Welcome to the second half of the Eastern Conference Summer League review, detailing the immediate fantasy prospects for young players on the Pacers, Heat, Bucks, Knicks, Magic, 76ers, Raptors and Wizards. If you missed the first two columns in this series, you can catch up by reading my first column about the East, as well as a look at the West by Mike Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher).
As I noted last week, there are two points to keep in mind while reading:
1) Rookies rarely fare well in fantasy leagues — over the past decade, an average of 5.8 rookies per year have cracked the top-150 for 9-cat value.
2) The vast majority of players in Summer League shot poorly. Here are the overall shooting averages for this year’s three Summer Leagues, followed by a list of the Eastern Conference teams which played in those tournaments:
Orlando: 42.4% (Magic, Knicks, Heat, Pistons, Pacers, Hornets)
Utah: 44.7% (Celtics, 76ers)
Las Vegas: 40.8% (Hawks, Celtics, Nets, Bulls, Cavs, Heat, Bucks, 76ers, Raptors, Wizards)
Each team name is followed by an ‘Impact Rating’ on a scale of 1-10, with low numbers indicating the Summer League roster isn’t likely to have a big impact during the 2016-17 regular season. High numbers, conversely, suggest that those Summer League players could be important for their team (and fantasy owners) this year.
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Indiana Pacers – Impact Rating 2
The Pacers only participated in the Orlando Summer League and their roster wasn’t very fantasy-relevant. We got our first extended look at the Pacers’ lone rookie, No. 50 pick Georges Niang, who fared well with averages of 10.2 points on 57.1% shooting, 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals. Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard said that Niang was “one of the best playmakers in college basketball,” adding that he can serve as a pick-and-pop option at the PF spot. Niang could earn minutes as a backup combo forward during his rookie campaign, but he’s a dubious fantasy option with Thaddeus Young and Paul George soaking up minutes.
Glenn Robinson III led Indiana’s team in scoring at 15.6 points per game, knocking down 49.2% of his shots including an 8-of-21 mark from downtown. GR3 added 5.6 boards, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in just 27.2 minutes per game, and it’s possible that the departure of Solomon Hill could open up a handful of minutes for the 22-year-old swingman.
Former second-round pick Joe Young sat out the Pacers’ final game due to a bruised tailbone, finishing the tournament with averages of 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists. His assist-to-turnover ratio is still a problem if he hopes to be a playmaking guard in the NBA, and now that Aaron Brooks has signed with Indy there are no guarantees that Young will earn a stable spot in the rotation. He’s nothing more than a deep-league handcuff for Jeff Teague‘s owners this year.
Rakeem Christmas and Shayne Wittington also had some nice moments, but neither guy did enough to think they’ll make an impact this regular season. The majority of Indiana’s Summer League crew will be playing with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Miami Heat – Impact Rating 8
Miami’s young players saw plenty of action this month, participating in both the Orlando and Vegas iterations of Summer League. The team was led by a one-two punch of Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, who finished the Orlando tournament 5th and 6th in scoring average, respectively. Miami’s talented young wings appeared in just three games, and they didn’t play in Vegas as a precaution. Both are due for increased roles this year, with Richardson emerging as a deadly 3-point shooter (46.1% from deep last season) with intriguing across-the-board potential. With Dion Waiters favored to start at SG this season, however, Richardson may only serve as a perimeter specialist off the bench.
Winslow shot just 29.8% from the field in Orlando, highlighting his primary fantasy deficiency. He was just 42.3% from the field as a rookie, and 68.4% from the line, taking a big chunk out of his 8- and 9-cat appeal. Worse yet is the fact that Winslow’s strong defense didn’t lend itself to counting stats last year — on a per-36-minute basis, he averaged just 1.1 steals and 0.4 blocks. The good news is that his minutes should rise from 28.6 to the mid-30s this year, since the Heat plan to start him at SF, and at the very least he’ll be a guy to watch in points leagues and DFS.
Briante Weber turned some heads by leading the Las Vegas tournament with 4.0 steals per game, to go along with 11.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He was a perfect 13-of-13 from the line in nine total appearances, but shot just 38.8% from the field and 23.6% from downtown. His playing time (and potential fantasy appeal) evaporated once the Heat matched Tyler Johnson‘s offer sheet, leaving Weber with an uncertain outlook for 2015-16. He’ll go undrafted in all but the deepest fantasy formats.
The remainder of Miami’s team consisted of guys who aren’t likely to make the roster, including Rodney McGruder, Victor Rudd, Damion Lee and Okaro White. Although he wasn’t active at Summer League, recent addition Willie Reed figures to earn playing time as the most likely backup for Hassan Whiteside — he’s worth remembering in case Whiteside gets injured during the season.
