Names to Watch in the 2K23 Las Vegas Summer League Part 1
The NBA offseason is fully underway, and with that, one of the most exciting parts of the offseason is here…the NBA Summer League. Summer League is where players are first introduced to the Association.
Whether you’re a lottery pick, second-round selection, or even undrafted, it doesn’t matter. All players who find their way on a Summer League roster have the same goal in mind, to make a name for themselves and earn a spot in the NBA.
Summer League in Las Vegas gives an idea of talent and what they can offer. Some players will rise, and others may fall. Here’s Part I (Atlanta Hawks through Memphis Grizzlies) of our Summer League preview.
Names to watch for each NBA team:
Atlanta Hawks: AJ Griffin
AJ Griffin was selected just outside the lottery with the 16th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks. Griffin averaged 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in his only season with the Duke Blue Devils.
Following the trade of Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari, the Hawks have seemingly opened minutes at the forward position. Griffin could use his time and potentially earn his way into some regular-season minutes alongside the young duo of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Sharife Cooper
Boston Celtics: Juhann Begarin
The Boston Celtics selected Juhann Begarin with the 45th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Begarin spent last Summer with the Celtics before being stashed overseas after Summer League ended. The difference this year? The Celtics have three open roster spots after trading for guard Malcolm Brogdon, and Begarin fits the needs and position the Celtics lack on their roster.
In five games last year with the C’s in Vegas, Begarin averaged 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in only 24 minutes per game. After a year of development overseas in France, Begarin averaged 11.1 points per game, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 29 appearances with the Paris team.
With a real chance at making the roster, Begarin is a name to watch.
Others to Keep an Eye On: JD Davison, Sam Hauser, Trevion Williams
Brooklyn Nets: Cam Thomas
In portions of his rookie year, Cam Thomas looked like he belonged in the league. However, towards the end of the campaign, Thomas got lost in the lineup behind Goran Dragic and Patty Mills. Amid Brooklyn’s current drama, Thomas could be in a position to earn critical rotation minutes as the Nets have lost core rotation players in free agency.
In his rookie year, Thomas averaged 8.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. Thomas certainly has the potential to be an explosive scorer, and perhaps the Summer League could be his place to show it again.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Kessler Edwards
Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams
The Charlotte Hornets have been searching for a big man for many years. With the 15th pick in this year’s draft, they selected Mark Williams out of Duke University in hopes of finding the answer.
In his time with the Blue Devils, Williams averaged 9.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in his two-year tenure. With the center position wide open for Williams to take, he will have his chance to prove himself this Summer.
Others to Keep an Eye On: LiAngelo Ball, Brady Manek, Nick Richards
Chicago Bulls: Dalen Terry
With the 18th pick in the draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Dalen Terry. The 6-foot-8 guard averaged 6.6 points per game, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in two years at the University of Arizona,
Terry may not have had the most electric college career, but he has the tools to succeed in this league. He will have his shot in Vegas.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Justin Lewis, Makur Maker
Cleveland Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji
To round out the lottery, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Ochai Agbaji out of the University of Kansas with the 14th pick. Agbaji enters the league following his senior year at Kansas and has shown potential to be an elite scorer at the college level. Now he looks to prove he can do the same in the NBA.
In four years at Kansas, Agbaji improved his game each season. In his final year, Agbaji averaged 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. Shooting over 40% from three in his senior year, the former Jayhawk could add much-needed shooting to this Cavalier team.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Ashton Hagans, Isaiah Mobley
Dallas Mavericks: Jaden Hardy
In the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected Jaden Hardy from the NBA G-League Ignite. Hardy was believed to be a potential first-rounder heading into the draft before ultimately falling to the Mavericks 37th overall.
Hardy averaged 17.7 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in his time with the Ignite. At only 20 years old, Hardy has plenty of room to grow with the Mavericks, and the guard could potentially be a nice pairing with Luka Doncic in the future.
Hardy has a good chance of making the roster following the departure of Jalen Brunson.
