NBA summer league 2022 – One player to watch on every team

NBA summer league 2022 – One player to watch on every team post thumbnail image

Although less than a month has passed since the Golden State Warriors won the 2022 NBA Finals in six games over the Boston Celtics, teams are headed to the desert to get their 2022 draft picks and latest signees out onto the court.

NBA 2K23 Summer League is taking place July 7-17 in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. The 75-game event will feature all 30 NBA teams, with each playing five games.

After each team has played four games, the two teams with the best record will play in the championship game on July 17, with the other 28 teams playing consolation games that weekend.

The action began Thursday night, when 2022 No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic faced off against No. 3 pick Jabari Smith and the Houston Rockets. On Saturday, Smith will face No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2) and Banchero will meet No. 4 pick Keegan Murray and the Sacramento Kings (4 p.m. ET, ESPN).

This year’s lottery picks aren’t the only ones set to play in Vegas, as 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman will suit up for the Warriors for the first time since April 2021.

What should fans and teams be looking for from the most interesting prospects at summer league? NBA Insiders Jonathan Givony and Kevin Pelton go team by team, highlighting one player to watch and why.

Chet Holmgren’s summer league debut


AJ Griffin | Forward

The Hawks were likely surprised to see Griffin, at one point considered a potential top-five pick, slide all the way out of the lottery to the No. 16 pick. Griffin can use Vegas to show that teams made a mistake by passing on his intriguing combination of length, dynamic shooting and upside as one of the youngest players in this draft class, and that the concerns about his speed, defensive lapses and struggles creating offense inside the arc are overblown. The Hawks will have plenty of ballhandling on the roster with last season’s second-round pick, Sharife Cooper, in the fold, along with guards James Akinjo and Joel Ayayi, allowing Griffin to focus on what he does best: make shots from all over the floor. — Jonathan Givony


Sam Hauser | Small Forward

Although fans will be most excited about the presence of highlight-reel machine JD Davison, a hugely popular figure online, the player the Celtics front office will be studying most closely is Hauser, who has a chance to carve out a real role in the team’s rotation next year. The 6-foot-8 forward is a career 43% 3-point shooter in the NCAA, G League and NBA, featuring a pure stroke and the ability to hit difficult shots off movement, something the Boston roster sorely lacks. In the wake of a five-for-one trade with Indiana that brought in Malcolm Brogdon, there’s a clear path for Hauser to carve out a real role for himself on the Celtics this season, which is one reason the front office signed him to a multiyear NBA contract this summer after he was on a two-way deal last season. The coaching staff will want to see Hauser show he can get his shot off effectively at the summer league level, while hopefully holding his own defensively as well, which will certainly help his cause in vying for minutes this coming season. — Givony


Cam Thomas | Shooting Guard

The co-MVP of last year’s summer league after posting a scintillating 106 points in 115 minutes of action, Thomas will likely be one of the favorites to repeat as MVP if he plays in enough games. With all the uncertainty surrounding the status of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the 20-year-old scoring machine certainly has a lot to gain by a strong showing in Vegas, not only by demonstrating his tremendous shot-making prowess and ability to draw fouls in bunches but ideally also by putting other parts of his game on display, as well — namely his defense and willingness to make teammates better. Thomas hasn’t always played the most efficient or winning style of basketball, but with a full NBA season under his belt, he has a chance to show the improvements he has made and why he’s worthy of being trusted to play a major role this upcoming season as the Nets possibly begin to transition into a new era. — Givony


Mark Williams | Center

The Hornets are loaded in the frontcourt with last year’s draft picks, power forwards Kai Jones and JT Thor, as well as 2020 draft pick Nick Richards. The most highly anticipated player on the roster will be Williams, the 7-2 center who will be one of the tallest and longest players in the NBA the moment he steps on the floor. It will be interesting to see how quickly Williams adapts to the speed of the professional game and what kind of impact he’s able to make offensively, as Charlotte clearly has a major void at center. — Givony


Dalen Terry | Guard

Terry is the clear headliner of the Bulls roster, especially with Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams not participating. Terry will likely be given the keys to the team and asked to show the versatility as a ball handler and passer that helped him rocket up draft boards throughout the pre-draft process and eventually become the No. 18 pick, far higher than where he was projected when he declared for the draft. The big question Terry will have to answer in the NBA revolves around his scoring ability, after posting just 8 points per game at Arizona, where he tended to fade to the background at times and often looked reluctant to take open shots. With few proven scoring options on this roster, Terry will likely be asked to significantly ramp up his aggressiveness to keep Chicago competitive, which should prove to be a strong developmental tool as he transitions to a new style of play. — Givony


