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NBA summer league: One player to watch on every team

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Bagley drops 18 points in Summer League debut (0:59)

Marvin Bagley III turns in a decent game in his Summer League debut by putting up 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. (0:59)

What should fans and teams be looking for from the most interesting prospects at Las Vegas summer league?

Our NBA Insiders go team-by-team, giving one player to watch and why.


Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young | Guard

After the Hawks essentially opted to pass on the likes of Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mohamed Bamba by moving back to secure Young and Dallas' 2019 protected first, all eyes will be on Young -- the 2018 draft's most polarizing prospect.

While most NBA owners coveted his fan intrigue and statistical models gushed over his productivity, not every scout is as enamored with him. Given his feast-or-famine style, Young is bound to pop off for a couple of big games in Vegas. The key will be whether he is able to maintain efficiency, given his size and style of play, relying on deep pull-ups and skill finishes.

Keep an eye on how Young looks physically compared to NBA prospects, particularly on the defensive end. Summer league is more an appetizer than anything, but there's still quite a bit of pressure on Young to excite Hawks fans, given the big swing this organization took at the top of the draft. -- Schmitz

Matchup to watch: Hawks vs. Knicks | Friday (July 6), 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

  • Trae Young vs. Frank Ntilikina

Hawks' summer league roster


Boston Celtics

Robert Williams | Center

A likely top-10 pick if he stayed in the 2017 draft, Williams slid all the way to No. 27 due to concerns about his work ethic and health. He's off to a rough start after missing a team flight and a media conference call.

Williams might need an established organization like the Celtics more than general manager Danny Ainge & Co. need the physically gifted center, but Vegas is an excellent opportunity for the springy 6-foot-10 big man to show fans why he's the most talented prospect selected outside of the lottery in this year's draft.

Keep an eye on Williams' motor in Vegas. When he's fully engaged and playing with ferocity, he looks the part of the next Clint Capela as a vertical spacer, rim protector, switch defender and rebounder. Should Williams give the Celtics even 75 percent of what he's capable of while maintaining a clean bill of health, Boston stole one. -- Schmitz

Celtics' summer league roster


Brooklyn Nets

Rodions Kurucs | Forward

With Dzanan Musa not expected to play due to a long season overseas, all eyes shift to the Latvian forward. This will be the first time we've seen Kurucs -- considered a fringe lottery pick a couple of years ago -- play extended minutes outside of Barcelona, where he's had extreme ups and downs due to injuries and inconsistent playing time. Kurucs has logged just over 900 minutes in the past two seasons, and Vegas is an excellent opportunity for the 20-year-old to showcase his talent at 6-foot-10, 215 pounds, with offensive versatility built for the modern NBA.

It's also worth tracking the progress of guard Caris LeVert, one of the more proven players to suit up in Vegas. Second-year guard Milton Doyle is also a bit of a sleeper and could turn some heads. -- Schmitz

Nets' summer league roster


Charlotte Hornets

Malik Monk | Guard

Forever remembered for being selected two spots ahead of Donovan Mitchell, Malik Monk enters an important summer. The 20-year-old needs to start showing some signs of life after an underwhelming rookie campaign that featured a poor 47.6 true shooting percentage. He struggled to stay on the floor for long stretches last season and would benefit from finding more ways to impact the game when shots aren't falling for him. Has he improved his body, ballhandling and defense?

We'll also keep an eye on rookie forward Miles Bridges, who will likely look more comfortable as a small-ball forward with fewer shot-creation duties than he had at Michigan State. -- Schmitz

Hornets' summer league roster


Chicago Bulls

Chandler Hutchison | Forward

Wendell Carter Jr. was a no-brainer at No. 7 and figures to impact winning right away in Chicago, but the jury is still out on Hutchison, especially when you consider the fact that the Bulls shut him down early in the pre-draft process with a promise at No. 22.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Hutchison looks with a different role and NBA spacing, as he was tasked with a lot of shot-creation duties without much shooting around him at Boise State, leading to some ugly possessions. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-plus wingspan and long strides, Hutchison is built for a more free-flowing game. The key will be whether or not he can make enough shots to force hard closeouts and unlock his slashing potential. -- Schmitz

Bulls' summer league roster


Cleveland Cavaliers

Collin Sexton | Guard

With LeBron James now a Laker, the Young Bull has a golden opportunity to earn the keys to a franchise that's in flux. Sexton should provide his fair share of highlight moments in Vegas with his aggressive penetrating and tough defense. However, it's his shooting and ability to run a team that we'll be watching most closely. Summer league should allow us to get a better feel for how Sexton stacks up against fellow class of 2018 point guards Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and even Aaron Holiday.

