• Andy

Fantasy Basketball and NBA Summer League: What's Important? What's Not? and Other Takeaways

Over the past couple of years, it seems that more and more people have begun to pay attention to the NBA Summer League. Whether this is a result of the NBA continuing to grow quickly, how tied into Twitter the league is, or people genuinely excited to watch their team's new prospects, it is hard to deny the excitement in Vegas we saw this summer. With Summer League coming to a close Sunday night, let's take a step back now and look at what is significant and what isn't now that the buzz has subsided and the facts and stats are sitting in front of us to build some takeaways.

H/T NBA.com for the photo.

Scoring Leaders:

1 - Moses Moody - 27.5 PPG - 2 GP

2 - Cam Thomas - 27.4 PPG - 5 GP

3 - Trey Murphy III - 26.5 PPG - 2 GP

4 - Keegan Murray - 23.3 PPG - 4 GP

5 - Quentin Grimes - 22.6 PPG - 5 GP

Honorable Mentions:

- Paolo Banchero - 20 PPG - 2 GP

- Josh Christopher - 19.7 PPG - 3 GP - 26.8 Min/G

- Bennedict Mathurin - 19.3 PPG - 3 GP - 22.4 Min/G

When looking at different stat groups in the Summer League, the first thing you have to remember is the competition level we are looking at here. Sure, you can argue this is a step up over college, but it is also necessary to remember that scoring numbers can be inflated, as well as averages thrown off due to a low game count. Let's take a look at the handful of second-year players that make up this list, as we will see it is a common theme that many of them took a step up and leveraged their NBA experience in this competition.

I think Moses Moody has great scoring ability. Do I think he is going to contribute like this on the Warriors this season, or even the season after? Probably not. A 2 game sample size is also not something to write home about, and we knew this is why the Warriors drafted him in 2021, so there is not a lot of new conclusions to be drawn despite his name being on the top of the list.

When looking at Cam Thomas on the other hand, there is definitely some potential here. Like Moody, we knew Cam was a great scorer coming out of LSU, and he showed out at last year's Summer League as well. His opportunity could come quicker for him in Brooklyn as we continue to monitor the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving situations. If the two superstars do end up staying in Brooklyn though, I think Thomas may be able to grab some extra minutes due to the scoring he can provide off the bench, but he may not be a fantasy-relevant option unless guys are sitting out for rest.

Trey Murphy is a name to monitor in dynasty league formats. The New Orleans Pelicans are poised to make a run in the West with an incredible starting lineup and Zion returning with a healthy foot, which limits Trey Murphy's potential this season. However, his value lies in being able to get you a 3 pointer or two a night on top of a nice addition in steals. You will see Trey's name again in the Steals section, as he added an impressive 2.5 steals per game. His time will come, and I encourage dynasty owners to stay patient with his 3 and D wing potential.

Keegan Murray was by far one of the most exciting names to watch in the NBA Summer League this year, showing doubters why he deserved his selection at number 4 overall to Sacramento. I covered a lot about Keegan in my NBA Draft Betting Preview and NBA Mock Draft, and I still believe he will be a nice complement playing next to Domantas Sabonis helping the Kings space the floor with multiple guys able to handle and shoot the ball. The long-term fantasy upside is obviously there, but I am interested in seeing how high he can fly this season from the jump. Keegan offers great value in Points, 3PTM, Rebounds, and FT%, while sneakily nabbing just over a steal a game in the Summer League.

Finally, the New York Knicks Summer League star himself, Quentin Grimes. Quentin was a decent streaming option in patches last fantasy season, and the rumors are already starting to churn that he will absolutely be included in a deal to Utah if Donovan Mitchell heads to the Knicks. I don't really like Grimes in redraft leagues this year if he stays in New York, but I think the scoring uptick is real and he can provide value in 3PTM as well despite destroying your FG%. He also did not shoot well from the free throw line, at just under 70%, so even if he does get high usage in Utah, I'm not sure of the entirety of value he offers in other stat areas.