Milwaukee Bucks – Impact Rating 5
The Bucks deployed rookies Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon in Vegas, and both of them were impressive. Maker was seen as a reach with the No. 10 pick, but his immense upside was on display all week as he used his length and athleticism to average 14.2 points while ranking second with 9.6 rebounds. His shot selection wasn’t great and he shot just 37.7%, but he looked more comfortable from downtown than his 6-of-19 total suggests. Fantasy owners should note that Maker failed to record a single assist in Vegas and he was very foul prone, committing 5.0 fouls in 30.4 minutes per game. The Bucks’ coaches will be preaching the need for Maker to bulk up and stop gambling defensively. On top of those concerns, he faces serious competition for playing time with Jabari Parker and Mirza Teletovic vying for minutes at PF. The future is very bright for Maker, but he’s unlikely to help most owners as a rookie.
Second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon, meanwhile, was used as a point guard for long stretches and wound up averaging 10.2 points, 5.0 boards and 4.4 assists. With a mere 0.6 turnovers per game, his proved that he can serve as a judicious playmaker off the bench — his path to the starting SG job is blockaded by Matthew Dellavedova, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rashad Vaughn and even Tyler Ennis. It’s unclear how Jason Kidd will handle his starting lineup and rotations, making Milwaukee a team to watch closely during training camp, and deep-league owners should pay special attention to Brogdon’s role.
Rashad Vaughn led the Bucks with 14.4 points per game, but he shot just 33.8% with more turnovers (2.0 per game) than assists (1.8). He shot under 25% from downtown, which won’t cut it for a Bucks team that finished dead-last in 3-pointer per game last year, making it less likely that he’ll emerge with the lion’s share of minutes at SG.
New York Knicks – Impact Rating 1
The Knicks took part in the Orlando Summer League, where guard Chasson Randle led the team in both scoring (18.3 ppg) and assists (5.0). He went undrafted in 2015 and spent last season in the Czech Republic, but the Knicks are reportedly one of three teams interested in signing him after his impressive stint in Vegas. If he does land in New York he’d be buried on the depth chart as a third-string PG behind Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings.
Beyond the impressive play of Randle, the Knicks didn’t have any legitimate rotation players in action, deploying guys like J.P. Tokoto, DaJuan Summers, Ron Baker and Devin Booker. Marshall Plumlee was unimpressive, averaging 6.0 points and 4.8 rebounds, and rookie Willy Hernangomez skipped Summer League while preparing to play for Spain in the Olympics. He’ll serve as emergency depth behind Joakim Noah and Kyle O’Quinn, ensuring that he won’t help fantasy owners in standard formats. In a related move, the Knicks gave a partially-guaranteed deal to big man Maurice Ndour, who played well for New York during last year’s Summer League. He too is a fantasy pariah, even if he does carve out a small bench role.
Orlando Magic – Impact Rating 1
The Magic deployed two different teams during the Orlando Summer League. The ‘Blue’ team was led by Nick Johnson, Devyn Marble and Stephen Zimmerman, while the ‘White’ team featured guys like Arinze Onuaku, Justin Dentmon and Kevin Murphy. Zimmerman, a second-round pick this summer, is the only player on either team with a guaranteed contract, and even he is likely to spend most of the season in the D-League. Marble will have a hard time making a roster that already includes Elfrid Payton, D.J. Augustin, C.J. Watson, Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks.
Orlando’s rosters were even less relevant once it became clear that Mario Hezonja wouldn’t participate, instead prepping for the Olympics with Croatia’s national team. Although they won’t have fantasy relevance this year, a few players deserve notice for strong play this summer. Nick Johnson was a cut above the competition, using his superior athleticism to average 14.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 steals and a tournament-leading 7.4 assists. He also turned the ball over 3.4 times per game, however, and his jumper is still a work in progress. Arinze Onuaku was impressive, hauling in 9.8 rebounds per game to go along with 14.8 points on 62.5% shooting. Treveon Graham was also excellent, helping the ‘White’ team win the tournament with averages of 16.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals. His efficiency stood out in a sea of poor shot selection and percentages, as he knocked down 55.8% of his shots and played very well off the ball. Johnson, Onuaku and Graham are all longshots to make an NBA roster.
Philadelphia 76ers – Impact Rating 10
Unlike the Knicks and Magic, the 76ers’ squad featured difference-making potential in Ben Simmons. The No. 1 pick showed his versatility throughout multiple Summer Leagues, finishing the Utah tourney third in rebounds (7.5 per game) and first in assists (5.5). Playmaking was a theme for Simmons. The Sixers ran their offense through him and they reportedly view him as a point-PF, so his Summer League play was a harbinger of things to come. He was encouraged to shoot the ball, but was a miserable 32.2% from the field and 64.3% from the line in six games, while averaging 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 3.8 turnovers. He’ll be virtually unstoppable once he expands his shooting range, but for now defenses will sag off him and dare him to make jumpers. The combination of turnovers and low-percentage, high-volume shooting makes it hard to like him as more than a late-round fantasy option during his rookie season.
