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Five Observations From Early Vegas Summer League Rosters

Dakota Schmidt gives his five observations from the early Vegas Summer League rosters that have been released.

NBA: Indiana Pacers-Media Day Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

All the rosters talked about in this piece come from HoopsHype’s “2019 NBA Summer League Rosters” page.

Milwaukee Has Shooters

While the Bucks haven’t released the full roster that they’re going to be putting on the court for Summer League, their early roster: they love perimeter shooting. That aspect became apparent when you watched them play last year as new head coach Mike Budenholzer implemented a fast-paced offense based around Giannis Antetokounmpo being surrounded by a slew of perimeter shooters. Obviously, that approach worked as the team finished with the best regular season record and were within two wins of making it to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1971.

While a lot of the players on their Summer League team are more likely to play for the Wisconsin Herd than the Bucks, their perimeter-minded approach is evident from the UDFA’s and international/G League players that they brought in. Currently, Milwaukee’s Summer League roster will have four UDFA’s that shot better than 40% from beyond the arc in Daulton Hommes, Rayjon Tucker, Luke Maye, and Fletcher Magee. Coinciding with their excellent perimeter shooting, that quartet also has size as Magee and Tucker are the shortest of the bunch standing at 6’4.

In addition to that solid foursome, Summer League invites Matt Farrell and Xavier Munford have shown their prowess as perimeter threats, as they’ve shot 35% and 38% from beyond the arc, respectively during their G League career.

American-Born Overseas Players To Keep An Eye On

While a lot of attention during Summer League will be focused on stud rookies like Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, there are numerous other types of players to keep an eye on during the Las Vegas event. In terms of our site, that attention will be G League alums and UDFA’s as we’ll monitor which of those players stand out as potential diamonds in the rough. Although the main focus will be on those talented prospects, there’s another group of players to keep an eye on during Summer League: American-born guys that played overseas ball last year

Although there will be a slew of those players in Vegas, there are a handful of specific prospects that fans should keep an eye on. Western Kentucky Darius Thompson stands as one of those players, as he’s a well-rounded 6’4 guard that shined during his rookie year with ZZ Leiden of the EuroCup by putting up 20 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals on 53% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc on 4.3 attempts per game. He definitely stands out as a potential two-way prospect due to being a bigger point guard that can slash to the rim and be an above-average perimeter shooter.

Aside from Thompson, former Winthrop wing Xavier Cooks and ex-Saint Mary’s big Jock Landale are other two players to keep an eye on. The 6’9 Cooks honestly reminds me of Raphaiel Putney with how he’s a tall, skinny athletic player that can confidently handle the ball whether in transition or the half-court. In addition to that, he displays great court vision for a player his size as he averaged 2.2 assists per game during his rookie year with s. Oliver Baskets in the German BBL and Europe Cup. Meanwhile, Landale is a 6’11 rim-running big that had a solid rookie year with KK Partizan of the Adriatic League by putting up 11.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 59% from the field.

San Antonio Spurs Are Filled With G League Alums

For a lot of fans, their focus pertaining to the Spurs Summer League squad will revolve around seeing the progress of Lonnie Walker and Chimezie Metu while trying to see how 1st round pick Luka Samanic will perform in his first game in a San Antonio jersey. Looking away from that trio, their Summer League squad will be filled with that have shined at the G League level, whether it was for Austin or another squad. The group of alums includes; Darel Poirier, Josh Magette, Darius Morris, Drew Eubanks, Ben Moore, Jordan Barnett, Jordan Green, Jeff Ledbetter, and Thomas Robinson.

When it comes to the G League, those players definitely aren’t bums. Magette was a G League All-Star in 2017, Morris has stood as one of the league’s best facilitators since his rookie year while the duo of Moore and Eubanks both shined as fantastic front-court threats during their time as two-way prospects in Austin.

