It’s been non-stop in the NBA this year. A condensed schedule led to a rushed offseason, and in the blink of an eye, Summer League was tipping off.
The quality of Summer League play has been very high. Where top picks have sat out in previous years, the NBA Las Vegas odds for the 2021 Summer League have featured the stars of the draft. Several second-year players have shown great development from their rookie years, too.
Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs have all been in action. Cunningham was just as polished as advertised, while the raw scoring talent of Green didn’t disappoint.
Here are the key things we’ve learned from Summer League.
Mobley the Playmaker
Cleveland is hoping Evan Mobley is the future of their franchise. There’s upside in their young core of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro and Jarrett Allen, but Mobley has true star potential.
The former Trojan looked the real deal in Summer League action. The Cavs let him run the offense often, similar to the role he had when he was dominating college basketball.
Handling in the pick-and-roll, picking out teammates and showing great touch at the basket, Mobley lived up to the hype.
Davion Mitchell is for real
There was skepticism about Davion Mitchell ahead of the draft. Despite college success, Mitchell was a divisive prospect. Standing at just 6’0, his size had people concerned, and his age made some question the upside.
It hasn’t taken long for the Baylor product to show he can thrive in the NBA. The defense played on James Bouknight was enough to give established point guards nightmares. Mitchell’s unshifting desire to win was evident in college, and it’s clear much of his game will translate to the NBA.
Knicks Youngsters Shine
Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin looked too good for their competition at Summer League.
Quickley appeared stronger against physical defenders. He was more patient as a ball handler, opening up even more of his game as a scorer.
Toppin looked good in the playoffs, a trend he continued in Summer League. The challenge is role with him. Tom Thibodeau slotted Toppin as a shooter at the four last season, but if he’s to flourish at Madison Square Garden, Thibodeau needs to primarily use the second-year forward as a screener to open up his pick-and-roll and pop game.
Celtics Depth Improves
A series of swing-and-miss draft picks has cost the Celtics. Danny Ainge didn’t trade his haul of draft assets. He opted to make the picks instead, and rather than bolstering the roster, it left the team looking cluttered by players who weren’t ready for the NBA.
The performances of Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith in Summer League give hope for Boston in 2021/22. Pritchard and Nesmith looked to have made a step up. If they have, it makes a real difference to Boston’s depth in the coming season.
Nesmith showed better decision making, while Pritchard made a marked leap in his off-the-dribble playmaking, averaging over eight dimes per game. Look out for these two being key pieces for the Celtics this year.