Former McDonald's All American Billy Preston will also get some burn with the Cavs. While he's a long way from contributing at the NBA level, he's one of the more intriguing names on the roster. -- Schmitz

Matchup to watch: Cavs vs. Pacers | Monday (July 9), 5:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

  • Collin Sexton vs. Aaron Holiday

Cavs' summer league roster


Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic | Guard

Doncic told reporters this week that he may only play one game in Las Vegas, having played a full schedule in both the Spanish ACB and EuroLeague this season, which concluded for him barely two weeks ago. Doncic was also at last check still awaiting FIBA clearance to play for his new team.

Nonetheless, any Doncic appearance will be a must-watch to see how his skills translate against NBA-caliber athleticism. -- Pelton

Mavs' summer league roster


Denver Nuggets

Malik Beasley | Guard

With Wilson Chandler's departure, Beasley could be in line for a larger role in his third season after playing just 748 minutes combined his first two seasons.

Beasley was among last year's leading summer scorers, averaging 19.4 points per game. He'll again be featured on a Denver team that will play without first-round pick Michael Porter Jr., who has no timetable for his return to full 5-on-5 basketball at this point. -- Pelton

Nuggets' summer league roster


Detroit Pistons

Bruce Brown | Guard

Luke Kennard's development is the main point of emphasis for Detroit, but don't sleep on No. 42 pick Bruce Brown, who could turn out to be a draft-day bargain if he regains the form he showed as a freshman at Miami. At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, defensive toughness and playmaking ability, Brown is a Swiss Army knife of sorts who will surely benefit from spacing and talented scorers around him. The key for Brown has always been his jump shot, as his confidence wavers drastically, and he's yet to prove himself from the NBA line. If he can build momentum as a shooter, Brown should be able to impact winning during his rookie season.

Creighton 3-and-D guard Khyri Thomas was also a tremendous value pick for the Pistons, as his shooting and defense should stand out in Vegas. -- Schmitz

Pistons' summer league roster


Golden State Warriors

Jacob Evans | Guard

More than most teams drafting at the end of the first round, the Warriors are counting on this year's first-round pick to contribute immediately, especially after using their taxpayer midlevel exception on DeMarcus Cousins rather than adding wing depth.

Expect Evans to have the opportunity to play both on and off the ball as Golden State gauges what role he can play with more talented teammates. -- Pelton

Warriors' summer league roster


Houston Rockets

Zhou Qi | Center

The Rockets' 2016 second-round pick played just 124 minutes in his first NBA season, so unless you're closely following the G League -- where Zhou averaged 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes -- this will be the first chance to evaluate his progress from last year's summer league. -- Pelton

Rockets' summer league roster


Indiana Pacers

Edmond Sumner | Guard

Aaron Holiday should quickly prove that the gap between him and rookie point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton isn't quite as large as his draft slot would suggest. Pacers fans should fall in love with his pitbull defense, shot making and downhill penetration.

Given Holiday's fairly steady play, though, I'm more interested to see how a wild-card guard like Sumner looks. Slowed by injuries and inconsistent play in the G League, Sumner has some physical tools to work with at close to 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan and explosive athleticism (when healthy). His feel for the game and shooting leave much to be desired, but the 22-year-old is gifted enough to keep tabs on in Vegas, as we've really yet to see him at full strength since making the jump to the NBA. He's currently on his second year of a two-way contract with plenty to prove. -- Schmitz

Pacers' summer league roster


LA Clippers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson | Guards

Taken two picks apart, Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson represent the Clippers' backcourt of the future.

They'll have the opportunity to begin building chemistry and perhaps make the case to crack the team's rotation as a fourth guard this season, over the next week-plus. -- Pelton

Matchup to watch: Clippers vs. Warriors | Friday (July 6), 11:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

  • Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson vs. Jacob Evans

Clippers' summer league roster


Los Angeles Lakers

Moritz Wagner | Center

With the Lakers passing on Cousins and losing Julius Randle and perhaps Brook Lopez in free agency, Wagner may have a chance to play as a rookie. His stretch game offers a different look than newcomer JaVale McGee and incumbent Ivica Zubac. Wagner has gone 3-of-12 on 3s in two games at the California Classic, scoring a team-high 31 points but committing seven turnovers so far this summer. -- Pelton

Lakers' summer league roster


Memphis Grizzlies

Jaren Jackson Jr. | Center

Jackson's debut in a Memphis uniform saw him drain eight 3s in 13 attempts, showcasing the shooting ability at 6-foot-11 that made him the No. 4 pick in this year's draft.

Jackson is more of a work in progress inside the arc, where he's shot 3-of-9 in two games at the Utah Jazz summer league. -- Pelton

Matchup to watch: Grizzlies vs. Magic | Sunday (July 8), 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Mohamed Bamba

Grizzlies' summer league roster


Miami Heat

Derrick Jones Jr. | Forward

The 21-year-old Jones has all the makings of a longtime NBA role player at 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan, elite leaping ability, defensive versatility and an improved stroke. Recently elevated from a two-way contract to a guaranteed deal, Jones could very well put together a breakout season of sorts in Miami, starting with a big Vegas campaign.

