Over the last few weeks, the NBA Summer League has been in full swing with games in Orlando, Utah, and Las Vegas. Many Big Ten alumni participated, competing against other young talent in front of scouts from teams across the NBA. For players that were drafted, this is their first taste of NBA action and a chance to give their new cities hope for the future. For other players, some who have already been playing professionally for a year or two, this is their opportunity to show scouts they belong, and earn a training camp invite or possibly a pro contract.
Today, we break down each former Big Ten players performance over the summer, and where they may go from here.
2015 Draft Picks
- D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State
After being selected 2nd by the Lakers, Russell appeared in all 5 of the team's summer league games in Las Vegas. While the former Buckeye made some great passes and showed flashes of brilliance, his efficiency was lacking throughout the tournament. While he averaged almost 12 points per game, Russell shot just 38% including 2-17 from deep. He also had 16 assists while turning the ball over 26 times in just 5 games. There's no reason to panic about his up and down performance in the summer league, as the things Russell struggled with are exactly what he needs to improve on in his freshman season. Continual improvement taking care of and shooting the ball, especially from deep, is what will make Russell's freshman season a success.
- Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Kaminsky was selected 9th by the Hornets, and he will have a good chance to start for the team in his rookie season. The former Wisconsin star shined in his 5 summer league games in Orlando, scoring 15.2 points per game while shooting 44% from the field. Some questioned Kaminsky's ability to step behind the longer NBA three point line, but the 7-footer shot 7-18 in the summer league from deep. Kaminsky also averaged nearly 8 rebounds per game and didn't struggle on defense as much as some thought he would. In the regular season, he will have to prove his defense is serviceable while using his versatility to be a consistent scorer on offense.
- Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Selected 18th by the Houston Rockets, Dekker was held out of the summer league because of a sore lower back. The back doesn't seem like anything serious, so look for Dekker to be ready for training camp in the fall. The former Wisconsin star will definitely make the roster in his rookie season, but may find it hard to get consistent minutes off the bench with the Rockets already having Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer at the small forward position. His ability to consistently shoot from deep may be what can get Dekker in the rotation.
- Aaron White, Iowa
After bing drafted in the 2nd round, White struggled in his six summer league games in Vegas. White averaged just 3 points in 18 minutes, and shot 0-9 from deep. The former Hawkeye never scored more than 4 points in a game for the Wizards. White will play his first professional season in Germany with Telekom Baskets Bonn. One of the reasons White may have been drafted by the Wizards is because he was willing to play overseas to start his career, saving Washington money to fill out their roster with veterans this season. Look for White to have a chance to come back to play in Washington next season if he has a good season in Germany.
- Branden Dawson, Michigan State
Originally drafted by the Pelicans, Dawson was acquired by the Clippers in a draft night trade. Dawson played in 4 of the Clippers 5 summer league games in Orlando, and he was impressive. The former Michigan State star shot over 50% and averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. Dawson recorded a double-double in 3 of the 4 games and his performance earned him a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. The 22 year old's contract only has one season guaranteed, but this gives him the chance to prove himself, and you would think the Clippers will pick up the second year on his contract if he shows the ability to have an impact off the bench. Look for Dawson to have the chance to play more as the season goes on with the Clippers, kind of like how Draymond Green struggled to play consistently in his first season in Golden State.
Definite Roster Players
- Mitch McGary, Michigan
After being injured to start his rookie season, McGary got increased playing time as the season went on with the Oklahoma City Thunder facing numerous injuries in their front-court. The former Michigan star played in 4 of the Thunder's 5 games in Orlando and averaged an impressive 12.5 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes while shooting 57% from the field. The 2014 first round pick will definitely make the Thunder's roster and look for him to contribute after losing 30 pounds this offseason, hoping to come back more athletic and less injury prone.
- Noah Vonleh, Indiana
After being drafted #9 overall by the Hornets in 2014, Vonleh was traded to the Trail Blazers this offseason. Looking for a fresh start after a poor rookie season, the former Hoosier had a great summer league averaging 17 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 56% from the field. Vonleh will be on the Blazers roster and look to help fill the void left by the departure of LeMarcus Aldridge. Stretching the floor is how Vonleh will be able to earn consistent playing time this year, and he showed he has the ability to do that in the summer league as he shot 5-10 from deep in his four games.
