clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Five D-League Alums To Keep An Eye On In Utah Summer League

With the D-League continuing to grow, there are more players entering the NBA out of the developmental league. Who are the NBADL players to watch in the Utah Summer League?

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is in the books. College prospects and international players have new homes and are ecstatic about the next step in their basketball journey. The Summer League gives the rookies a glimpse of what to expect during their rookie season. On the other hand, there are several former D-League players that have earned roster spots in the Summer League. There are several former D-League players that performed well last season and are looking to find a spot on an NBA roster.

Jordan Mickey - Boston Celtics

After signing the richest second-round contract in league history, Jordan Mickey is in a good position. He's under contract with the team next season, but he will still need to show progress in his game. He spent almost half the season (25 games) with the Maine Red Claws before joining the Boston Celtics after the All-Star Break. During his time with the Red Claws, Mickey showed that he can be a reliable shot blocker. He frequently held block parties at the expense of his opponents, as he averaged 3.9 blocks per game during his 25 games in Maine. One of his highlights as a Celtic was recording three blocked shots in under two minutes.

While he's making himself known as a shot blocker, Mickey is looking to develop his game during the Summer League. His offensive game is not where it should be, but it's getting there. If the LSU product can develop a three-point shot, he will be a solid player. With the way the NBA is heading, Jordan Mickey would fit in well in small ball lineups. The Summer League gives Mickey the perfect opportunity to showcase his skills and improvements.

Aaron Craft - Utah Jazz

Even though Aaron Craft went undrafted in 2014, he's been one of the best D-League point guards over the last two sesons.  Craft isn't a strong shooter from deep, but he has the ability to score. While he averaged 13.4 points per contest during the 2015-16 campaign, his strongest asset is his defense. In his two seasons in the D-League, he has shown his toughness and grit on defense. It's difficult to leave your eyes off Craft on defense, as he has shown he can pick up a steal and push it in transition. That knack is evident through Craft averaging 2.3 steals per game during his first two seasons in the D-League. The Ohio State product also has the ability to be a good passer as he was eighth in the D-League in assist per game (6.2).

The Utah Jazz don't have much stability in the backcourt. The team brought in George Hill via trade and he will be a free agent after the 2016-17 season. Dante Exum is 12 months removed from tearing anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. While Shelvin Mack looked good in the final 28 games of the season — he averaged 12.7 points and 5.3 assists per game — his future with the team is in doubt. Mack has a team option this year.

James Young - Boston Celtics

James Young is an interesting player to keep an eye on during Utah Summer League. This isn't his first, or second time, competing in the Summer League as Young was hurt in the previous two years. Not only were injuries a factor, but the Kentucky product struggled in his first two seasons with the Celtics. Along with his struggles, Young was assigned to the Maine Red Claws on multiple occasions.

The 6'6″ guard will look start to build back some of that momentum during Summer League. If he's able to do that, it could be a good sign for Young heading into his third season. With the young crop of players coming into Boston, James Young will need to show his worth next season. It certainly sounds like Young is ready for the Summer League to start as his main thing to accomplish: "just to keep improving." (h/t A. Sherrod Blakely)

Christian Wood - Philadelphia 76ers

Through most of his sophomore season with the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, Christian Wood was pegged by most as a 1st round option in the 2015 NBA Draft. Ultimately his draft stock plummeted and did not hear his name get called at the Barclays Center. The 6'10" forward had the chance to showcase his skills in Delaware, as part of the 87ers squad. Last season, the UNLV product averaged nearly averaged a double-double for the season (17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game). While Wood does have a small frame — 6'10" and 216 pounds — he does have the length to finish at the rim. Defensively, he may have trouble competing and getting physical against opposing bigs, but his length is a positive.

One issue that Wood faces is the Philadelphia 76ers have depth in their front court. Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel will take up the bulk of the minutes at center, with Joel Embiid seeing minutes off the bench. Dario Saric and Ben Simmons will be entering their rookie seasons with the Sixers next season. Unfortunately, Wood's best chance may be outside of Philadelphia.

Will Cummings - San Antonio Spurs

While some may have their eyes on another point guard on the San Antonio Summer League squad, Dejounte Murray, let's not forget about Will Cummings. Cummings struggled during his first two seasons at Temple, but he turned things around during his final two seasons. Even though he started to show progress during his junior and senior season, he went undrafted in 2015. The Temple product looked impressive during his rookie season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He has the ability to attack the basket and can pick up a couple of steals as well. During the 2015-16 campaign, he was named to the D-League All-Rookie Team and the D-League Second Team. In addition, the 6'2″ guard participated in the D-League All-Star Game.

Currently, the Spurs have three point guards on their roster; Tony Parker and Patty Mills will be returning to the team and Dejounte Murray was the Spurs' first round pick in the 2016 Draft. If Will Cummings looks solid during the Summer League, he could have an opportunity at making an NBA team.