With the first few games of the NBA Summer League in the books, coaches, players, viewers, and fans have seen the flashes of greatness from many rookies and second/third year players. Prospects such as Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr., Lonzo Ball, and Markelle Fultz have showcased what they can bring to the table night in and night out for their respective squads. Although they are putting up excellent numbers, this is expected from such highly-touted talents.
See, the beauty of the Summer League is not only about the lottery picks and rising stars, it is also about the display of talented hoopers that are not household names. Many of these unheralded names have done some serious damage this summer and are looking to make an impact for their respective teams in the regular season.
Let’s dive into some of the surprise performers of the 2017 NBA Summer League so far…
Kyle Kuzma, Rookie, Forward, Los Angeles Lakers-
Kuzma and fellow rookie Lonzo Ball had disappointing debuts to their Summer League versus the L.A. Clippers (Kuzma: 3-8 fg, 9 pts, Ball: 2-15 fg, 5 pts, 5 assists), but both brought their lunch pails to work and bounced back gracefully versus the Boston Celtics. While many are praising Lonzo Ball for his triple-double performance (11pts/11rebs/11assists), many are overlooking the efficient and quiet 31 points and 9 rebounds Kuzma had while shooting 5-10 from three point land. Although the Lakers did not come up with the win, they have high hopes for their late-first round selection. Kuzma brings toughness and grit on defense while displaying a full arsenal of moves on offense that will help the Lakers not only in the Summer League, but as a vital role player for L.A. down the road.
Bryn Forbes, Second Year, Combo Guard, San Antonio Spurs-
The undrafted and underrated guard from Michigan State is dominating the 2017 Summer League so far for the Spurs. He is scoring at will for the San Antonio Summer League team averaging 29.2 ppg through 4 games. In his last outing versus the 76ers, Forbes dropped a game-high 35 points while shooting a perfect 17-17 from the free-throw line, showing that he can become another Patty Mills type guard and another secret weapon coming off the bench for Popovich and the Spurs. Expect to hear Forbes’ name being mentioned a lot more as he continues to stay hot during the Summer League.
Rashad Vaughn, Third Year, Shooting Guard, Milwaukee Bucks-
After being selected 17th overall by Milwaukee in 2015, Vaughn has been quiet during his first two seasons in the NBA. Yet, Vaughn has worked on his overall game and has really showcased what he can do. The former UNLV Running Rebel has been on a tear this summer, averaging 21.5 ppg for the Bucks Summer League team and shooting at a very high percentage (67% from the field). In his latest performance Vaughn poured in 31 points and 8 rebounds off 13-18 shooting, plus the victory versus the Brooklyn Nets. With a more polished offensive and defensive game, look for Vaughn to step huge for the Bucks this season, when a bucket is needed Vaughn’s number will be called. Not to mention, with all eyes on the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo, Vaughn will get much easier looks.
With a handful of games left in the 2017 NBA Summer League, make sure to keep your eyes peeled and be aware of not only these exciting young talents, but many other interesting prospects as well.
Good Luck to all players and teams.
Written By Daniel Malakismail