The NBA Summer League is the association’s annual summer showcase, where basketball players from all walks of life, lace up their sneakers and play in front NBA and international personnel trying to make a name for themselves.
In particular, this summer, all the attention has been on top picks Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, and Kris Dunn. However, there has been three players, who are playing or played in the NBA D-League that is putting the NBA on notice, showing that they can play at this level.
1. Brandon Paul: A lot of hoops fans, particularly college hoops fans may remember Paul from his time at the University of the Illinois. After playing all four years at the University of Illinois, Paul went undrafted in 2013 and had stints playing in Russia, the NBA D-League with the Canton Charge, and recently this past season with FIATC Joventut of the Spanish ACB League.
After playing with FIATC Joventut, Paul came into the summer league with a point to prove and he’s done that thus far. In the Orlando Pro Summer League, Paul hooped it up with the Charlotte Hornets and played excellent on a team that had players such as Aaron Harrison, Tim Quarterman, and DeShaun Thomas. Paul stood out in Orlando, averaging 12.2 points and shooting 37.5 percent from three-point range.
His three-point shooting may help his cause in making an NBA roster as we’ve seen the league become more of a perimeter game. Then, after playing with the Hornets in Orlando. Paul is now playing with the Philadelphia 76ers in the Las Vegas Summer League.
With the Sixers, Paul has continued his hot shooting from behind the arc, knocking down 36 percent of his shots.
Paul is showing league executives that he can be a catch and shoot knockdown shooter, which is a need in today’s game. Let’s hope that his performance this summer, does not go in vain.
2. Keifer Sykes: If you have not watched the Golden State Warriors summer league team this month, you are missing out. On a team that has A.J. English, Patrick McCaw, Mamadou N’Diaye and Thomas Walkup, little guy Keifer Sykes has made the most of his time in Las Vegas.
Sykes, who comes in at 5-foot-11 and 167 pounds, plays with heart and is a tough guard to defend on both sides of the ball. In the Las Vegas Summer League with the Warriors, Sykes is averaging 14.0 points, 2.8 assists, and 2.6 steals in 25.7 minutes per game. If you aren’t familiar with Sykes’ game, he also played in the D-League this past season with the Austin Spurs.
With Austin, he averaged 12.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while also shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from three-point range, leading the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals.
As I mentioned earlier, don’t let his height fool you because he can get up and throw down a mean dunk.
According to Roster Resource, the Warriors currently have 14 players on their roster, meaning they have one spot left. The last roster spot could convincingly go to Sykes as he would be a nice fit in the Bay Area.
3. Briante Weber: Finally, Briante Weber, another D-League guard, is playing phenomenal basketball this summer. Many college hoops fans remember Weber’s play from his time at VCU being a floor general and playing in former head coach Shaka Smart’s havoc defense. During Weber’s senior year, he suffered a devastating knee injury that forced him to go undrafted in 2015.
Despite, going undrafted, Weber has put the NBA on notice, especially with the season he had with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the D-League affiliate of the Miami Heat. Weber averaged 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 28.8 minutes per game with Sioux Falls, helping them to the best record in league history and a D-League championship.
The NBA took notice of his play and Weber late this past season was offered a 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzles and actually started in a couple of games. After his quick cup of coffee with the Grizzlies, Pat Riley and the Heat made sure to keep Weber a part of their organization for the long haul, signing him to a three-year deal.
With that multi-year deal in mind, Weber has played excellent basketball this summer in both the Orlando Pro and Las Vegas Summer Leagues. In Orlando, he averaged 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game.
Currently in Las Vegas, he is averaging 11.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game and is a threat on any given night to post a double-double.
These three players in particular are what the NBA Summer League is all about. Guys making the most of their opportunities and showing everybody in the gym that they are NBA caliber players.