- Adreian Payne, Michigan State
The 2014 first round pick was traded to the Timberwolves in the middle of his rookie season after playing in the D-league some with the Hawks. Payne looked solid in the Vegas for the Timberwolves this summer, playing in all 5 games and averaging 14 points per game and 8.4 rebounds. How Payne can really earn playing time in 2015-2016 is showing he has the ability to stretch the floor next to Karl-Anthony Towns, and the former Spartan looked pretty good at that in the summer league hitting 6-16 3 point attempts after hitting just one in his entire rookie season.
- Gary Harris, Michigan State
After being selected in the first round in the 2014 draft, Harris struggled in his first season as a pro averaging just 3.4 points in 13 minutes per game. Harris looked a little better in 3 summer league games in Vegas averaging 12 points in 28 minutes, but he'll have to prove himself during training camp if he wants consistent minutes. The good news is the Nuggets roster is very thin, so Harris could find himself playing an increased role in his second season despite not necessarily earning the minutes.
- Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
After playing in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Hawks, Glenn Robinson III was able to land a 3 year deal with the Indiana Pacers. The former second round pick in 2014 landed this deal after an impressive summer league scoring 12 points per game in 6 games including a 23 point outburst against Dallas where Robinson III showed the ability to stretch the floor, going 3-4 from deep. While he will probably make the roster, Robinson III won't get off the bench much for the Pacers and will have to prove himself when he gets the chance.
Possible Roster Players
- Tim Frazier, Penn State
After signing with Portland late last season, Frazier played in all 6 of the team's summer league games in Vegas, averaging 10 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. While Frazier isn't a lock to make the roster, it's looking good for the second year pro as starting point guard Damian Lillard is apparently a big fan of the former Nittany Lion, saying "he definitely has a future in this league". After appearing in a playoff game for the Blazers last season, it seems Frazier has the leg up to be the backup point guard in Portland.
- Keith Appling, Michigan State
Appling played in all five of the Orlando Magic White summer league games. The former Spartan was very impressive averaging nearly 16 points per game and shooting 50% from the field. Appling also averaged 3 assists and 3 steals, leading the Orlando team in all 3 of those categories. This performance earned Appling a 2 year contract with the Magic, but this does not automatically put him on the Magic's roster. The contract is only partially guaranteed, and the 23 year old will have to earn his way on to the opening night roster. If he doesn't end up there, Appling will find himself playing with Orlando's D-league team, the Erie BayHawks.
- Devyn Marble, Iowa
After being drafted in the 2nd round last year, Marble was up and down between the Magic and the D-league. The former Hawkeye played all 5 summer league games for Orlando Magic Blue, and while he averaged 11 points per game, he shot just 35%. The 22 year old will have to earn his way on to the roster during training camp, as Orlando has gotten even deeper at the wing position, adding Mario Hezonja with the 5th pick in the 2015 draft. Marble may be battling it out with Keith Appling for a final roster spot with the Magic.
- Duje Dukan, Wisconsin
After playing a reserve role in his senior year at Wisconsin, the former Badger played all 5 games for the Kings in Vegas and was impressive averaging 9.2 points per game in just 18 minutes. Dukan earned himself a partially guaranteed two year deal with Sacramento, which will give him a chance to make the team out of training camp this season. A big reason the 6'8'' forward was offered this deal was because of his 10-24 shooting from deep in the summer. Look for Dukan to have a good chance of being on the Kings opening night roster next season.
- Terran Petteway, Nebraska
Petteway played all 7 games for the Hawks in Vegas, but was not very efficient while averaging 10.9 points per game in 26 minutes. He shot just 11-39 from deep and had a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio, but the former Cornhusker was able to earn himself a non-guaranteed contract from the Hawks, giving him a chance to prove himself in training camp. Petteway will have to show improvement in his shooting and decision making to make the roster. He'll be battling it out with former Pittsburg Panther Lamar Patterson among other training camp invites for one of the final roster spots. I think a lot of NBA teams could use Petteway's scoring so even if he doesn't make an opening night roster, look for him to make his way to the league eventually next season after spending some time in the D-league.
