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NBA Summer League: Standouts From Opening Weekend

Alex Barutha

Alex writes primarily about the NBA for RotoWire. His work has appeared on CBS Sports, Bleacher Report and other sites. He enjoys both year-long and daily fantasy. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.

Before we dive into what’s been happening in Vegas over the past two days, here is where you can review the statistical leaders from the Utah and Sacramento Summer Leagues.

With the Las Vegas Summer League kicking off Friday afternoon, some players have only participated in one Las Vegas Summer League game thus far. So in some cases, we can use their performance in a previous league to give us context. We’ve already seen four games of Trae Young in Utah and got good looks at Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley in Sacramento.

What we see in Vegas often isn’t a perfect indicator of what we will see come the fall, but at the very least, it can help us gain familiarity with players’ skill sets and potential. Whether you’re preparing for a dynasty league, year-long league or playing summer league DFS, hopefully this information proves useful.

On to Las Vegas.

Of the two-game players, who’s getting the most run?
Henry Ellenson, 34.0 minutes per game. When the Pistons drafted Ellenson 18th overall in 2016, there was hope that the big man’s smooth stroke would translate to the NBA level, despite him shooting under 30 percent during his only year at Marquette. Generally not a good sign, 2017-18 marks his third summer league appearance after seeing the court for just 329 total minutes last season. Though Detroit is seemingly doing everything it can to get Ellenson comfortable, he’s 9-for-38 from the field after Saturday’s effort, which isn’t exactly encouraging.

Who’s putting the ball in the basket?
In terms of made field-goals, Ante Zizic is the leader. He’s also one of only three players to be averaging a double-double in two games (Deandre Ayton, Daniel Hamilton). Zizic, 21, was one of the forgotten about pieces of the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston. The former 23rd overall pick only played 214 minutes for the Cavs last season but averaged 20 and 10 per-36 minutes with over two blocks. Whether or not GM Koby Altman decides to tank next season will probably be the ultimate decider of Zizic’s role and Fantasy viability in deeper formats.

Here’s the list of other players who have made more than 10 field goals on at least 50 percent shooting through two days:

Trevon Bluiett, NOP: 25.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 APG
Jabari Bird, BOS: 19.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 STL
Rashawn Thomas, OKC: 15.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.5 STL
Deandre Ayton, PHX: 15.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.0 BLK
Dakari Johnson, OKC: 15.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.5 STL
John Collins, ATL: 30 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one block, one steal

Who’s grabbing rebounds and blocking shots?
Heading into Sunday’s slate, six players are averaging at least 10 boards and two blocks per contest. The rebounding leader of that group is Willy Hernangomez (16 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, two blocks). Hernangomez, the 35th overall pick in 2015, was dealt to Charlotte last season in exchange for Johnny O’Bryant and two second-round picks. Hernangomez has impressed in limited action throughout his short career -- 16.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and a combined 2.2 steals/blocks per 36 minutes -- though he continues to have trouble finding consistent run. That said, with Dwight Howard no longer in Charlotte, Hernangomez will have an opportunity to battle for minutes at center along with Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo and Frank Kaminsky.

Though he came up one rebound shy, it’s worth mentioning Wendell Carter, who the Bulls selected with the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft. He debuted Saturday, posting 16 points (2-3 3PT), nine rebounds, five blocks, two steals and an assist. Catching comparisons to Al Horford, Carter doesn’t possess elite athleticism, but a diverse, two-way skillset and high-IQ make him an intriguing modern prospect at center. Even if he’s not the Day 1 starter at center for Chicago, it’s hard to imagine Carter in less than a sixth-man role during his rookie campaign.

The other players on the 10-plus boards and two-plus blocks list include:

Christian Wood, MIL: 23 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, one assist)
Isaiah Hartenstein, HOU: 12 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, three steals, one assist)
Jordan Bell, GSW: Six points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, two steals)
Miles Bridges, CHA: Six points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks)
Ivan Rabb, MEM: Nine points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks)

Who’s dropping dimes?
Only five players who have played two games are averaging more than five assists:

Daniel Hamilton, OKC: 11.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 7.5 APG, 1.5 STL
Shaquille Harrison, PHX: 10.0 PPG, 7.0 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.5 STL
Walter Lemon, NOP: 14.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 STL
Pierria Henry, BOS: 8.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 2.5 STL
Demetrius Jackson, PHI: 7.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 STL

Considering Trae Young posted 21 points and 11 assists Saturday, now is a good time to bring him up. Though he still struggled from the field (4-of-12 after going 12-of-52 at Utah summer league), he flashed the playmaking ability Atlanta is hoping translates to the next level -- a great sign after recording 13 assists and 11 turnovers in Utah.

Even optimists will tell you his shot selection is subpar, but summer league can be glorified pickup ball at times. Once he goes through training camp with the rest of the real roster and an air of seriousness, things could get tightened up. In a Fantasy context, I expect Young’s draft position to vary wildly, and that he could prove more useful in points formats under the assumption he’ll struggle from the field as a rookie.

Other notables from all of summer league
Harry Giles exists, and looks good. Giles was at one point the number one prospect in the country, though multiple knee injuries caused him to slip down draft boards last June until the Kings decided to gamble at pick 20. Giles essentially redshirted last year to focus on rehabbing and strengthening his knees, and early indications are that the Kings expect him to contribute next season.

Giles dropped 17 points, six rebounds, five steals and a block Saturday. Marvin Bagley is virtually a lock to start at power forward this season, but after an underwhelming sophomore campaign from Skal Labissiere, Giles could have a clear path to a rotation spot.

Jaren Jackson may end up competing with Mo Bamba on the rookie blocks leaderboard. Jackson is averaging 2.8 swats across 25.5 minutes in four summer league games to go with 14.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 threes per game. He’s expected to slot in as the Grizzlies’ starting power forward alongside Marc Gasol and is a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate.

Malik Monk, CHA: 23 points in first game
Kevin Knox, NYK: 22 points in his debut
Grayson Allen, UTA: 12.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 6.8 APG, 2.3 STL in four games
Furkan Korkmaz, PHI: Erupted for 40 points in his first game
Wayne Selden, MEM: Averaging 22.0 points through three summer league games
Derrick White, SAS: Averaging 22.0 points and 6.5 assists through four summer league games
Aaron Holiday, IND: 16.5 PPG, 5.0 AST, 2.5 STL in two summer league games
Mo Wagner, LAL: 15.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, a combined 3.8 steals/blocks per game and shooting 35.0 percent from three on 47 attempts.

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