Best Rookies from the NBA Summer League

The 2021 NBA Summer League recently concluded and fans finally got to see a showcase of their recent draft picks either make their pro debuts or show off their offseason improvements. The 2021 Draft was filled with a lot of late-round talent and many of them have the potential to blossom and fill very key roles for teams contending next season. Nonetheless, the future is bright for this draft class. Here are some of the best performing rookies from this year’s Summer League.

Cam Thomas, 27th Overall, Brooklyn Nets

Coming out of LSU, Cam Thomas was best known for his amazing ability to score on all three levels and score in volume. In college, he was fourth in the nation in scoring, averaging 23 points per game. Not to mention, he was doing all of this as a freshman. Thomas’s transition into Summer League looked seamless as he was able to immediately pick up where he left off at LSU. Thomas finished the Summer League as the league leader in points, with 27 per game. He achieved that by shooting 42/36/84 in those four games. He even showed a solid defensive game, averaging 1.3 steals per game. Thomas also finished the Summer League earning the Co-MVP award. He should fit into an immediately as a scorer off the bench with the Brooklyn Nets.

Nah’Shon Hyland, 26th Overall, Denver Nuggets

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland was unable to get his chance to shine during the NCAA Tournament for VCU due to COVID-19 protocols. But after a strong Combine performance, he was still able to secure himself as a first-round selection. Being the number one option at VCU, Hyland was subject to a number of scoring opportunities at all levels on the floor. Going into his sophomore season, he also made great improvements in his defensive ability. In the Summer League, those scoring opportunities didn’t stop. Bones was able to finish scoring nearly 20 points per game while shooting 46/40/76. His playmaking could use improvement, especially his efficiency when setting up a teammate. But with Jamal Murray expected to miss a portion of the season due to a torn ACL, Hyland’s impact could be immediate for a Nuggets team still looking to make a championship run.

Davion Mitchell, 10th Overall, Sacramento Kings

Davion Mitchell’s incredible tournament run surged him to becoming a top 10 selection mainly due to his incredible outside shooting and defensive ability. Those were just two of the biggest standouts for him during the Summer League. Easily the most impressive aspect of Mitchell’s game is his playmaking. Mitchell averaged 5.8 assists to only 1.4 turnovers, resulting in a 4.4 assist to turnover ratio. 3 is considered to be an elite level in the NBA, Mitchell also shot 47 percent from beyond the arc, something that seamlessly carried over from college. He capped it all off by earning Co-MVP this Summer League season. Mitchell will be the backup point guard behind De’Aaron Fox this season. But his early strides are bright sides for the Sacramento Kings.

Jalen Green, 2nd Overall, Houston Rockets

After being selected as the second overall pick, Jalen Green’s expectations now arise to a future franchise player for the Houston Rockets. His dynamic scoring mixed with efficiency and his defensive ability make him a problem on both sides of the ball for any opponent. Green easily had the best Summer League season in terms of efficiency. He finished scoring 20 points per game on 51/52/93 percentages. League players get major recognition for finishing with just 50/40/90. There will be very few players in this league who will be able to make a decent attempt containing his offensive ability. His playmaking was passable but that’ll be a major focus of improvement throughout this season. For now, expect some major scoring numbers from Green throughout the regular season as he hopes to turn around the Rockets to success again.

Chris Duarte, 13th Overall, Indiana Pacers

Experience paid off for Christ Duarte after choosing to stay all four years at JUCO and the University of Oregon. He was a major riser throughout the draft and peaked at 13th overall. His Summer League performance proved his rise to be worth it for the Pacers. The biggest standout of them all is his defensive awareness and ability. Duarte boomed averaging 2.5 steals per game and 1.8 blocks per game. Those numbers are almost unheard of no matter the size of a player. His three-point shooting was also outstanding, hitting at a clip of 48 percent. Duarte is already showing the organization that he is the perfect plug and play guy that’s already looking like he’ll make a fast impact in the rotation.