Sports Out West

Five Players to Watch at the NBA Summer League

Andrew Wiggins

The Las Vegas NBA Summer League runs from July 11-21 and is the first opportunity to see up-and-coming new stars play for the first time. Many players taken in the recent NBA Draft will be looking to make a name for themselves and show that they have what it takes to help their teams throughout next season and beyond. Here are five players to watch this Summer League Season.

Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers

Last year’s No. 1 overall pick looks to come out and jump start his sophomore season by having a strong showing in the Summer League. Many doubted this selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Bennett certainly didn’t do a whole lot to prove many people wrong. Bennett didn’t have a great deal of time to work with the team before the regular season last year, having missed most of the summer with a shoulder injury. The Summer League will be a perfect time for him to step up and show the world why he deserved to be the No. 1 pick. Bennett will also be playing in a familiar setting with the Summer League being played on the UNLV campus where he spent his lone college year.

Andrew Wiggins, Cleveland Cavaliers

Along with Bennett, this year’s No. 1 overall pick has a lot to prove going into next season. While he showed that he can be an elite player during his time at Kansas, Wiggins needs to show that he can be an effective player at the professional level. Also, he will want to come out and make sure it is known that he was clearly the right choice for the first overall pick. If he can’t do that, he may get even heavier criticism from his new home fans after the rough year Bennett had last year. The pressure is especially high for both players due to the fact that many in Cleveland are hoping for a playoff run this year with the talent they have.

Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers

Many were skeptical whether Randle would be able to play due to a foot injury, but he is expected to make his debut during the Summer League and looks to show that he can complement an already star-studded team. He will need to step up and show he can be an effective option moving forward and help make scoring opportunities for a team that struggled last season. Randle has one of the better options moving forward, finding himself on a team that are proven winners, and he should be able to make waves from day one.

Nik Stauskas, Sacramento Kings

Stauskas comes into the Summer League trying to show that he has what it takes to push the Kings over the top and get them a much-needed playoff appearance. The team was on the verge of being sold and moved out of Sacramento, and a good season is just what they need moving forward. Stauskas gives the team a great option for long range shots and helps open up area for the rest of the team to make an impact. Any defense will have to account for him when he takes the floor, and that should help the rest of his team really have some additional room to work with and make plays.

Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs

The former UCLA prospect will look to come out for the champions and show that he deserves to be on the court. The fact that he dropped all the way to the pick No. 30 in the draft should give him extra motivation to prove that he can be an elite player in the NBA. Beyond that, Anderson will have one of the tougher prospects of getting onto a team that has proven they are in a good place already. The Summer League will truly be his best opportunity to prove what he has against tougher talent. While it isn’t playing against the all-stars that are seen every day on television, it is still a different environment than what was seen in college.

Bonus: all the undrafted players

Many players that didn’t get drafted will have their opportunities to prove themselves to teams moving forward in hopes of landing a contract to play once the season starts. If these players can actually make a name for themselves and show what they have, it could be their best opportunity to make it to the big stage.

Photo Credit: USATSI

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Matthew Fitzgerald

Matthew Fitzgerald is a Las Vegas resident who is an expert on all things sports. Being from Las Vegas has given him the opportunity to develop a love for an assortment of teams that include the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as his hometown UNLV Rebels.