Nik Stauskas is on the books for just under $3 million this season but he did nothing to improve his stock during Summer League, shooting 35.0% from the field in two appearances. Gerald Henderson is the presumptive starting SG for Philly this year, and rookie Timothe Luwawu could crack the rotation, leaving Stauskas precious little room to help owners. Speaking of Luwawu, the athletic SG showed his potential by playing strong defense and knocking down at least two 3-pointers in four of his six appearances. As a 3-and-D guy with an uncertain role this season, he shouldn’t be drafted in most leagues.
Richaun Holmes was better than the competition, posting 9.6 points, 5.7 boards, 2.5 blocks and 1.0 steals in just 23.8 minutes, but the Sixers will need to unload multiple big men for Holmes to surface with a major role this year. T.J. McConnell helped his cause by ranking fifth in Vegas with 5.6 assists per game, adding 4.0 boards, 1.6 steals and 7.4 points o 45.8% shooting. He wasn’t effective from long-range, though, and isn’t assured a roster spot behind Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez. Guys like Brandon Paul and Shawn Long also had some very nice performances, but this is the first and last time you’ll hear about them this season.
Christian Wood was also very impressive in limited action, posting 15.8 points on 56.2% shooting, 5.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks. The big man even showed some range with a combined 6-of-19 mark from downtown. It was good enough to earn him a two-year deal with the Hornets, where he’ll struggle to make a dent in a crowded frontcourt.
Toronto Raptors – Impact Rating 7
The Raptors brought two first-round picks to Las Vegas — No. 9 pick Jakob Poeltl and No. 27 pick Pascal Siakam. Poeltl’s development will be paramount for the Raptors, who used their lottery pick on the most NBA-ready center in the draft. He was as-advertised in Vegas, averaging 6.8 points on 66.7% shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals, and could find himself in the rotation on opening night — Lucas Nogueira is the only real competition for backup minutes behind Jonas Valanciunas. The rookie might spend time in the D-League, according to Dwane Casey, so fantasy owners should avoid him until further notice. Pascal Siakam sprained his knee during the Raptors’ first game, limiting him to just 15 minutes in one appearance. Casey also hinted that Siakam could spend time in the D-League, and even if he’s called up there’s too much competition for him to be worth owning.
Norman Powell was too good for Summer League. His calling-card is defense but he thrived in every aspect vs. inferior players, averaging 19.8 points, 4.4 boards, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He was also a combined 12-of-26 from downtown (46.2%) and should have the green light this season, giving him specialist appeal in deeper leagues. The Raptors have impressive backcourt depth with Powell and Cory Joseph backing up starters Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Bruno Caboclo shot 35.5% from downtown and he put his size and quickness to good use defensively, but he got lost a few times and is still a season (or two) away from being an impact player. Delon Wright is in a similar situation, failing to show enough improvement to think that he’ll be a fantasy asset this year. Wright is a good passer with great size at 6’5″, but he shot just 2-of-12 from downtown and will have a hard time finding minutes behind both Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph. Point guard Fred VanVleet was impressive enough to earn a training camp invite, having averaged 6.2 points, 3.0 boards, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals in just 16.0 minutes per game. He’s unlikely to make the final roster.
Washington Wizards – Impact Rating 3
Although he wasn’t efficient, Kelly Oubre Jr. managed to lead the Wizards in scoring at 19.2 points per game, while adding 5.6 boards, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals. He earned second-team honors in Vegas but his poor shooting (37.5%) was largely the product of playing outside of his comfort zone — he sometimes struggled to create his own offense, and wound up committing 2.8 turnovers in under 30 minutes per game. The Wizards don’t have much depth at SF and Oubre should serve as Otto Porter‘s primary backup, limiting his value unless Porter gets hurt.
Jarell Eddie was a standout performer for Washington, connecting on 46.4% of his 3-pointers en route to 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He and the Wizards mutually agreed to push back his contract-guarantee date, but it’s almost certain that he’ll stay with the team. His ability to spread the court could earn him a bit role off the bench this season, but it’s just as likely that he’ll end up in the D-League.
Nate Wolters, a veteran by Summer League standards, played well after getting over a minor ankle injury. In two starts at PG, he averaged 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and just 1.5 turnovers, while shooting a combined 10-of-18 from the field. Even if he does attend the Wizards’ training camp, there’s no clear need for him with John Wall and Trey Burke on the roster.
Undrafted forward Danuel House looked good throughout Summer League, earning a training camp invite after averaging 11.2 points per game. He shot just 34.0% from the field, however, and it’s unlikely that he’ll make the final cut.
Aside from Oubre, the most promising young player on the Wizards might be someone who didn’t play in Summer League — Tomas Satoransky. The combo guard has great size at 6’7″, he’s a capable playmaker, and he shot 43.9% from deep with Barcelona last season. His fantasy appeal is limited during his first season, however, as the NBA learning curve is compounded by uncertain playing time in a backcourt that features John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcus Thornton and Trey Burke.
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