2022 NBA Summer League: Players to watch for on every team originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
NBA basketball is returning to the court, but you won’t be seeing the likes of LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo playing just yet.
The 2022 NBA Summer League is almost here, a 10-day event in which teams of drafted and undrafted rookies, other youngsters and sometimes former veterans compete in order to stand out and earn a spot on an official 15-man roster (not counting the extra two slots for two-way players).
With plenty of promising talent vying to stand out, just which players in particular should you be watching for? Here’s a team-by-team look for the players to watch during the 2022 NBA Summer League:
AJ Griffin, Atlanta’s 2022 first-round pick, is at the top because of his age, potential and fit with the Hawks. But the two guys to hone in on are Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper, the franchise’s two picks last year. Johnson came out of Duke and still has potential as a two-way forward while Cooper is a more raw version of star Trae Young. Another player is Tyrese Martin out of UConn, who the Hawks picked up as an undrafted rookie this year. The 6-foot-6 wing shot 43% from deep last season and could prove his rise in 3-point percentage was not a fluke.
Boston has two guys worth monitoring. One is JD Davison, the team’s lone pick in 2022 at No. 53 overall. The Celtics needed another young ball-handler to develop, and he could be that guy. The other is Trevion Williams, an undrafted rookie this year out of Purdue. The 6-foot-10 big has underrated vision and passing skills that could see him make some highlights throughout the tournament.
The Nets don’t have the strongest roster on paper, but two names who could emerge from the group are Alondes Williams and Donovan Williams. The former Williams broke out in a big way after moving from Oklahoma to Wake Forest and averaged 18.5 points as a junior. The latter Williams also saw success after switching from Texas to UNLV, where he shot 43.6% from deep as a junior, albeit on low volume.
Charlotte has numerous names that could make some noise. LiAngelo Ball is the most prominent name, while rookies Mark Williams and Bryce McGowens also stand out. Last year’s first-round pick, Kai Jones, also hopes to improve after a quiet rookie season, and an underrated name could be Brady Manek. The UNC product was vital to the team’s national championship run as a stretch big, and the Hornets could benefit from someone like him on the main roster.
The Bulls’ main guy is 2022 first-round pick Dalen Terry. Outside of him, there is Makur Maker, cousin of 2016 No. 10 overall pick Thon Maker. He was a former five-star recruit and is coming off a stint with the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League.
Ochai Agbaji is the headliner for Cleveland after being the final lottery selection in 2022. Besides him, another fun story is Isaiah Mobley, older brother of Evan, Cleveland’s No. 3 overall pick last year. Mobley could carve out a role as a rotational center with the same team as his brother, so having a good Summer League will be crucial.
Dallas could have a major steal in No. 37 overall pick Jaden Hardy. He generated buzz as a lottery selection after spending time in the G League, but his stock fell considerably after posting unimpressive numbers. The Mavericks need another young creator alongside Luka Doncic with Jalen Brunson leaving, and Hardy could prove he shouldn’t have been drafted that low. Another sleeper name is Marcus Bingham Jr., a 7-foot shot-blocker out of Michigan State who shot 41.5% from deep last year but on low volume.
The Nuggets improved their wing depth with Christian Braun and Peyton Watson being the team’s two first-round picks this year, though Watson is still raw. The sleeper name here is Collin Gillespie, the sharpshooting guard out of Villanova. He made 41.5% of his 3-pointers last year on 7.2 attempts per game. The Nuggets saw what Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland could do as a young microwave scorer, and Gillespie could be next in line.
The Pistons should be in the running to win the tournament. Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Livers and Saben Lee are all on the squad – that’s basically their main roster from last year minus Ivey and Duren. Undrafted rookies who look promising are microwave scorer Kameron McGusty, UCLA wing Jules Bernard and the Boeheim Brothers, Buddy and Jimmy, out of Syracuse.
Golden State Warriors
Could the Warriors add another trophy to the cabinet? It’s a raw roster compared to Detroit, but the talent is there. Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are last year’s lottery picks while Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Gui Santos were in the 2022 draft class. Ryan Rollins, however, is out with a foot injury. The biggest name, though, is 2020 No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury. Now is the time for him to knock off the rust.
Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun will not play in Summer League, but 2021 picks Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher are names to watch. Then 2022 first-rounders Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason and TyTy Washington Jr. round out the roster as a general sleeper team that could make a big run.
Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson, Indiana’s two first-rounders in 2021, are the big names, while 2022 No. 6 overall pick Bennedict Mathurin is also a key figure to the roster. Sleeper names here include Kendall Brown, a potential first-rounder this year who fell to No. 48, and Fanbo Zeng, one of the top prospects coming out of China.
Los Angeles Clippers
Michigan big man Moussa Diabate was the Clippers’ lone pick in 2022 in the second round. Then Brandon Boston Jr., Jason Preston and Jay Scrubb are the other names to watch. Preston missed all of last season with a foot injury, while Scrubb is fighting to maintain his two-way contract after not shooting the ball well during his tenure with the franchise.
Los Angeles Lakers
Sons of former NBA stars are the main attraction for the Lakers: Shareef O’Neal and Scotty Pippen Jr. Both were signed immediately as undrafted rookies. Then there’s Max Christie out of Michigan State at No. 35 overall and Cole Swider out of Syracuse, who shot 41.1% from deep on 6.0 attempts per game as a senior. Austin Reaves, an undrafted standout from last year, will not be playing.
