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Hot Or Not: 2018 NBA Summer League Rookies Edition

Which first-round pick is rising up or falling flat?
by Miggy Dumlao | Jul 8, 2018
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This year's NBA draft class was considered a strong one, with popular prospects and future All-Stars being the hot topic. Of course, we can't really judge these players until they step on the court against fellow NBA talent.

While the Summer League is far from the actual league, with wide-open play and defense seemingly optional, it's still a professional setting with legitimate competition. These rookies may have been a class above student-athletes, but the offseason tournament is the first real test in their playing career.

Who's turning heads and making heads shake from this year's batch of newcomers?

Hot: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies, No. 4

Jackson may be the rawest among the Top 5 selections, but he may also have the highest ceiling. At 6'11", he can stroke the three and lock down defensively. That's what he's been doing all summer for the Grizzlies: blocking shots, holding his own against guards, and draining eight threes in his debut.

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If he continues to develop his inside game with the help of Marc Gasol, Jackson has the potential to become Memphis' next franchise cornerstone and even an All-NBA player.

Not: Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks, No. 5

Young, who was traded by the Dallas Mavericks for Luka Doncic on draft night, set collegiate basketball on fire—he led the nation in points and assists per game last season, and was touted by some as the next Steph Curry.

So far, not so good.

He is shooting a horrible 23.1% from the field, while his total turnovers (11) cancel out his assists (13). Young looks undersized, plain and simple. If he struggles against bottom-tier players this early, what more against the elite guards that populate the NBA?

Hot: Grayson Allen, Utah Jazz, No. 21

A gifted scorer who has a history of tripping and flopping, Allen has lottery talent but was only taken by Utah late in the first round. 

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While he has yet to find his touch (6-29 fg, 21%), the man has been stuffing the stat sheet (14 rebounds, 15 ast) in the two games he's played. Allen's intensity, which has been reminiscent of Donovan Mitchell, has also benefited him on defense (4 stl, 1 blk). His moneymaker will come around soon. For now, the Jazz must be happy about his versatility.


Not: Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings, No. 2

Always considered as an athletic freak whose skills need some catching up, Bagley is living up to that description so far. His measly averages—8.7 pts on 31% fg and 5.3 reb—are simply unacceptable for someone with those physical gifts.

Bagley is still one of the best players from this draft, but he needs to improve on the mental aspect of the game.

Hot: Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio, No. 18

Armed with a smooth jumper and ridiculous hops, all contained in a body that can handle three positions, Walker will be a valuable piece for San Antonio whether they lose Kawhi Leonard this offseason or not. He has been playing within the Spurs system and isn't looking lost. Save for shaky shooting, Walker has contributed in almost every other area.

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His team has been the most well-run organization for decades now and finding talent like Walker has been a major reason why.

Hot: Moritz Wagner, Los Angeles Lakers, No. 25

Wagner was thought of as a reach in the first round due to his lack of athleticism and defense. People may have overlooked how good he is at everything else, especially when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop.

His shot has been as good as advertised, and ball-handling has been a great weapon on the break for the Lakers. Wagner's offense will compensate for his deficiencies and solidify his place as a rotation staple.


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