The Biggest and Boldest Moments from the NBA’s Summer League Session

The future of the league showed out in Vegas

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Last night marked the end of another exciting NBA Summer League session. Although the off-season was red hot, it was the intense play by the undrafted rookies and league veterans that made the Summer League a can’t-miss event, as these players competed for the few remaining NBA roster spots.

But fans should be excited about some other things after watching what took place in Vegas. Here are our takeaways from watching this year’s NBA Summer League.

R.J. Barrett Turns It Around

A slow shooting start by the Knicks’ RJ Barrett had everyone wondering if the kid is really ready for the big leagues. But Barrett was able to compose himself and show why he was named USA Today’s Player of the Year in his only season at Duke by lighting up the stat sheet during the final three games of the Summer League season. He finished this summer averaging 15.6 points on 33.4% shooting—which included a near triple-double performance against the Wizards.

Meanwhile, second-year studs Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson are looking like the real deal, with Robinson being named to the Summer League Second Team thanks to his aggressive play on both sides of the floor. Knick fans should be excited for the upside the young center brings to the Knicks.

Memphis Grizzlies: Playoff Bound?

In the championship game, the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-92 to win their first NBA Summer League title. They were led by Summer League and Championship MVP rookie Brandon Clarke, who finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds. The 21st overall pick from Gonzaga had four double-doubles in the tournament without the help from their new star point guard Ja Morant, who missed the session due to injury.

After a terrific display during their time in Vegas, we gotta ask: Is Memphis playoff-bound?  History is on their side. Last year the Portland Trail Blazers won the Summer League and went on to become the third seed in the NBA Playoffs’ Western Conference. With veterans, Andre Iguodala and Joakim Noah meshing with young talents such as Jaren Jackson Jr., Clarke, and Morant, the Grizzlies have the potential to shock some teams during the season and may sneak into the playoffs as a dangerous eighth seed.

Jarrett Allen, Rising

All hoops insiders and critics had one question regarding the Brooklyn Nets during the Summer League: Why in the hell is Jarrett Allen playing in Las Vegas?

The answer is simple: to gain confidence in himself to develop maturity on the court and to build a rapport with his younger teammates. Just months ago, he was a young shot-blocking talent who was a major force on the defensive side as the Nets surprised the league as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. During the first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, he struggled to maintain his ground and composure against All-Star center Joel Embiid. 

But those struggles went away as his game and presence became a lot more noticeable on the floor in Vegas. En route to being named to the Summer League First Team, Allen averaged 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. His length and the competitive fire he brings every night will come in handy for Kyrie Irving as Kevin Durant continues to rehab the injury he suffered during the NBA Finals.

Most importantly, Allen’s dominating play will bring some swagger to a young but experienced Nets squad who will be positioning themselves to bring a title back to Brooklyn.

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