There's something for everyone at Las Vegas Summer League. For the new blood in the 2016 draft class, it's their first real chance to make a name for themselves on the NBA stage. For others, it's an opportunity to jump-start a career and break into the league.
The following is our annual back-of-the-envelope guide to the 23 NBA teams participating in the Las Vegas Summer League, highlighting some of the more promising and intriguing prospects who will take the floor. The East guide is below, and the West guide is here.
Taurean Prince: He’s already roasting reporters at an elite level, and after using the 12th pick in the draft on him, the Hawks are hoping the Baylor product will develop into the 3-and-D presence they lost when DeMarre Carroll bolted for Canada last year.
Bryce Cotton: It's hard to believe that a player who averaged 22 points per game on 45.3 percent 3-point shooting with 90.5 percent free throw shooting in 40 D-League games can’t hold down a regular rotation spot as a backup point guard. After trading Jeff Teague, Atlanta should give Cotton a long look.
Jaylen Brown: Being the third player selected in a supposed “two-player draft” is enough to create a healthy chip on anyone’s shoulder. Brown has shown that he’s capable of playing with a mean streak, and, for a defensive-minded coach such as Brad Stevens, that’s half of the battle. The jury is still out on his jumper, though, and he isn't expected to play before this weekend after bruising his right knee.
Terry Rozier: The 16th pick in the 2015 draft barely got off the pine his rookie year, but he’s been impressive early on in the Utah Summer League. Rozier might have a tough path to playing time with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart ahead of him, but for now, it’s his time to run the show and win some more fans within the organization.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: His rookie campaign was interrupted when he fractured his ankle, but RHJ looked like Gerald Wallace 2.0 when he did play. It's clear he can defend his tail off and rebound, but now it will be interesting to see how much polish he has added to a pretty raw offensive skill set.
Isaiah Whitehead: This feels like a “local boy makes good” type of story. Whitehead is a Coney Island native and played at Lincoln, the same high school that produced Sebastian Telfair and Stephon Marbury. After being drafted by the Nets in the second round, he’ll try to live up to the hype of being the next great New York-bred point guard, right in his own backyard. No pressure.
Bobby Portis: No Pau, no problem? The Bulls will miss Gasol, but Portis is going to add a much-needed boost of athleticism and energy to the frontcourt that often went missing last season. Not many guys can grind on the offensive glass and step out and play on the perimeter, but Portis has the versatility to become a key cog in Chicago's future.
Doug McDermott: McBuckets shot 42.5 percent from behind the arc last season (that’s good!) but didn’t do anything else well (that’s bad!) in his sophomore campaign with the Bulls. Swapping a scorer in Derrick Rose with a distributor in Rajon Rondo at point guard might lead to some more chances, but McDermott has to defend and rebound better to earn more minutes (especially with Dwyane Wade joining the mix).
Denzel Valentine: The AP Player of the Year probably would have been a top-five pick if he were 6-foot-8 instead of 6-6, but regardless, his versatile offensive game should shine at any position. Valentine can do everything offensively at a high level, but he'll need to become a much better defender to earn big minutes right away.
Kay Felder: Big men, beware: Felder is only 5-9, but he has so much bounce that Oakland would run lob plays for him pretty regularly. That obviously won’t be his bread and butter in the pros, but Felder is cut from the Isaiah Thomas mold and is a certified bucket acquirer. With Matthew Dellavedova gone and Mo Williams aging quickly, Felder has a shot to play real minutes for the reigning champs.
Sir’Dominic Pointer: For the second year running, Sir’Dominic Pointer wins the hotly contested “best name at summer league” award. He can play a little bit, too, as he’s a solid defender on the perimeter.
Justise Winslow: He was spotted at a game earlier this summer with a hat that said, “Really Really Good,” and that probably sums it up. Winslow is a little too good for summer league already, but it’s a nice place for him to work on being more aggressive offensively and looking for his own shot more often. He’s already a great role player -- can he develop into more?
Josh Richardson: Dwyane Wade has left Miami, so Richardson’s development suddenly means quite a bit. If the Heat decide not to match the reported $50 million offer the Nets gave restricted free agent Tyler Johnson, Richardson could be on track for big minutes soon enough.
Thon Maker: There’s plenty of controversy behind his age and the unconventional path he took to the league, but Maker has the kind of length you dream of. Whether the mixtape skills we’ve seen in the past are for real, though, remains to be seen.
Rashad Vaughn: The UNLV product is an important piece of the puzzle for the Bucks going forward, as he’s projected to be the wing shooter to slide in between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Vaughn is somehow still only 19 years old, but the Bucks need him to grow up quickly for depth reasons.
Ben Simmons: Get your popcorn ready. The process led the 76ers to Ben Simmons, an athletic freak who possesses some of the best court vision you’ll ever see from a 19-year-old forward. No one in this draft class has a higher ceiling, and no one’s performance will be more closely scrutinized. The rap on Simmons at LSU was that he wasn’t competitive enough and that he often played with a certain level of laziness. He has a chance to put a lot of those concerns to bed in Vegas.
Bruno Caboclo: Fran Fraschilla said in 2014 that Caboclo was “two years from being two years away,” which would put the lengthy forward as being just two years away now. Got all that? Along with Caboclo, the Raptors will have Delon Wright and Norman Powell on the wing. This is like the summer league version of Golden State’s big four, basically.
Jakob Poeltl: Let’s get this out of the way: Here’s how you pronounce his name, straight from the source. Poeltl is a bit of a throwback in that he’s an efficient back-to-the-basket scorer with limited range, but the Raptors will have to get him up to speed defensively rather quickly after reportedly losing Bismack Biyombo to the Orlando Magic in free agency.
Kelly Oubre Jr.: The Wizards might have the least entertaining team in Vegas, but at least Findlay prep grad Oubre will be there to get shots up. Oubre was the 15th pick of the 2015 draft and a self-proclaimed "steal" and, given the lack of big-time talent around him, is a decent bet to lead summer league in scoring.