The 2021 NBA Summer League has concluded, with the Sacramento Kings winning the Summer League championship over the Boston Celtics. While the Kings and New Orleans Pelicans are the only teams who left Las Vegas with an undefeated record, plenty of players made the most of their opportunity during the tournament.
There were rookies who made a strong first impression at the NBA level, second-year players who were determined to showcase more of their game and prove they're ready for a bigger role, and veterans who hoped to earn a roster spot or training-camp invite. We asked our staff the following question:
Which player impressed you the most during Summer League?
Nekias Duncan: Not enough nice things can be said about the three-game stretch that Jalen Green put together. He popped as a shot creator, and showed real life as a passer in pick-and-roll situations. The on-ball defense looked much better than it did during his G-League stretch, though we’ll see how that translates.
Alex Kennedy: Tre Jones of the San Antonio Spurs really stood out to me. The sophomore point guard only appeared in 37 contests as a rookie and played just 7.3 minutes per game, but he dominated the competition in Las Vegas. In four games, the 21-year-old averaged 22.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 steals on 50.7/36.4/90.5 shooting splits. Against the Charlotte Hornets, he hit an impressive game-winning shot and finished with 34 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds. Jones looked too good for Summer-League action, which has to make the rebuilding Spurs happy. Like Jones, Tyrese Maxey (Philadelphia 76ers), Desmond Bane (Memphis Grizzlies) and Patrick Williams (Chicago Bulls) also deserve credit for shining and showcasing their continued development.
Jackson Frank: My sample is more narrow than usual because I didn’t catch my full allotment of games, but I dug what I saw from Aaron Nesmith. He flashed some off-the-dribble verve as a pull-up shooter and driver, and even executed some passing reads I wasn’t aware were in his bag. The Celtics need wing shooting and if he’s a legit rotation guy with some ability to attack closeouts, that’d help buoy them a good bit.
Spencer Davies: Though there were a number of young players who looked ready for the big stage, it’s hard not to salivate over what Jonathan Kuminga can become. With the right development and a perfect situation among champions in Golden State, it’s looking like he’ll be a force to be reckoned with down the line. The jump shot is inconsistent and he comes off as a little overaggressive and reckless right now — particularly when running the floor — but the dribble moves he put on in isolation situations were eye-popping, as were his speed and strength when he finished at the rim. The 18-year-old forward has plenty of upside to be excited about. It just may take a little time before he puts it all together, and that’s okay.