NBA Summer League is here again. Aside from hardcore basketball junkies just getting their last fix in before having to wait until the fall, the games will almost exclusively be watched by reporters and team staffs. The outcomes of these games mean nothing, and player performance, especially of the top rookies already with a secure roster spot, means very little.
There is value in watching these games however, as it can give some insight into how rookies are transitioning to the NBA level. In a first round that was loaded with Pac-12 talent, it's helpful to see how the former stars of the Conference of Champions are doing.
The number one pick had a solid outing in his debut for the 76ers with 17 points, 3 blocks, and a steal. However he only shot a poor 6-16 from the field, but shot a much more reasonable 2-5 from three. The next game vs the Utah Jazz was much more a trademark Fultz game, finishing with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was getting the hang of NBA basketball until he went down with an ankle injury in the next game. He is apparently fine, but we will likely have to wait until the actual season to get to see Fultz suit up again.
Ball might be the most hated person in this year's draft, and his debut performance shows just that. Ball was ridiculed after only shooting 2-15 from the field, and 1-11 from three. He finished with 5 points in the Lakers' narrow overtime loss to the Clippers. Ball's shooting didn't improve much in his next outing, but he did have much more of an impact with an 11-11-11 triple double. Ball has looked like a great all-around player so far, but his scoring will have to improve if he really wants to make an impact on the league.
The 9th overall pick from Arizona has been all over the place this Summer League. He started off with a solid 14 points and 8 rebounds in a 91-75 Chicago Bulls' loss to Dallas. Two days later against Atlanta, however, Markkanen was held to 1-13 shooting, including 0-10 from three, but he did manage to block four shots. His latest game however, was his best yet, finishing with a 20-10 stat-line in a victory over the Washington Wizards. The potential is still there for the 7-footer from Finland.
The power forward out of UCLA did not play in two of the Indiana Pacers' five summer league games, but played a big role in the ones he did. Leaf scored in double figures in two of the games, and even managed 19 points and 10 rebounds in his second appearance. His worst game came in Indiana's only loss of the Summer League, but the 18th pick is looking like a solid addition to a rebuilding team.
Kuzma is teamed up with Lonzo Ball in Los Angeles. The 6-9 forward out of Utah wasn't nearly the prospect that Ball was, but he may have put together the most impressive game so far out of all the Pac-12 rookies, with 31 points and 9 rebounds against the number three pick Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics. One of the biggest questions for Kuzma was his ability to hit the three at the NBA level, and hopefully his shooting 5-10 from three in that same game against the Celtics is a sign of a step in the right direction.
White had a long road to the NBA, starting off playing Division II college ball before moving up to Colorado for his senior season. White managed to play his way into a late first rounder to the San Antonio Spurs. White's stats haven't jumped off the page, but he has scored in double figures in two of his three games. In other words, he's already acclimated to the Popovich system and it's only Summer League. See you at your Hall of Fame speech.