Ochai Agbaji | Forward

Summer league will provide Cavs fans a first look at Agbaji, a lottery pick who could fill a major need on the wing with his outstanding 3-point shooting and excellent physical tools to make him a multi-positional defender. Agbaji will be one of the more seasoned rookies in the NBA this fall, after spending four year at Kansas in which he won a national championship, was awarded Final Four Most Outstanding player honors and became an All-American. This is a chance for him to get more comfortable with the NBA 3-point line and defensive rules. Without many ballhandling options on the Cleveland roster, the team will be looking for him to develop some different facets of his game in his shot-creation and passing ability, which could certainly be beneficial to becoming a more well-rounded player. — Givony


Jaden Hardy | Guard

Hardy, drafted at No. 37 by the Sacramento Kings but sent to the Mavericks in a draft-night trade, should feel comfortable in Las Vegas. He played his high school basketball at Coronado in nearby Henderson, Nevada, before signing with the G League Ignite, who made Vegas their home arena during the Showcase season. Jalen Brunson‘s departure increases the urgency for Dallas to develop Hardy into a secondary shot creator next to Luka Doncic. — Kevin Pelton


Christian Braun | Guard

Denver’s roster is chock-full of names familiar to college basketball fans, including Kentucky’s Kellan Grady and Villanova’s Collin Gillespie, but it was Braun who helped Kansas win last year’s national title before going to the Nuggets with the No. 21 pick. They’ll see whether Braun, a 38% career 3-point shooter for the Jayhawks, is capable of providing wing depth right away. — Pelton


Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren | Guard, Center

The Pistons swung for the fences with both of their lottery picks, taking two of the highest upside prospects in the draft in Ivey and Duren, a tandem that could provide real fireworks in Vegas in the open floor and operating out of pick-and-rolls. Duren was not able to join the team until the draft-night trade with the Knicks was finalized, which might set him back somewhat early on. Detroit included all of its young prospects on the summer league roster, including Cade Cunningham and third-year players Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, but exactly how much those four NBA starters play will dramatically change the roles Ivey and Duren see in Vegas. Scouts and fans alike will be interested to see Ivey unleashed as the Pistons’ full-time point guard, whenever that eventually happens, something we didn’t see much of at Purdue with the Boilermakers’ slow-paced offense. — Givony


James Wiseman | Center

Since Wiseman underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear suffered in April 2021, we’ve seen him play only a handful of G League games during his rehab process. Wiseman wasn’t able to return last weekend for the California Classic, hosted by the Warriors, but the plan is for him to see action in Vegas. That should help Golden State gauge his readiness to contribute after losing a full season of development. — Pelton


Jabari Smith Jr. | Forward

With five first-round picks on the roster — this year’s trio of Smith, Tari Eason and TyTy Washington Jr., plus 2021 selections Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba — Rockets fans will see plenty of summer league players who will be part of the team this season. None is more important than Smith, who unexpectedly slid to the No. 3 pick after being considered the likely top selection throughout the pre-draft process. He’ll be able to begin building pick-and-roll chemistry with Christopher and Washington this summer. — Pelton

The mystery that surrounded the 2022 NBA draft’s No. 1 pick


Bennedict Mathurin | Guard

The Pacers knocked back trade interest from both Sacramento and Detroit to move up in the draft, largely because of their comfort with Mathurin. Mathurin will have a chance to build chemistry with last year’s first-round picks, Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson, before likely emerging as the team’s go-to guy later in the week, alongside No. 31 pick Andrew Nembhard. That should allow us to see different facets of Mathurin’s game, both in an off-ball role, closer to the one he’ll play this upcoming season, as well as with more ballhandling responsibility, which is where he has the most room for growth as a ball handler, passer and decision maker. — Givony


Jason Preston | Point Guard

The Clippers were excited about Preston’s potential as the No. 33 pick last June, but surgery to repair ligament damage in his right foot cost Preston his entire first season as a pro. Although the arrival of John Wall pushes Preston to third on the Clippers’ depth chart at point guard, he’ll surely get opportunities this season, making this a useful time to check in on Preston’s rehab. — Pelton


Scotty Pippen Jr. | Guard

Despite going undrafted, Pippen might have a better chance to contribute to the Lakers this season than No. 35 pick Max Christie, a one-and-done prospect from Michigan State. Pippen, the son of an NBA Hall of Famer and a Los Angeles native, comes in with three years of starting experience at Vanderbilt. Nobody questions Pippen’s ability to score and pressure the ball, but he’ll have to show more willingness to make plays for teammates in order to get on the court this season on a two-way contract. — Pelton


Ziaire Williams | Small Forward

For a contending team, the Grizzlies have a loaded roster this summer thanks to four 2022 draft picks — including first-rounders Jake LaRavia and David Roddy — plus the inclusion of both of last year’s first-rounders, Williams and Santi Aldama. Given Williams started 31 games and played 168 minutes in the playoffs as a rookie, he likely won’t play through Memphis’ full schedule between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. When he is on the floor, summer league will give Williams an opportunity to carry a larger offensive load than during the NBA season. — Pelton


