After watching all the games in the Summer League, I will present to you a ten man team based on their performances in the Summer League. This was really hard to make especially in the point guard position, as there are many great talents that played. After reading this post, let me know your opinions in the comment section at the bottom of the post.
PG: Dennis Smith Jr.
This man right here led the Mavericks far in the tournament. If they didn’t have Smith Jr, they would be out of the competition before it even started. He really led the Mavericks offense, averaging an outstanding 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists. It can almost be compared to a Russell Westbrook type player where athleticism is the main tool in his game. He can explode to the basket in a matter of seconds. He also shows his defensive side of the game, stealing the ball 2.2 times in Summer League action. But the question you may be asking, why did I not choose the Summer League MVP, Lonzo Ball? I understand Lonzo Ball was able to run the Lakers offense a whole lot, however look deeper. Remember his 1st games, where in his first game he shot just 1-11 from 3? Well guess what, this carried on to the end of the Summer League. In the bracket stage of the tournament, against the Cleveland Cavaliers he got a triple double. But if you looked at the statistics, he shot just 6-20! Lonzo Ball didn’t catch my I as much as Dennis Smith, it is just that Lonzo Ball is talked about a lot more because of the news circulating Lavar Ball. However going back to Dennis Smith, he looks like he will become an All-Star in the future.
SG: Donovan Mitchell
You know how badly I wanted to pick Bryn Forbes to play shooting guard? The problem is with Forbes, he won’t be a rookie next year. Forbes played in his second Summer League, as for the Spurs he played 36 games for them in the 2016-17 season. However, Mitchell as a second option isn’t bad at all. Actually, it is outstanding that you can have this much depth, showing that this year’s draft class did really go that deep. Donovan Mitchell played great at the Summer League, making the trade that the Nuggets made on draft night look even worse. Donovan Mitchell has been shooting .318% from the 3, while also showing he can play defense, putting up 4.4 steals in the 5 games he played. He already proved this in college, he had the ability to get on the ACC All-Defensive Team and the ACC All-First Team. Donovan Mitchell reminds me of a Danny Green type player. As you probably know Coach Popovich made Danny Green into a sharpshooter, while also this season he landed onto the All-Defensive First Team. I believe a backcourt of Dennis Smith as your player who uses his explosive ability to drive to the basket and also Donovan Mitchell who is an incredible 3 and D player, would get the job done on the court.
SF: Josh Jackson
This decision was really between Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson. Because of this being a team, I really needed that player to be on the All-Defensive team. Josh Jackson is that caliber player. Yes, he averaged 17.4 points, proving he can do it on the offensive end. But check out the other stats. He showed his athleticism in the Summer League, grabbing 9.2 rebounds agame. As a small forward, he is also getting 1.2 steals and 1 blocks. These stats show he can be an all-around player however the one area he excels at over Tatum is Defense. And you know the quote, “Defense Wins Championships.” That is why I am choosing Jackson over Tatum.
PF: Kyle Kuzma
It is hard not to choose the Finals MVP of the Summer League. In the Summer League, Kuzma averaged an outstanding 21.86 points and also 6.4 rebounds a game. The better statistics for Kuzma is that he shot .514%, and .480% from 3! This pick for the Lakers could turn out to be the steal of draft night. I had doubts whether or not Lonzo Ball was carrying Kuzma. However in the Finals when Lonzo didn’t play, Kuzma shined. That is why he won MVP of the finals that game, he showed he can get it done. Also, the passed 5 Finals MVP were players not selected in the lottery. Who were the players before Kuzma you may ask? Jerian Grant, Jonathan Simmons, Ray McCallum, and Ian Clark. This players have had pretty good NBA careers, a player with a championship ring in Ian Clark and a man who Coach Popovich trained into a great starter for a team in Jonathan Simmons. Quickly I just want to go over Kuzma’s position. I listed him in this team as a power forward, in this team I see him as a Kevin Love type player, a stretch 4. For the Lakers I don’t know where he would fit in the system. You have Ball, Clarkson, Ingram, Randle, and Lopez as your starting 5. I think the Lakers might move Clarkson to the bench, converting Ingram to Shooting Guard. Therefore you would be starting Kuzma at the Small Forward position. However it will take time for him to ease into the Lakers offense. Overall, I believe that Kuzma will put up great numbers for the Lakers in the future, and for this team I want him!