Others to Keep an Eye On: AJ Lawson, Jalen Lecque
Denver Nuggets: Christian Braun
The Denver Nuggets selected Christian Braun with the 21st overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Following his National Championship run with the University of Kansas, Braun elected to forego his senior season to enter the draft process.
Braun improved his play each college season as his minutes gradually rose, with the guard putting up 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in his final year at Kansas. The 6-foot-6 sharpshooter could be a nice depth piece for the Nuggets if he plays well in the Summer League.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Collin Gillespie, Kellan Grady, Peyton Watson, Ismael Kamagate
Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey
The fifth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Jaden Ivey, will be the talk of the Summer League for the Detroit Pistons. Following Ivey’s electric final year at Purdue, he could easily steal the spotlight in Las Vegas.
In his final year as a Boilermaker, Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. The backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey looks like a bright future in Detroit.
With many of the Pistons’ young core participating in the Summer League, this Detroit team should be fun to watch
Others to Keep an Eye On: Saddiq Bey, Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart
Golden State Warriors: Jonathan Kuminga
Following his rookie year with the Warriors, the former seventh overall pick looks to prove that he belongs in the rotation. Kuminga played pretty well in his rookie year for the Dubs, but his lack of defensive ability caused him to fall out of the rotation towards the end of the year.
In 70 games in his rookie season, Kuminga averaged 9.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. While Kuminga has already earned a spot on the roster, the lack of front-court depth for the Warriors may allow him to earn a more prominent role.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Moses Moody, Lester Quiñones, Gui Santos, Mac McClung
Houston Rockets: Jabari Smith Jr.
The Houston Rockets snagged Jabari Smith Jr. with the third pick in this year’s draft. Many believed that Smith Jr. was worthy of the first overall pick, and with the extra chip on his shoulder, he will look to prove the two teams who passed wrong.
In his lone season at Auburn, Smith Jr. averaged 16.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. The versatile 6-foot-10 forward could be the turning point for this Rockets’ franchise as they’re stuck in the middle of a rebuild.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Tari Eason, Daishen Nix, Tyty Washington Jr.
Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin
Bennedict Mathurin was selected sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2022 NBA Draft. Mathurin is coming off his best collegiate year at the University of Arizona. In his second year at Arizona, Mathurin made a colossal leap in nearly every category.
In his final year of college, Mathurin averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
The young duo of Tyrese Haliburton and the young rookie should be fun to watch for years to come, and Summer League will be a preview of what Mathurin has to offer this Pacer team.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Chris Duarte, Andrew Nembhard, Isaiah Jackson, Duane Washington Jr.
Los Angeles Clippers: Jason Preston
Jason Preston was selected in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. The 6-foot-4 guard from Ohio University has all the potential to be a serviceable NBA player, but behind the Clippers’ loaded roster, Preston has yet to be given a fair chance to show his talent.
Preston has reportedly added 15 lbs. of muscle and looks to carve himself out a role on the Clippers’ roster.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Brandon Boston Jr., Moussa Diabate
Los Angeles Lakers: Max Christie
The Los Angeles Lakers selected Max Christie with the 35th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Many viewed Christie as a first-round talent who has the potential to showcase in the summer league.
In his freshman year at Michigan State, Christie averaged 9.3 points,3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists before declaring for the NBA Draft.
Christie has the tools to earn a roster spot on this Laker team.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Shareef O’Neal, Scotty Pippen Jr., Cole Swider
Memphis Grizzlies: Kenny Lofton Jr.
Kenny Lofton Jr. was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Memphis Grizzlies and has been putting on a show so far in the Salt Lake City Summer League. Expect Lofton Jr. to keep the same intensity of play to prove himself after every team passed on him in the draft.
Lofton Jr. played for a smaller college in Louisiana Tech University. In his final year at Tech, Lofton Jr. averaged 14.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. At 6-foot-8, the Grizzlies’ prospect has shown substantial potential to be a talented scorer. However, NBA teams were worried about his weight.
If Lofton Jr. can continue his strong play, maybe even shed a few pounds this offseason, he will be an exciting prospect to keep tabs on.
Others to Keep an Eye On: Kennedy Chandler, Xavier Tillman Sr., David Roddy, Ziaire Williams