heat
Tyler Herro was drafted with the 13th overall pick by the Miami Heat.
While at the University of Kentucky, Herro averaged 14 points on just over 46% from the field. He also received NCAA All-Region, 2018-19 All-SEC, and SEC All-Freshman honors.
Herro grabbed headlines with his long-range shooting and ability to light up the scoreboard. Despite some inconsistencies, he maintained himself as a solid scoring threat averaging just over 20 points per contest.
One of his most notable abilities was his free throw shooting. Herro is not afraid to draw contact and was able to make defenders pay for their fouls, missing only one free throw in 25 attempts. Including a nine-for-nine effort against China en route to 23 points, and a nine-for-ten, 25 point performance.
In a few years, we should see Tyler Herro mentioned as one of the best young scorers the league has to offer.
Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans Pelicans
Jaxson Hayes was drafted with the eighth overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks and ended up in New Orleans as a part of the trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sideshow Jax is a hyper-athletic forward with a knack for defense and rebounding. He gets off the floor quickly to pursue rebounds and can do so multiple times in a short burst. His best rebounding effort came in an overtime win against the Miami Heat; a game which saw him grab 12 rebounds en route to a double-double. Hayes’ defensive ability was on full display against the Chicago Bulls where he blocked three shots. He would also have at least one block or steal in three other contests.
The former Texas Longhorn made waves on offense with 28 points on a 10-of-15 shooting effort. He would also make eight of his 14 attempts from the free-throw line. Hayes also made his only attempt from beyond the arc as part of a 13 point night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Although Hayes wouldn’t have any other eye-popping totals in the scoring department, he was very efficient with the attempts he did take. The 19-year-old would shoot at least 60% from the field in all but one contest where he would go seven-of-15 from the field and finish with 15 points.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans
Nickeil Alexander-Walker was drafted with the 17th overall pick by the Brooklyn Nets. He would then be traded to the Atlanta Hawks – along with Allen Crabbe and a 2020 first-rounder. He would be traded a second time and land with the Pelicans.
The Canadian-born point guard looked comfortable playing for his new team. He filled up the stat sheet in every area and showed his ability to score from all areas of the floor. His playmaking and defensive ability stuck out as well.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker can score with ease and from almost anywhere on the floor. The rookie would put up at least 23 points in three of his four Summer League appearances. His highest scoring total came in a 34 point effort that included gong 11-of-14 from the charity stripe and five three-pointers.
The Virginia Tech product also proved to be a willing playmaker for his Summer League team, chipping in at least five assists in each game.
Defensively, Nickeil showed good hands and good instincts and was consistently a factor on that end of the floor. The rookie would have at least three steals in three of his four appearances.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker even made sure to be a factor in the Pelicans overtime loss against the Memphis Grizzlies despite his poor shooting. The former Hokie finished the game with 14 points on 5-of-23 shooting performance. Despite his struggles from the floor, he would go 2-for-2 from the free-throw line and also hit two shots from beyond the arc. The rookie guard would also be a factor on the boards, grabbing seven on the night. His ability to stay engaged and make plays despite his own struggles is a good sign for a young player.
Overall these rookies performed the best, and most consistently, in the Summer League. Each of these players should be reliable for their new teams, and household names within their first few seasons.
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