C: John Collins
Let’s be honest, this position had to of been between Caleb Swanigan and John Collins. This pick may be a little different from other people’s opinions, however I am going with John Collins. Caleb Swanigan is a known center, however he is only 6-9. John Collins is a known power forward, however he is actually 6-10, a little more height than his fellow rookie, Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan averaged 16.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks. Collins actually averaged 15.4, 9.2, 0.8, and 0.6. As you can see statistically speaking, Swanigan is a better player, outplaying Collins in 3⁄4 spots. But there are 2 things you have to look at, how a team works and also game time, minutes played. Let’s look at how a team works first. We know that our team has a playmaker that is a slasher, an outstanding 3 and D player, a defensive player to guard top players, and a stretch 4. We need that man who is going to play defense, and rebound the rock. We don’t necessarily need this guy to score. So, Collins is a better fit in terms of blocking shots, and really his all around game is better. Just look at the minutes and see why. Collins played 23.1 minutes while Swanigan played 30.8 minutes. That means per 36 minutes, Swanigan averages about 18.8 points, 12.4 boards, 1.61 steals, and 0.44 blocks a game. On the other hand, Collins averages just about 24 points, 14.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks a game. So really, in 3⁄4 stats Collins is better. Once you do a little math, you can really see who the better performer is. So closing out my team, I will take Collins all day of the week over Swanigan.
6th Man: Lonzo Ball
Yes, the MVP of the Summer League is not starting in my team. Just imagine Lonzo Ball coming of the bench. First of all Lavar Ball would be yelling at the coach about it, however it shows just how stacked the draft class is. Lonzo Ball is an excellent playmaker, however he can’t make the starting lineup if he tries shooting too much. The problem with his game comes down to tendencies. He needs to make sure he isn’t taking contested 3’s. We really see that through the whole Ball family. We see Lamelo Ball in high school shooting way of the mark, however he just keeps shooting. Dennis Smith is smarter with the ball, so I can’t see Lonzo Ball running the team. I want Dennis Smith to pass it to Kuzma or Mitchell, who I trust to take the 3’s on our team. So therefore, Lonzo Ball is the 6th man for our team.
7th Man: Caleb Swanigan
I did want to put him at starting center if it wasn’t for John Collins. So, have him as a bench player. Just imagine Swanigan and Ball coming off the bench. Ball would be throwing oops to Swanigan all day of the week. Caleb Swanigan did get the nod for the All-NBA Summer League First Team. Swanigan for me is a steal for the Blazers in the NBA. He was one of the players that led them to the Finals before they lost to the Lakers. Swanigan is definitely a player I want in my Summer League Rookie Team.
8th Man: Jayson Tatum
Like Swanigan, we did hint that Tatum would be making it into this team. If we do need offensive scoring coming of the bench, we can replace Jackson with Tatum. Tatum in the beginning of the Summer League looked like the best player. However, he did get injured probably because of the 10 foul rule. Tatum is kind of like the Nick Young of the Warriors. If the starters are not shooting the 3 well, you can bring the three point shooting of the bench. You need at least 3 good 2 point shooters on any team or else you won’t be successful. We see Curry, Thompson, Durant, Young, and Casspi on the Warriors. On the Cavaliers we see Irving, Korver, JR Smith, and Kevin Love. On the Spurs we can point out a backcourt of Danny Green and Patty Mills. Any successful team has to have 3 point shooting. That is the main reason Tatum is in our team.
9th Man: Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo has had an incredible Summer League, looking just like Dwight Howard. Adebayo looks like he is 28 years old, he has so much more strength than anyone on the court. Think about the NBA. In the NBA, you need a physical tool set. Players from Europe tend to fail in the NBA because they can’t compete with the massive players. However Adebayo definitely looks like a physical monster. The Heat are going to have an insane lineup, especially an insane front court of Bam and Whiteside. We have Caleb Swanigan as a bench player, however we have no bench power forward player. Therefore I felt that Adebayo was the best option, by a large margin.
10th Man: De’Aaron Fox
In Fox was drafted in another year, he probably would be making the starting 5. However, this draft class is stacked and it is hard to really choose who to use out of all the rookies. Fox is able to turn on the jets at any point in time, as he is the fastest player in this years draft. I keep saying this comparison, but Fox reminds me of John Wall. Every game the comparison seems even more realistic. Fox is set up for an incredible NBA career, playing behind a veteran in George Hill. He is on a very young Kings team, as they have Fox, Mason, Hield, Richardson, Jackson, Labissiere, Giles, Papagiannis, and Cauley-Stein. They also have 3 veterans to show the young players the ropes in Hill, Carter and Randolph. This is a very exciting team to watch in the future and in 3 years time Fox will be leading the offense. Like Dennis Smith, he has the ability to explode and drive to the basket. His jump shooting is a little inconsistent, almost like Elfrid Payton. In the Summer League I noticed he was hitting a lot of mid range shots, some really interesting shots indeed. Search up some of his highlights if you couldn’t watch the games live, Fox really is a player to watch out for. If we need explosiveness, bring Fox in and watch the whole game get taken over by one man. De’Aaron Fox.
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