Nikola Jovic | Forward

The first international player drafted in the Pat Riley era since Martin Muursepp in 1996, Jovic will try to show he’s further along than most NBA teams expected when they let him slide all the way to the end of the first round after once being considered a potential lottery pick. That starts on the defensive end, where Jovic will need to show he’s tougher, stronger and more agile on the perimeter than scouts gave him credit for and that he’s willing to bring the intensity needed to hold his own on that end of the floor, something that’s non-negotiable when playing for Erik Spoelstra. It will be interesting to see how Jovic is utilized offensively, whether its as an oversized small forward like he played this past season, as a modern power forward or even potentially as a small-ball center like Nemanja Bjelica — which his measurements suggest he should be able to handle once his frame fills out. — Givony


MarJon Beauchamp | Guard

The Bucks got a much-needed dose of youth and energy by adding their first first-round draft pick since 2018 in Beauchamp. Beauchamp will likely play a very different role in summer league than what he’ll be asked to with the Bucks in the regular season, where he’ll likely be a rim-runner, cutter, offensive rebounder and highly versatile defender who guards everyone from point guards to power forwards. In Vegas, Beauchamp can try to show there’s more to his offensive game than meets the eye in terms of his ballhandling and perimeter shooting, areas of his game where he has room to grow. The Bucks will also get their first look at French guard Hugo Besson, who they selected with the last pick in the draft. Besson is expected to spend this upcoming season overseas, but can begin to endear himself to fans and the coaching staff with the explosive scoring ability and live-dribble passing he offers. How Besson progresses defensively will play a major role in how soon he makes his way over to the NBA. — Givony


Wendell Moore Jr. | Forward

After completing last Friday’s blockbuster trade for All-Star center Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves only have three first-round picks from now until 2030, so Moore — taken No. 29 overall as part of a draft-night trade — is an important part of the team’s future. Moore broke out in his third season at Duke, making 41% of his 3-point attempts after hitting under 30% his first two years, and we’ll see whether that improvement carries over to the longer NBA line. — Pelton


Quentin Grimes | Shooting Guard

Rookies Trevor Keels and Jean Montero will have their ups and downs in Vegas, but the player who will likely play the biggest role in the NBA next season is Grimes. The 6-5 shooting guard showed a lot of promise last season when healthy and given an opportunity, hitting 38% of his 3-pointers and bringing strong energy on the defensive end. The Knicks will look for Grimes to make another jump in his second season, and with no clear-cut starter at the shooting guard position, a good showing in summer league could certainly position him favorably in the pecking order of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation. Fellow sophomore Miles McBride also has an opportunity to show off his growth from his rookie campaign, especially with his ballhandling and decision making. With Jalen Brunson, Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose in the fold, as well as 2022 second-round pick Keels, the Knicks’ point guard position is looking pretty crowded, which puts added pressure on McBride to show he’s better than summer league competition. — Givony


Dyson Daniels | Guard

Like Jaden Hardy, Daniels spent an extended period in Vegas last fall as part of the Showcase season while playing for the G League Ignite. Daniels averaged 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and team highs of 4.4 assists and 1.9 steals, emerging as the Ignite’s top prospect. He was the first of three Ignite players drafted last month, going No. 8 overall to New Orleans. — Pelton


Chet Holmgren | Power Forward/Center

The Thunder will bring four draft picks to summer league, including both Jalen Williams (a wing drafted No. 12 overall out of Santa Clara) and Jaylin Williams (a big man taken at No. 34 from Arkansas). Still, there’s no question Holmgren will be the center of attention after being drafted with the second pick, the highest the franchise has picked since taking Durant No. 2 in 2007 as the Seattle SuperSonics. Summer league will be our first glimpse of how Holmgren’s versatile skill set translates to the NBA, which should include highlight blocks. — Pelton


Paolo Banchero and R.J. Hampton | Forward, Point Guard

The most skilled offensive player in the 2022 draft class, Banchero will likely draw some of the biggest crowds of fans in Vegas to see how his polished shot-creation arsenal translates to the professional level. The Magic’s summer league roster looks set up perfectly for Banchero to shoulder a heavy offensive load and emerge as the devastating force operating as a grab-and-go threat, out of pick-and-roll, isolation sets and in the post, which should give us some nice insight into how Orlando plans on utilizing their prized draft pick. With Jalen Suggs recovering from ankle surgery and Franz Wagner not participating, third-year guard Hampton elected to play summer league. He, too, should have plenty of ballhandling responsibility, and NBA teams will surely be studying how he looks in terms of his passing, perimeter shooting and decision making, as the Magic’s crowded backcourt could make him a potential target for an opportunistic rival team looking for a high-upside candidate on a low salary if Hampton falls out of favor in the rotation. — Givony