The honorable mention section gets me excited as Paolo Banchero was only featured in two games but looked crazy dominant in both. Paolo's odds to win Rookie of the Year went more heavily favorable quickly, after just days before that Chet Holmgren shot up to the favorite very briefly. Josh Christopher and Bennedict Mathurin both looked dominant scoring the ball in low minutes as well, but I believe Mathurin will see the most opportunity between the two and also offers better potential long term with 1.7 3PTM and 10% higher FG% to Christopher.

H/T NBA.com for the photo.

Rebounding Leaders (Must have played all 5 Games):

1 - Tari Eason - 10.4 RPG

2 - Tyrique Jones - 10.2 RPG - 20.8 Min/G

3 - Day'Ron Sharpe - 10.0 RPG - 25.9 Min/G

4 - Jabari Smith - 9.4 RPG

5 - Jabari Walker - 9.0 RPG - 22 Min/G

Honorable Mentions:

- Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (3 GP) - 8.7 RPG - 22.7 Min/G

- Isaiah Jackson (3 GP) - 8.3 RPG - 21.9 Min/G

- Trendon Watford - 7.8 RPG

The rebounding list is interesting as there are varying situations among these 8 players that can be broken out into groups. Tyrique Jones I will start with though, and quickly finish as he is not currently on contract with any NBA franchises. Best of luck to him on hopefully cracking a roster and cashing in a big NBA check.

Trendon Watford and Jabari Walker wrapped up their NBA Summer League campaigns yesterday with a nice Summer League ring, beating the New York Knicks by a lot more than what the final score showed. Watford gathered a great chunk of NBA experience towards the end of last season when the Blazers were tanking, so it is hard to gauge where he fits in the actual healthy roster for Portland after winning the NBA Summer League MVP award. Jabari Walker I have even more doubts on where he fits in with Portland, as he will be beginning his rookie season this fall.

The remaining 5 names on this list get me really excited in dynasty formats. Tari Eason and Jabari Smith were great on the rebounding front, and showed off very similar blocks and steals numbers too both adding up to over 2.5 a game. Last season the Houston Rockets averaged 42 rebounds a game, so it will be interesting to see how this number is impacted with these two and Alperen Sengun leading the way, as a large bulk of those rebounds were provided by Christian Wood and Daniel Thies who have moved on to other teams. Jabari Smith's lackluster scoring was interesting, but not worrying yet as we will really see how much he is used on the Rockets playing off of Jalen Green. It would be a big surprise if Tari Eason averages more points and rebounds than Jabari after year one, so their differentiation in performances in the Summer League are not too noteworthy yet.

Day'Ron Sharpe, Isaiah Jackson, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are all second-year players that can continue to make a leap heading into this year. However, their leaps are largely dependent on the opportunity presented to them. Jeremiah may have the easiest path to minutes in OKC, but it is largely dependent on how they decide to deploy Chet Holmgren. Day'Ron has continued to look strong in Rebounds, Blocks, and FG%, but it is worth noting that he may still take time to get minutes with the Nets bringing back Nic Claxton. Finally, Isaiah Jackson is projecting to be a monster in blocks but will need Myles Turner to make way for him to shine now that there is no DeAndre Ayton to worry about in Indiana.

Photo by Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Assists Leaders:

1 - JD Davison - 8.2 APG - 5 GP

2 - Josh Giddey - 8.0 APG - 2 GP

3 - Jared Butler - 7.3 APG - 4 GP

4 - Cassius Winston - 7.0 APG - 3 GP

5 - Charlie Moore - 6.8 APG - 4 GP

Honorable Mention:

- Paolo Banchero - 6 APG - 2 GP

- Kennedy Chandler - 5.2 APG - 5 GP

Assists are a difficult category to be strong in as many know. Another difficult task is dissecting this list of assists leaders to the relevant few names on this list. We need to see more opportunity in the NBA for Butler, Winston, and Moore to even give much thought to their assist numbers here, so I am OK with leaving them out of the takeaways to follow.

JD Davison is an interesting one in Boston. I don't believe he will crack the squad at all this season despite being the assist leader in Summer League unless we see some injuries. It is worth keeping an eye on him over the next couple of years, as he was proficient in blocks and steals in this competition as well. He is not a prospect I am super high on, but with his two-way contract in Boston we may see him from time to time on the floor, just not in a fantasy-relevant space. He also really looked phenomenal in Summer League, so it will be telling how he reacts on the bigger NBA stage and in the G League this season.