Jones already started to show signs of life last season, starting eight of 14 games played with the Heat and shooting 35.6 percent from 3 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. It's important to keep in mind that he's just over a year younger than incoming rookies like Michael Porter Jr., Deandre Ayton, Trae Young and Mo Bamba.

The progress of Bam Adebayo is also worth tracking. -- Schmitz

Heat's summer league roster


Milwaukee Bucks

D.J. Wilson | Center

March Madness darling Donte DiVincenzo is the headliner for the Bucks, but I'm most interested to see if 2017 first-rounder D.J. Wilson has made any progress. Wilson played only 71 NBA minutes as a rookie after he was selected No. 17 , ahead of prospects such as John Collins, Jarrett Allen, OG Anunoby and Kyle Kuzma.

At close to 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and a smooth shooting stroke, there's no shortage of talent here, but his lack of toughness and physicality have long been glaring issues. Vegas will be a great barometer to gauge his development. -- Schmitz

Bucks' summer league roster


Minnesota Timberwolves

Josh Okogie | Guard

The likely departure of Nemanja Bjelica in free agency presents an opportunity for Okogie, a 38 percent 3-point shooter in two years at Georgia Tech, to crack the Minnesota rotation as a rookie.

The Wolves' first-round pick must prove he can finish against NBA length, having made just 43 percent of his 2-pointers as a sophomore. -- Pelton

Wolves' summer league roster


New Orleans Pelicans

Frank Jackson | Guard

A fractured right foot that eventually required three surgeries kept Jackson on the sidelines his entire first NBA campaign, but he's healthy for summer league -- albeit limited to 25 minutes per game to start.

The Pelicans will get their first look at Jackson in a game setting since drafting him with the first pick of the second round in June 2017. -- Pelton

Pelicans' summer league roster


New York Knicks

Frank Ntilikina | Guard

Kevin Knox is the big name here, and summer league is an excellent opportunity to showcase his talent, likely playing a different role than we saw at Kentucky. Keep an eye on how he adjusts to the NBA 3-point line, what he looks like defensively and whether or not he can be more efficient inside the arc with additional spacing.

What I'm even more interested to see is whether or not former top-10 pick Frank Ntilikina has progressed. There's no questioning Ntilikina's tools, defense and intangibles, but he's yet to prove himself as a shooter, scorer and primary ball handler. It remains to be seen whether or not he's worthy of a starting spot or better suited for a bench role as a utility guard, and how he looks in Vegas should give us a window into his development.

In addition to Knox and Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson is also one to watch, as summer league will be the first time scouts have really seen him in a competitive environment since the 2017 Jordan Brand Classic. From a tools perspective, Robinson is a lottery-level talent, and it will be interesting to see how many flashes of that we see here. -- Schmitz

Knicks' summer league roster


Oklahoma City Thunder

Hamidou Diallo | Guard

It's safe to call Diallo, who posted a .498 true shooting percentage in his lone season at Kentucky, a project. Given his athleticism and pedigree -- Diallo was a five-star recruit -- he's precisely the kind of project Thunder GM Sam Presti enjoys undertaking.

Unfortunately, Diallo isn't officially on the Oklahoma City roster yet because he was taken with a pick involved in the trade sending Dwight Howard to Brooklyn that can't be completed until the NBA's moratorium concludes on July 6. -- Pelton

Thunder's summer league roster


Orlando Magic

Mohamed Bamba | Center

Everyone will be watching Bamba, whom NBA teams were quite split on throughout the pre-draft process. Summer league is a perfect opportunity to see if Bamba's heavily discussed improved shooting mechanics can translate to live action, and, more important, how his motor looks as a lob-catching, shot-blocking center with a spaced floor and better guards than he had at Texas. Often dinged for his lackadaisical demeanor, how hard Bamba plays will be a major point of interest, even if it's just summer league.

Outside of Bamba, Vegas is an excellent opportunity for former top-10 pick Jonathan Isaac to regain some momentum, as his rookie campaign was muddied by injury and inconsistent play. Strong play from Bamba, Isaac, and even a long-armed, explosive athlete like Melvin Frazier, could infuse some much-needed enthusiasm into the Orlando fanbase. -- Schmitz

Matchup to watch: Magic vs. Suns | Monday (July 9), 9:30 p.m. ET (NBATV)

  • Mohamed Bamba vs. Deandre Ayton

Magic's summer league roster


Philadelphia 76ers

Zhaire Smith | Forward

Summer league is built for Zhaire Smith. The 18-year-old high-flyer is a SportsCenter Top-10 threat every time he steps on the floor. The explosive 6-foot-4 athlete should turn heads with his freakish leaping ability and high motor. It bears watching how he's used with the Sixers, as he benefited greatly from playing power forward for a small Texas Tech team. He has the tools and work ethic to become a unique role player, but he'll have to continue to prove he can shoot and handle enough to be considered more than just a tip-dunking athlete at the NBA level.