The Grizzlies’ roster is oozing with budding talent. Ziaire Williams and Xavier Tillman Sr. are the guys who became rotational players while the jury is still out on 2021 No. 30 overall pick Santi Aldama. Then there are 2022 draftees Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, Kennedy Chandler and Vince Williams Jr., who could all become rotational players of their own in due time.
Omer Yurtseven came on strong last year with the Heat and is on the roster this year. Nikola Jovic was the team’s lone draft pick this year at No. 27 overall, while Orlando Robinson and Jamaree Bouyea are undrafted rookies that could become hidden gems, as Miami often uncovers.
MarJon Beauchamp and Hugo Besson are the Bucks’ 2022 picks, with the former being the big one to watch. Sandro Mamukelashvilli, a 2021 second-rounder last year, is another guy to keep tabs on since he can shoot, handle the ball and pass extremely well from the center position. He just needs more seasoning to put it all together, and this will be a good test to see if he’s closer to being ready.
Minnesota’s roster had a minor shakeup with Walker Kessler and Leandro Bolmaro heading to Utah in the blockbuster Rudy Gobert trade. Beyond them, there is 2022 first-rounder Wendell Moore Jr. out of Duke and second-rounders Josh Minott and Matteo Spagnolo.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have a really fun group on paper. Herb Jones won’t be playing after his breakout rookie campaign last season, but Trey Murphy III and Jose Alvarado are on the roster. Those two came up big for the team against the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs. Dyson Daniels is the franchise’s No. 8 overall pick, while E.J. Liddell dropped to No. 41 despite being touted as a first-round guy. Dereon Seabron and John Butler Jr. are two undrafted rookies that could make some noise, as well.
New York Knicks
The Knicks punted out of this draft to focus on future ones, but Trevor Keels from Duke was selected in the second round. Keels, along with 2021 first-rounder Quentin Grimes, are the marquee names on a relatively shallow roster. Jean Montero is the undrafted prospect to watch. He played with the Overtime Elite last year and had buzz as a late first-rounder throughout the draft process but ultimately fell out of it when other prospects emerged.
Oklahoma City Thunder
There’s no shortage of young talent on this roster, that’s for sure. Oklahoma City’s 2022 haul included Chet Holmgren, Ousmane Dieng, Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams. All four could be important players. Josh Giddey and Tre Mann are on the roster after impressing during their rookie campaigns last year, while Gabe Brown is the undrafted forward to watch. Brown is a 6-foot-8 prospect out of Michigan State who has a 3-and-D archetype that NBA teams love.
Paolo Banchero is the obvious headliner here as the 2022 No. 1 overall pick. Caleb Houstan out of Michigan could be a future 3-and-D rotational player for the team, while R.J. Hampton, a 2020 first-round pick, is also hoping to impress.
The Sixers traded their first-round pick this year, but 2021 first-rounder Jaden Springer is looking to breakout this season in a position of need for the franchise. Julian Champagnie, a 6-foot-8 prospect out of St. John’s who went undrafted, is the other guy to watch here.
The Suns roster isn’t looking too hot, which was likely going to be the case after the team took a while to announce the official list. One of the names that pop is Vrenz Bleijenbergh. The 21-year-old forward went undrafted last year, but he’s a 6-foot-10 guy who shot 37.5% from deep on 4.8 attempts in the EuroCup in 2020-21.
Portland Trail Blazers
Everyone wants to know about Shaedon Sharpe, the biggest mystery of the draft class. The No. 7 overall pick this year will get the chance to show who he can be in Las Vegas as the pioneer on the Trail Blazers’ roster. Jabari Walker out of Colorado was the second-to-last pick in the 2022 draft and is a 6-foot-9 forward who could develop into a solid, two-way glue guy for a franchise that desperately needs more of those. The Blazers have addressed some of those holes in free agency, but you can never have enough quality wings and forwards in the modern NBA.
The 2021 Summer League champions will be looking to repeat with No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray leading the way. Keon Ellis and Jeriah Horne are two undrafted guys that could very well push for a roster spot on the Kings. Ellis could become this year’s Herb Jones if he strengthens his frame – and both came out of Alabama. However, last year’s No. 9 overall pick, Davion Mitchell, will not play this time around.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have three 2022 first-rounders that bode well for Summer League: Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley. Joshua Primo, last year’s surprising lottery pick, is another one to watch to see how his development has come along as he was one of the youngest prospects in the 2021 draft class. Sasha Stefanovic and Joe Wieskamp are two wings who can shoot the lights out, so look out for them to get the nets rolling.
Christian Koloko was the Raptors’ lone pick in the second round this year and fits exactly the type of player they love: lengthy wings and bigs who can defend all five positions. The undrafted guy to watch here is Ron Harper Jr., a two-way wing out of Rutgers who shot 39.8% from deep last year on 5.3 attempts per game.
The Jazz did not have any picks this year, but Johnny Juzang out of UCLA and Kofi Cockburn out of Illinois were potential second-round picks that were picked up after the draft. One might think 2022 first-round pick Walker Kessler will be added to the roster after Minnesota sent him to Utah in the Gobert trade.
Johnny Davis is the shining prospect on the roster after the Wizards took him at No. 10 overall. After him, Isaiah Todd, the 31st overall pick last year, could use some momentum after a rough rookie season in the few games he appeared in. Kris Dunn, the fifth overall pick in 2016, is also listed as he hopes to make an NBA roster again.