Jaden Springer | Guard

Springer played just 19 total NBA minutes last season, less than any 2021 draft pick not on a two-way or stash. A second year mostly spent in the G League or sitting on an NBA bench likely can’t be considered a great sign for his future, despite still only being 19 years old and younger than most of the players who heard their names called in the 2022 NBA Draft. To put himself more firmly in the mix for playing time, Springer will have to show more potential with his outside shot and as a decision maker to earn the trust of his coaching staff, after converting just 24% of his 3-pointers last season and posting a near one-to-one assist to turnover ratio in the G League and summer league. The Sixers won’t need Springer to do too much on a loaded summer league roster featuring plenty of scoring power with the likes of Paul Reed, Isaiah Joe, Charles Bassey, Trevelin Queen, Julian Champagnie, Myles Powell, Filip Petrusev and others vying for minutes and touches. If Springer can show a steady hand running a team, demonstrate some progress with his spot-up jumper and play his typical lock-down defense, he’ll be in a good position going into training camp. — Givony


McKinley Wright IV | Point Guard

In a must-read feature from Kevin Arnovitz before the draft, Suns GM James Jones outlined his philosophy on the limited utility of the draft. In something less than a coincidence, Phoenix has zero draft picks on its summer roster. Ish Wainright is the one returning Suns player on the roster, but there’s an opening for Wright to offer Phoenix depth at point guard after spending last season on a two-way contract with the Timberwolves. — Pelton


Shaedon Sharpe | Guard

Before being drafted No. 7 overall by Portland, Sharpe last played a competitive game during last year’s Nike EYBL AAU tournament. While teams drafting in the lottery got a look at Sharpe during his Pro Day and individual workouts, for the rest of us, this will be the first chance to see how Sharpe progressed during the time he spent at Kentucky working out behind the scenes. — Pelton


Keegan Murray | Forward

The focus on the Kings drafting Murray ahead of Ivey because of fit and Ivey’s interest in playing for Sacramento did a disservice to Murray, who had a credible argument as the better prospect. (My stats-based draft projections had Murray third overall after factoring in his top 100 rank.) Murray showcased his ability to get buckets efficiently during the California Classic, scoring 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting in his debut. — Pelton


Joshua Primo | Guard

The Spurs’ perimeter rotation will be interesting with three wings drafted in the first round over the last two years (Primo in 2021; Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley this June). With No. 9 pick Jeremy Sochan ruled out after a recent stint in the NBA’s health a safety protocols, Primo will be the highest-drafted San Antonio player in action in Las Vegas, giving us a look at how much he’s improved after averaging 5.8 PPG in 19.3 MPG as a rookie. — Pelton


Dalano Banton | Point Guard

Banton saw action in 68 NBA games last year, more than all but two second-rounders (Herbert Jones and Dosunmu), as well as 20 of the 30 players picked in the first round. Despite his busy schedule, he still found time to post gaudy numbers in the G League as well, averaging 26 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in 13 games, scoring efficiently and showing he can impact winning in the process. With no Scottie Barnes or Malachi Flynn to compete with for ballhandling responsibilities, the 6-9 Banton could be in line for a big showing in Vegas, demonstrating his strong playmaking ability and much-improved defensive intensity. To really impress Nick Nurse and help his chances of earning a role for the Raptors, Banton would be well-served to show some progress with his outside shot, an area that’s long been considered the weakest part of his game. Banton went 0-for-12 from beyond the arc in summer league last year, and then converted 29% of his 3-pointers on the season in the G League and NBA. — Givony


Walker Kessler | Center

Because the Gobert trade did not become official until Wednesday, Kessler — who was drafted No. 22 by the Timberwolves — has been unable to play for Utah to start summer league in front of home fans in Salt Lake City. He could be in the mix in Vegas, joining 2021 second-rounder Jared Butler as the lone recent draft picks on a Jazz roster that also features longtime NBA reserve Bruno Caboclo and fan favorite Tacko Fall. Opposing players better beware Kessler and Fall, a pair of premier shot blockers. — Pelton


Johnny Davis | Guard

The Wizards’ backcourt situation looked very different when Davis heard his name called on draft night, as the team has since added Monte Morris and Will Barton in a trade with the Nuggets, signed Delon Wright in free agency, and extended Bradley Beal, giving them plenty of options to choose from. Davis will bolster his chances of carving out a role in the team’s rotation as a rookie with a strong showing in summer league, where he’s likely to play a different role than what we saw in college, where he played in a deliberate offensive scheme without much talent around him. Davis’ perimeter shooting will be a significant point of intrigue, as well as his ability to operate alongside other ball handlers and still make his presence felt with the excellent versatility he brings on both ends of the floor. — Givony




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