The Cleveland Cavaliers are champions… of the NBA Summer League.
Cleveland beat the Houston Rockets on Monday in a 5-0 battle of two teams that stood out during the 10-day tournament in Las Vegas, with Isaiah Mobley, Sam Merrill and Emoni Bates posting A-plus performances for the title.
It concludes what was another exciting run that showcased potential future stars, ranging from 2023 first overall pick Victor Wembanyama to more hidden names like the Denver Nuggets’ Hunter Tyson.
Players like Tyson, a second-round finalist in 2023, needed every minute of the competition to improve their position in their respective team’s pecking order. Some stood out from the crowd, while others weren’t always up to the task.
But it’s important to note that summer league isn’t always a true barometer for potential NBA success, so the players who struggled now, especially the 2023 first-rounders, could change over time.
So let’s take a look at 10 players who optimized their chances in Las Vegas, ranked in no particular order:
Javon Freeman-Liberty, Chicago Bulls
Chicago had a problem in its shooting department last season, lacking a complete profile. Some were defensive specialists, others were pure shooters. Neither really brought both to the table.
That could be different with Freeman-Liberty, a box native who illustrated crisp potential for multi-level shooting on and off the ball, downhill plays and defensive promise. His overall movement is still more rigid than fluid than elite guards display, but he could give the Bulls something different on the perimeter.
Hunter Tyson, Denver Nuggets
When you have Nikola Jokic as your two-way anchor, you don’t have to do much more than excel in your role, especially on offense in this case. Tyson, the 37th pick overall in 2023, displayed raw shooting abilities, mostly from long range, as he connected on 50% of his 7.2 attempts per game.
By summer league standards, that’s very impressive, even more so when you consider it was his average through five games played. Time will tell how he would hold up defensively, but there could be a role for him on this current Denver team as a backup 3-point specialist. The off-the-ball movement of him and the overall offensive IQ of him could easily be paired with the Joker.
Julian Strawther, a 2023 first-round pick, also showed promise for Denver.
Keyonte George, Utah Jazz
Unlike most of his counterparts who made this list with four or five games to their credit, George played in only three. He stressed that he could be a primary shooting guard for a team in the future, and luckily for him, he’ll be competing on a Jazz team that would benefit from the added competition in that venue.
This year’s No. 16 overall pick is a hybrid scorer and playmaker. His rapid movements mean he’s hard to predict. He can take you to the rack, stop from anywhere, or find a teammate for a penny. His poor free throw percentage (63.6%) is perhaps the only slight here despite drilling 44% of his 3-pointers (9.0 attempts per game), but something is brewing in Utah with the young talent. of the.
Lester Quinones, Golden State Warriors
He Warriors I may have already done it they found their replacement for Jordan Poole’s profile. And he was home all this time. The sophomore guard who went undrafted in 2022 displayed silky, microwave-like scoring skills reminiscent of the now Wizards guard.
Quiñones has scored 21.6 points per game in five appearances, but his overall percentages will need to become more efficient to truly flourish at the next level. Shooting 37/27/83 on 9/17/8 attempts per game won’t cut it, though his high free throw rate indicates his shot will come. Golden State hasn’t flirted with many young guards of late, but perhaps the Memphis product flips the script.
Cam WhitmoreHouston Rockets
Watching Whitmore’s ball, one question may immediately spring to mind: How did teams let him slide to No. 20 overall? The short answer was a medical red flag, though seeing a top-10 talent in the 2023 class available in the 20s made him an easy pick for Houston.
Whitmore is a pure fool. He controls the ball, gets into his spaces and shoots. But that doesn’t fully define his playstyle. He is energetic on and off the ball and flies effortlessly on defense. His stellar play earned him the tournament MVP award despite a poor showing in the finals, though the entire Houston team struggled that night.
Still, the Rockets should be absolutely elated to have landed Whitmore, who could form a good tandem with Jalen Green down the road.
Orlando Robinson, Miami Heat
leave it to Heat to unearth a hidden gem that has a path to enter the rotation. The former Fresno State product who went undrafted in 2022 continually filled the stat sheet in Las Vegas, where he also showcased the 3-point potential once touted for coming out of college.
Only one other player averaged more points than Robinson (25.8) in the tournament, Jabari Smith Jr. at 35.5. But Smith Jr. only played two games to Robinson’s four, and the latter also delivered 9.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Most intriguing, though, was that he made 82% of his seven free throw attempts per game. If he gets that to translate to Miami, then the Heat have the perfect backing in Bam Adebayo.
Charlie Brown Jr., New York Knicks
Besides the awesome name, Brown Jr. looked like the 3-D profile teams love to have. The 6-foot-7 forward, who went undrafted in 2019, has bounced from place to place ever since, but seemed really settled with the knicks equipment.
Brown Jr. averaged 19.8 points on a 55-38-80 shooting split on solid shooting volume, and his stats are what you’d expect a 26-year-old to produce against younger staff. His rare high-shooting may still be an NBA-level deterrent, but as a catch-and-shoot slasher who has the wingspan and arms to defend multiple positions, there’s room for a player like him on a roster.
Jalen Wilson, Brooklyn Nets
Switching districts, the Nets may have found a gem with the No. 51 pick in 2023. Wilson, a Kansas product, shined for Brooklyn with the potential to be a 3-and-D rotational player.
He can catch and shoot, rebound players and find a pass and defend multiple positions. At 6-foot-8, his wingspan of exactly 6-foot-8 contributes to his low launch point, but he’s in the perfect team to hone his craft considering the Nets are absolutely chock full of two-way wings: Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney -Smith and Darius Bazley.
It’s always worth betting on the Wings of Wilson profile this late in the draft.
Leonard Miller, Minnesota Timberwolves
Somehow, Miller fell to No. 33 in the 2023 draft. The G League Ignite product may be the most tempting player in this class. With 6-foot-10 shoes and a 7-foot-2 wingspan, the lefty Miller illustrated what a terrifying player he could be as he got older.
The 19-year-old Canadian runs downhill with ease, can create off the rebound and come up from the middle. Possessing that kind of bag of tricks despite possessing a large frame would usually get the player discussed as a lottery pick. That may not have been the case with Miller, but the Timberwolves won’t complain if he turns out well.
He can play forward, power forward or center and can protect all five positions. Combine that with Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and Naz Reid, and that’s a lot of size and shooting to contend with.
Kobe Brown, Los Angeles Clippers
Brown confirmed after a standout summer league game that is, in fact, named after Kobe Bryant. It also operates in a similar fashion and suits the type of roster the Clippers have built in recent seasons.
Brown, the final first-round pick in 2023, is a sized, motorized 3/4 hybrid. He has a great shooting slam and darts toward the basket when he slices, two boxes the Clippers want to score with their wings and forwards. The Missouri product is also not afraid to back post players and make a play, which adds to his versatility.
Emoni Bates, Cleveland Cavaliers: Versatile forwards have been absent from Cleveland’s rosters in recent seasons, but Bates, once ranked the No. 1 prospect in the country, may become the missing piece with the way he played in Las Vegas. He was the 49th pick overall in 2023.
Keon Ellis, sacramento kings: A second-round pick from Alabama who continues to demonstrate two-way skills, he could make some noise and enter Sacramento’s rotation.
Mouhamed Gueye, Atlanta Falcons: The No. 39 overall pick in 2023, Gueye exhibited 3-and-D potential at center in summer league. The Hawks have needed more versatile players at that position for a few seasons, with Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu having similar profiles, so perhaps the Washington State product will provide a different twist along with Trae Young and Co.
Here’s a look at the 15 players with multiple MVP awards.