Josh Giddey being a stud in Summer League was not a surprise to anyone. He made his strong impressions on the league towards the second half of last season and will take another step forward this year with Chet to feed the ball to and hopefully a healthy Shai. Not a lot of takeaways to be made on a player who was probably too good for Summer League.

Kennedy Chandler is the only real name on this list that I have some thoughts on. Chandler slid down the board draft night as he is a small body at 6'0 and 171 lbs. Despite his build, I believe he has no real weaknesses in his game and with some time in the NBA he may be able to show that. The Grizzlies could provide him with some opportunity to eventually back up Ja Morant, but with how rich the point guard position is right now in the NBA I am not sure how or where Chandler will be able to find that opportunity besides when people are out. Definitely a name to watch over the coming years.

H/T NBC Sports Boston for the photo.

Steals and Blocks Takeaways:

I want to evaluate the Steals and Blocks section a bit differently, as there are plenty of outliers in these two stats but a few names that are worth taking note of as we head into the next fantasy season and some dynasty drafts happening now.

We have covered the potential that Trey Murphy III and Paolo Banchero offer in fantasy, with both of them averaging 2.5 steals in the Summer League. This does not mean I think they will gather that many steals in the NBA regular season too, but they definitely have the potential to be of value in a steals category where anything above a 1.0 average is worth looking at.

Saben Lee averaged 3.0 steals in 2 games averaging 24.9 minutes a game, and I think it is noteworthy despite the very small sample size. Lee's steals average rose from 0.67 to 0.95 between the 2021 season to 2022 season, with the same minutes per game average of 16.3. He spent a lot of time going back and forth between the G League and NBA last season, and it would not be surprising to see this happen again this year with Cory Joseph and Killian Hayes likely maintaining their backup guard roles in Detroit. Look for Lee to be a solid steals streamer if injuries come down on the Pistons at all next season.

Steals are a hard category to take seriously in the Summer League, so many of the other names in the top of the Player Stats Standings are hard to gauge whether there is value or not. This is because of the skill gaps across players and lack of chemistry between teammates leading to higher turnovers in this type of competition. However, blocks are a little better at looking at and seeing a bit of where the value could be, while taking some with a grain of salt for the exact reasoning I stated above.

Isaiah Jackson and Day'Ron Sharpe are two names I am super excited about for their potential at providing value in blocks for fantasy. I covered them some in the rebounding section, but an average of 3.3 blocks in Summer League from Jackson is absurd, and 1.8 blocks from Day'Ron is respectable as well. As they continue to grow their game in the second-year of their careers, it will be important to watch as they gain more opportunities with their team and being able to capitalize on the minutes they get when starters may be out. I think both big men have a good future ahead in the NBA.

Christian Koloko is another guy who did well getting blocks in the Summer League for the Raptors, averaging 2.2 per game in 5 games. The one worry here is that he did not do much else in any of the other categories. Koloko's story is fascinating coming from Cameroon and his first sport was soccer, and he had a nice career with Arizona. There will be opportunity at the center position in Toronto because they do not have a big man that is consistent or is anything really worth writing home about. He will take time to develop, but could see some potential as Toronto looks to develop him as they have many others over the last several years.

Finally, James Wiseman provided value with blocks in the Summer League, averaging 2.0 blocks in 4 games only averaging 19.9 minutes a game. Wiseman is a solid buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues as he should take a starting role at times in Golden State despite a strong showing from Kevon Looney in the NBA Finals. The Warriors want to continue to develop him, but be careful as the bust potential is still there as is the injury potential he has had for a lot of his career now. It is hard to say where Wiseman could wind up, but he was taken #2 Overall for a reason and only has 39 NBA games under his belt. We still have a lot to see from him, and the block numbers in Summer League are definitely encouraging.

H/T NBC Sports for the photo.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more Fantasy Basketball content, leave a comment below. If you have any feedback feel free to comment as well or tweet @AndyHHSports or @HHSportsHQ. Thanks for reading, and looking forward to watching these young prospects this fall!

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