Sixers fans should also zero in on Jonah Bolden, a draft-and-stash who will be taking the floor in Vegas. The 6-foot-10 forward turned heads last summer in Salt Lake City and could very well end up filling a vital bench role for Philly next season should he come over as expected. Bolden's defensive versatility, ability to stretch the floor and facilitating on the move make him an interesting fit alongside the Sixers' current personnel.

Also, keep an eye on Turkish wing Furkan Korkmaz, who battled injuries last season. This is a great opportunity to prove his value as a 6-foot-8 shot-maker with improved strength and durability. -- Schmitz

Sixers' summer league roster


Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton | Center

All eyes in Vegas will be on the No. 1 pick of this year's draft, starting with Friday's marquee matchup against No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley and the Sacramento Kings.

Though they still have veteran Tyson Chandler, the Suns will likely count on Ayton to start from Day 1, making this an important opportunity to show he's ready. -- Pelton

Matchup to watch: Suns vs. Kings | Saturday (July 7), 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

  • Deandre Ayton vs. Marvin Bagley III

Suns' summer league roster


Portland Trail Blazers

Anfernee Simons | Guard

Having withdrawn from playing at the draft combine, Simons has never played a competitive game against NBA-caliber opponents as an early entrant directly from IMG Academy. So it will be particularly interesting to see how Portland's first-round pick deals with the jump in level of play. -- Pelton

Blazers' summer league roster


Sacramento Kings

Marvin Bagley III | Forward

Bagley delivered one of the first highlights of summer league with a powerful dunk in transition during his debut Monday in front of Sacramento fans. The No. 2 pick scored 18 points in that game but found the going much rougher on Tuesday, shooting 3-of-16 and missing all five of his 3-point attempts.

Bagley is playing alongside Harry Giles, a 2017 first-round pick who missed all of last season to rehab after multiple knee surgeries before reaching the NBA. -- Pelton

Matchup to watch: Kings vs. Grizzlies | Tuesday (July 10), 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

  • Marvin Bagley III vs. Jaren Jackson Jr.

Kings' summer league roster


San Antonio Spurs

Lonnie Walker IV | Guard

Walker's first appearance in a Spurs uniform was a struggle, as he missed 13 of 16 shots and scored seven points.

Improving his shot selection will be important for Walker, who posted a below-average .527 true shooting percentage in his lone season at Miami. Nonetheless, the combination of size and athleticism that made Walker a first-round pick was on display, most notably on a block where he swallowed up a smaller Utah Jazz opponent. -- Pelton

Spurs' summer league roster


Toronto Raptors

Tryggvi Hlinason | Center

Toronto has a handful of intriguing internationally stationed Americans on its summer league roster -- Jordan Loyd and Codi Miller-McIntyre to name a few -- but Icelandic giant Tryggvi Hlinason is the prospect to watch for the Raptors.

After electing to forgo his final year of eligibility and keep his name in the 2018 draft, it was a surprise to see the 7-foot-1 Valencia center go unselected. Although he's not exactly the prototypical modern center, Hlinason's combination of physical gifts, mobility, lob-catching, rim protection and feel, considering his unique background and late arrival to the game, make him worth keeping an eye on in Vegas. Whether it's in Toronto or elsewhere, he's at least worth consideration for a two-way contract, and it will be interesting to see how the 260-pounder looks in a more open NBA game. -- Schmitz

Raptors' summer league roster


Utah Jazz

Grayson Allen | Guard

Like Walker, Allen struggled with his shot in his first game, shooting 4-of-16 from the field before sitting out Tuesday (as did Walker).

Allen contributed more elsewhere, flashing impressive playmaking as he handed out seven assists and also pulled down eight boards. -- Pelton

Jazz's summer league roster


Washington Wizards

Issuf Sanon | Guard

Watch out for Washington's mid-second-round pick. The 6-foot-4½ Ukrainian combo guard is flashy and brash at age 18 -- currently the youngest player on any summer league roster. Sanon is a tough and sometimes wild guard who loves to attack the rim going right, defend the full 94 feet and show emotion after highlight reel plays.

He could use significant polish and is expected to remain with his club in Slovenia as a stash next season (and potentially beyond), but he's one of the more exciting young international prospects expected to take the floor in Vegas. -- Schmitz

Wizards' summer league roster