Aside from those four players, one guy to keep an eye on would be Poirier. The 21-year-old french big really started to shine during the closing stages of the G League season. In his final 15 games with the Capital City Go-Go, he put up 13.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1.3 blocks on 56% from the field and 53% from beyond the arc on 1.4 attempts in 24 minutes per game. For a young big that barely played for mid-tier French teams just a year prior, him being able to put up those numbers against solid G League competition definitely makes him an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on.

The Knicks Will Have An Intriguing Team Around RJ Barrett

Aside from Zion Williamson, the one player that fans throughout the world will have their focus on during Las Vegas Summer League will be Knicks rookie forward RJ Barrett. That widespread intrigue comes from the fantastic freshman season he had with Duke and his status as the 3rd overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Working alongside Barrett will be fellow Knicks youngsters Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier, who will all look to show improvements after solid rookie seasons.

In addition to the players on New York’s current active roster, there’s a slew of prospects that deserve attention during Vegas Summer League. From a G League perspective, Zak Irvin and Speedy Smith both stand as intriguing players. Irvin impressed last year with Westchester as a 6’6 wing that can be a dominating rebounder. Just a few weeks, we featured Smith in our “G League Prospects That Could Get Two-Way Contracts” series due to his amazing passing and progression as a perimeter shooter.

The intrigue persists when you look at New York’s undrafted prospects. Former UCLA forward Kris Wilkes stands as the headline act among those players as he’ll enter Vegas as the lone player that the team currently has on a two-way deal. In addition to Wilkes, former Division II guard Amir Hinton, Oregon shot-blocker Kenny Wooten and 2016 McDonald’s All-American VJ King.

Although King and Wooten may be more well-known prospects, Hinton might stand as the most intriguing of the trio. Back in May, we had a piece breaking down his unique skill set that revolved around being able to get to the rim whenever he desired and working in the passing lanes.

Indiana Pacers Will Have An Incredibly Fun Team

While the Knicks and Spurs will both enter Summer League with intriguing teams, the Pacers might honestly have the best all-around roster in Vegas. That status starts to become evident when you look at the main roster guys that the team is going bring in. For starters, Former Fort Wayne Mad Ants guard Edmond Sumner will be playing in Vegas after reportedly agreeing to a long-term deal with the team. Alongside Sumner, the duo of Alize Johnson and Aaron Holiday will also be participating in Summer League.

Holiday had an unspectacular rookie year with the team where he played a grand total of 645 minutes. In that time, he showed flashes of being a solid facilitator as he maintained a 2.2 Ast/TO ratio. Meanwhile, Alize Johnson spent most of his rookie season in the G League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

During that time, he arguably stood out as one of the league’s best forwards as his unique skill set allowed him to average 19.2 points, 13.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 51% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 3.1 attempts per game. With Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young likely to leave the team, Johnson definitely has a chance to be a breakout player next year with the Pacers. Will we see the starting point of that rise in Vegas? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Aside from that trio, there are a handful of other Pacers Summer Leaguers to keep an eye on. Indiana’s 18th overall pick Goga Bitadze is an intriguing 6’11 big that can shine as an excellent roll man and potential pick-and-pop shooter. Meanwhile, two-way prospect Brian Bowen is just two years removed from being a McDonald’s All-American, where he showed promise as a 6’7 forward with a good build and an intriguing pull-up game. Meanwhile, diehard NBA fans may remember 6’5 guard DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell for spending the first few months of the 2018-19 NBA season as a two-way player for Denver.

As is the case for most Summer League teams, the Pacers will have a solid group of G League alums. Through great defense and facilitating, 6’4 guard Cody Demps shined as one of the leaders of a Stockton Kings squad that landed in the G League playoffs. In only 25 games with the Raptors 905, MiKyle McIntosh shined as an athletic forward that can drive to the rim and crash the glass. Louisville alum Jaylen Johnson has showed himself to be a mobile 6’9 forward that can rim-run, facilitate and even shoot from beyond the arc.