Here we go. The regular season is in the books and the 30-team, single-elimination tournament at the Las Vegas Summer League is upon us. We’ve got eight games tipping off Wednesday followed by six more on Thursday. Let’s get into the picks from 888sport.
The Clips have their point guard of the future in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has averaged 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in three Las Vegas games. He and fellow Lottery pick Jerome Robinson (13.0 points, 48% shooting) have been helped out by Sindarius Thornwell (17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds) and make for a trio that could make some serious noise in the playoffs. Washington’s first round pick Troy Brown has been solid but they may not have an answer for Gilgeous-Alexander. L.A.’s only loss came against the undefeated Rockets, so we like them to advance here.
Like Gilgeous-Alexander, Collin Sexton has looked like the new Kyrie Irving in Cleveland. The Alabama point guard averaged 16.7 points and 3.0 assists in three games. What’s more impressive is that he was the third leading scorer; the Cavs were the only team in Las Vegas with two players averaging 20 or more points, with Ante Zizic (20.5) and Cedi Osman (20.0) getting it done. Sacramento seems to be heating up with guys like Justin Jackson and Harry Giles leading the way, but we like that trio in Cleveland to get it done. Sexton is playing with serious poise and the Kings are without No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley.
The Rockets surged to a 3-0 record behind solid play from all over. Rookie De’Anthony Melton led the way with 16.3 points, but Houston has an absurd seven players averaging 9.0 points per game or better. Jarrett Allen played in his first Summer League game on Monday and had 12 rebounds and five blocks. He could be a difference maker depending on how much he plays, but the Rockets simply have too many offensive weapons for Brooklyn to hang in this one.
Good luck slowing down Wendell Carter. The No. 7 pick averaged 16.0 points. 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in three games and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Antonio Blakeney was made for this setting, and first round pick Chandler Hutchison has shown his versatility early and often. The Mavericks thumped the Warriors without Dennis Smith Jr., but they’re a different team without their floor general. This one could come down to whether forward Johnathan Motley can slow down Carter. Either way it’ll be close.
Get to know Josh Okogie’s name. Minnesota’s two-way guard has been great in Las Vegas, averaging 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals. He’s been every bit as good as advertised, and second round pick Keita Bates-Diop has shown much of the same versatility that should allow them to fare well against a Pistons team that has been up and down the past week.
Trae Young is heating up, and that’s bad news for the other 29 teams in the NBA. The good news is that the Pacers will be able to answer with Aaron Holiday, one of the best guards in Las Vegas this past week. Holiday averaged 15.0 points, 6.0 assists and a league-best 2.7 steals in three games, and he should give Young fits on the defensive end. T.J. Leaf and Alize Johnson on the interior will control the game, and if Young and Holiday cancel each other out the Pacers should come out on top.
Imagine how good Denver would be if they also had Lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. playing for them. The Nuggets cruised to a 3-0 record thanks to solid performances from Monte Morris (16.0 points, 6.3 assists) and Malik Beasley (14.5 points). Denver handed Boston and Minnesota its only losses in Vegas last week, and they should have no problem taking care of a Raptors team that went winless and lost all three games by double digits.
The Warriors are a much different team with Jordan Bell and Damian Jones on the bench. Then again, the Hornets are also without Malik Monk (broken thumb) so the odds are even there. But the three-headed monster of Willy Hernangomez, Dwayne Bacon and Miles Bridges is as balanced as it gets, and Devonte Graham has run the point well (18 assists in three games). The Warriors have talent but Charlotte should be able to neutralize the backcourt of Jacob Evans and Kendrick Nunn.
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