On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up Vegas Summer League by defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 110-95 during the championship game. Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma was a big factor behind that victory as he put up a 30 point, 10 rebound double-double on 11-16 from the field and 6-10 from beyond the arc. That great play was enough for Kuzma to be awarded the MVP for that championship game.
Prior to Kuzma and the Lakers clinching that title, basketball fans had the opportunity to spend the last week watching some of the best young players competing in one singular location. Over the course of that time, fans watched De’Aaron Fox speed down the court, Dennis Smith cross up poor souls or Lonzo Ball throw terrific passes to his new Laker teammates.
As those talented rookies received a lot of attention of both fans and media, there were some young players that shined in Vegas while staying out of the spotlight. A prime example of that was seen with 6’9 forward Matt Costello, who spent time in Vegas with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
On a T-Wolves squad that didn’t really feature any elite prospects, Costello had an immediate opportunity to get major minutes. From the jump, he just used that opportunity and shined as he immediately stood out as one of the best front-court players in Vegas, despite entering as a relative unknown. Over the course of Summer League, he showed himself as a mobile 245 pound forward that can run the floor, facilitate and hit the occasional mid-range jumper.
However, those skills pall in comparison to how Costello just dominated as a rebounder throughout Vegas Summer League. In four games, Costello collected 12.3 rebounds per game while playing with the T-Wolves, which put him as the rebounding king of Summer League. Alongside that, the Michigan State alum also averaged 10.3 points on 61% from the field. Those stats placed Costello alongside Blazers rookie Caleb Swanigan as the only players in Vegas to average a double-double.
For anyone that’s been paying attention to Costello since his days at Michigan State, that of production shouldn’t surprise anyone that’s been following his career. As a senior at Michigan State, Costello averaged 2.9 offensive boards in only 23 minutes per game which allowed him to maintain a 15.3 ORB% (Offensive Rebounding Percentage). Costello’s ORB% average was better than anyone that was selected in the 2016 NBA Draft, which obviously didn’t include him.
After going undrafted, Costello made his way to the NBA G League to play with the then-Iowa Energy. Despite the better competition and battling numerous injuries, Costello improved as a rebounder once he hit the G League. As a rookie, he collected 3.5 offensive boards in only 25 minutes per game, which placed him as the fifth best rebounder in the NBA G League.
In addition to his tremendous work on the offensive glass, Costello can also shine as a pretty capable scoring threat. As a G League rookie, Costello shined as a great PnR cutter as he’s pretty quick for a 6’9, 245 pound forward. Alongside that, he has some good footwork inside the low-post, which he shows in the clip below.
As a player that’s produced no matter where he’s played, it would seem right for some squad to throw a two-way deal at Costello. Since his time at Michigan State, he’s shown himself to be an elite offensive rebounder that can also protect the rim and do various things as a scoring threat. If he can maintain this type of production while also adding other skills to his game, whether its perimeter shooting or being a more well-rounded post-up threat, he might have a chance at possibly one day landing in the NBA.