NBA Summer League: Takeaways from Days 2 and 3
NBA Summer League: Takeaways from Days 2 and 3

Alex Rikleen writes on the players who turned heads on Days 2 and 3 at the Las Vegas Summer League.

Hamidou Diallo, Thunder

After dazzling at the 2017 combine, Diallo returned to Kentucky for another season. The 45th pick in the 2018 draft, Diallo never really caught on as a rookie. But he shined in his summer league debut, scoring 20 points to go along with five rebounds, a steal and a block. We'll need to see a lot more from him before he warrants fantasy consideration, but after the Paul George trade, the opportunity could be there if Diallo can keep up this strong play.

Tony Bradley, Jazz

Scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds warrants mention, but the former UNC standout is buried on the depth chart. This is the start of a fun Summer League story, and nothing more.

Svi Mykhailiuk, Pistons

For the second game in a row, Mykhailiuk was one of the best players on the floor. This time he scored 18 points, buoyed by going 4-for-10 from behind the arc. He also added four assists and three rebounds. As I mentioned in the Day 1 recap article, the Pistons are desperate for a reliable wing shooter, and Mykhailiuk has the potential to earn that role. His continued strong Summer League play will help him close the gap on players like Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway – both of whom are probably above Mykhailiuk on the depth chart for now, but neither of whom have any kind of firm grasp on their roles.

Bruce Brown, Pistons

Brown also had a second strong game Saturday. He's now averaging 14.5 points and 8.5 assists through two Summer League games. Brown's been playing more of a facilitating role than Mykhailiuk, but Brown is a capable shooter in his own right. For fantasy purposes, the fact that both players are doing well probably adds more confusion than clarity, since they may be direct competitors for minutes.

The Celtics

The Celtics' Summer League squad features at least four players who will make their regular season roster – and Tacko Fall. So instead of five paragraphs, I'm covering them all together. Guerschon Yabusele was bad, easily outplayed by Robert Williams (aka TimeLord), Grant Williams, Fall, and the concessions guy who jumped in for a few minutes. TimeLord could become a Mitchell Robinson-lite for fantasy – an elite shot-blocker who also adds some rebounds and steals but doesn't score much.

Williams' NBA future is still cloudy, since it's not really clear what position he plays, but he's definitely proving that he has the chops to stick around in the NBA. Finally, Carsen Edwards scored 20 points and went 5-for-12 from three (41.7%), without doing much else statistically. I'm starting to get the sense that his fantasy profile will be similar to that of an early-career Lou Williams or a late-career Jamal Crawford.

Matisse Thybulle, 76ers

After a disappointing first game, Thybulle recovered in his second appearance. He scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds, but, more importantly, looked a lot more comfortable on offense. He spent a lot less time totally out of the action, and he showed some confidence when the ball found its way into his hands. Zhaire Smith also had a good game, building off the momentum of his first outing.

Mfiondu Kabengele, Clippers

Ivica Zubac is a fine player. But I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say he's pretty underwhelming as a starting center for a title contender. Kabengele seems to agree, and announced his intention to challenge for that role Saturday. He scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and was the decisive factor in the Clippers' win. Then, on Sunday, he scored 19 and added five rebounds and a block. The 27th pick in this year's draft, Kabengele could earn some meaningful minutes this season.

Isaiah Hartenstein, Rockets

A 21-year-old entering his sophomore season, Hartenstein is likely to make the roster, but unlikely to ever see meaningful minutes. He had an excellent 20-point, 13-rebound, three-block performance Saturday, and followed it up with 22 points and six rebounds Sunday, but we don't need to spend much time on this one. 

Troy Brown, Wizards

Brown scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds Saturday. That's the kind of Summer League performance you want to see out of a rising sophomore. Brown, the 15th pick in 2018, could be in line for significant minutes this season, as the Wizards depleted roster only seems to be getting worse with time.

Jordan Poole, Warriors

The Warriors' first round pick this season, Poole is likely to see some meaningful action this season. It's good for them, then, that he's so far demonstrated an ability to shine. He put up 21 points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and two threes Sunday. He also played well in the Summer League opener against the Hornets. While the Hornets regular season squad may be one of the worst in recent memory this season, their Summer League team features a large number of players with NBA experience, especially on the wing, so Poole's strong showing in that game is extra meaningful.

Miles Bridges, Hornets

Bridges appears to be in line for a large boost in playing time this season, so he's a player on the top of our fantasy watch list this summer. He did alright in the Summer League opener, but it was in Game 2 that he really started to stand out. With 23 points, seven rebounds and three steals, Bridges was one of the dominant forces in the game. 

Coby White, Bulls

Not much new to add that I didn't cover in the Day 1 recap. White can play. He should be the Bulls' starting point guard. He's up to 10 turnovers in two games, which is a lot, and his jump shot looks funky. He's a combined zero-for-11 from three. But he's dictating the pace of the game, leading the offense, scoring well and setting up his teammates. 

Ignas Brazdeikis, Knicks

The Knicks' second-round pick is unlikely to crack the rotation this season, especially after their free agent strategy of "sign all the power forwards". But the 20 year old out of Michigan deserves credit for his performance Sunday, finishing with 30 points, eight rebounds and two assists. 

RJ Barrett, Knicks

I feel obliged to include him here, but his performance really wasn't all that great. He made a defensive play that was decisive in forcing overtime, and he grabbed 10 rebounds, but he also made a ton of mistakes. He committed eight turnovers and scored just eight points on 20% field goal shooting. He has some scoring chops, but he's not playing particularly well so far. 

Stock Down

Most of the time, what we care about in Summer League is who is playing well. However, for a handful of first round picks or players who already have NBA experience, bad games are also worth mentioning.

Nassir Little, Trail Blazers

The box score says he played 22 minutes, but most in the arena probably would have guessed that he only played half that many. The 25th pick in this year's draft was a complete non-factor in his debut. It's only Summer League, and it's only one game, but this was not a good start.

Omari Spellman, Hawks

Former first round picks making their second go-around at Summer League are supposed to dominate the competition. Spellman, on the other hand, looked below average. Spellman didn't play a ton as a rookie, but he averaged 17.5 minutes across 45 games, so it's not like he was a full-time bench-warmer either. His final stats from Game 2 ended up looking pretty good – 16 points and eight rebounds – but it didn't look good.

*Editor's note: Spellman was traded to the Warriors on Monday.

Jarrett Allen, Nets

Everyone, myself included, ridiculed Kevin Durant and the Nets for wanting to pay DeAndre Jordan when the team already had Allen. Well, it's just one game, and it's important not to overreact, but Allen was bad in Game 2 Sunday. He couldn't find the basket, he got beat a few times on defense, it was an underwhelming showing. He still managed seven rebounds and two blocks, so it wasn't a total disaster, but it wasn't reassuring, either.

De'Andre Hunter, Hawks

Hunter made his debut Sunday, and it wasn't pretty. It's not worth paying too much attention unless it becomes a pattern, as we've already seen first round rookies flop in their debut only to recover their second time out (Thybulle). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Rikleen
Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball and was a nominee for the 2016 FSWA Newcomer of the Year Award. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living outside Boston.
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