All-Star Analysts

Summer League: Sophomores who stole the show

Published July 26, 2022, 9:00 AMIsaac Go

Aside from rookies, returning Summer League players also took the opportunity to showcase their skills in Las Vegas.

Every year, teams and fans gather together from different cities to watch the Summer League, an avenue where fans can have their first glimpses at the recently drafted rookies. But that is not the only reason for the NBA to hold a Summer League. Teams send their young talents to get extra time to improve against high-level competitions and for other players to convince NBA teams that they do deserve a contract outright or even a training camp invite. 

Here are some of the standouts from this year's Summer League. As a disclaimer, I won’t mention rookies that were recently drafted. Instead, I’ll talk about returning players who have either played in the league or have had Summer League experience.  

Ziaire Williams

I am a big De’Anthony Melton fan. So last season, I was frustrated that the Grizzlies would play Williams over him, but as the year progressed, there were glimpses of what Memphis saw and it was even more evident in the Summer League. 

Williams bumped not only his scoring (12.5 to 15.8 ppg) and assists (1.25 to 4.40 apg) but also his efficiency across the board from the previous Summer League. He’s shown the ability to carry a heavier workload and that he can be efficient with it. Given that he is only turning 21 years old in a few months, he could be a crucial piece for this young Grizzlies squad looking to make their mark in the Western Conference. 

Mac McClung

Being one of the most successful high school players from the state of Virginia, McClung’s career hasn’t taken off, but this year's Summer League has allowed him to prove who he truly is. 

McClung has shown that he is now more comfortable with the physicality and speed of the NBA and this is evident in his efficiency. He shot an abysmal 25 percent from the field and 0.71 percent from 3 in his first time around. This year, it was almost 50 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3, which is a significant jump. 

He also doubled his scoring, assist, and steal numbers and did it with a visibly better and tighter handle. He's starting to show a more well-rounded game and to think he did this on a team with James Wiseman, Moses Moody, and Jonathan Kuminga. He was so impressive that the Warriors offered him a one-year deal to join them and hopefully he’s able to carry this momentum into training camp.  

Josh Giddey

Josh Giddey has no reason to be playing in the Summer League. Rookies that performed well in the previous season don’t play the following summer, but he still did and showed he was the man. 

Giddey’s stats were impressive – almost 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists –  but that doesn’t even tell the whole story. There are players who control the game with their dribbling, but Giddey does it with passing. He has so much pace in his game that he’s like a conductor controlling the game. 

There are still questions regarding Giddey’s outside shooting, but the way he plays the game is so beautiful that he will surely be a pro for a long time. It also doesn’t hurt that he got some extra run with No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren and they seem to have developed a chemistry both on and off the court. 

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