This section consists of players who are waiting for a training camp invite to give themselves a chance at a roster spot, and players trying to find the best deal possible overseas. Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, JaJuan Johnson, and Dez Wells all have a chance to get a training camp invite. Craft played for the Warriors D-league team last year, and their summer league team this year. Unfortunately, the former Buckeye shot just 9-29 in 6 games in Vegas. Craft will have to fight his way on to a roster this fall, and it might take a couple injuries for it to happen. Scott played 9 games total for the Spurs this summer in Vegas and Utah. He played a good amount, averaging over 20 minutes a game and shot a respectable 44% from the field. He's a solid defender and could get a training camp invite, and possibly start in the D-league somewhere. JaJuan Johnson, now 26, was drafted back in 2011 and looked good playing limited minutes this summer in 8 games for the Jazz. The former Boilermaker shot 53% and averaged 6.5 points per game in just 12 minutes. Johnson has played in the NBA before, and should get a roster invite again this fall. Wells missed all of the summer league with the Wizards with a thumb injury so he will be fighting an uphill battle to make an NBA roster this fall.
The rest of the former Big Ten players participating in the summer league have already signed contracts overseas. After averaging 7 points on 57% shooting for the Magic in the summer league, former Gopher Maurice Walker will play in Italy this season. Rayvonte Rice will also play in Italy after a somewhat disappointing summer league with the Bulls where he averaged just 1 point in 7 minutes per game. Former Badger Jared Berggren will join them in Italy after playing for the Pistons in Orlando. Berggren played well in 5 games over the summer averaging 5 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 52%. Former Ohio State Buckeye LaQuinton Ross will also signed a deal with an Italian team after playing just 16 minutes total in 3 games for the WIzards in Las Vegas.
Also overseas will be Josh Gasser (Germany), John Shurna (Spain), DJ Newbill (France), Gabriel Olaseni (Germany), and Will Sheehey (France). Gasser, a four year player at Wisconsin, played for the Nets in both the Orlando and Vegas summer leagues. While he struggled averaging just 1 point in Orlando, he averaged 8 points in just 14 minutes per game in 3 games in Vegas. Shurna, a former Wildcat at Northwestern, played all 5 games for Cleveland in Las Vegas, but never found a rhythm, averaging 9 points per game, but shooting just 36%. Newbill was one player who many thought had a chance to make an NBA roster, but the former Nittany Lion decided to go overseas after playing in 4 games in Vegas for the Clippers. Newbill averaged 11 points on 47% shooting, which likely landed him a good deal overseas. The money is usually better abroad, so players just out of college find the overseas route more appealing then going to the D-league to start their careers. The door will still be open for players like Newbill to come over if they prove themselves overseas. Olaseni, a former Hawkeye, was another player who probably earned himself a good deal overseas after a solid summer league. The 23 year old played 26 minutes per game and averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds on 56% shooting. Former Hoosier Will Sheehey only played 2 games in the summer league for the Pelicans, scoring 14 total points in 24 minutes.
The rest of the former Big Ten players in the summer league are essentially just waiting for the best deal to present itself. These players will almost certainly not get roster invites, and will find themselves playing somewhere overseas, like the above players, or possibly making a D-league roster. This list includes Ralph Sampson III (Minnesota), Jon Octeus (Purdue), Christian Watford (Indiana), Travis Trice (Michigan State), Jordan Morgan (Michigan), Sam Thompson (Ohio State), Drew Crawford (Northwestern), Nnanna Egwu (Illinois), Lenzelle Smith Jr (Ohio State), Sam Thompson (Ohio State), and Traevon Jackson (Wisconsin).
There are a few notable names on this list, including Trice, who some thought might be fit for the NBA. He struggled, however, averaging just 4 points in 10 minutes per game for the Heat this summer. Egwu is interesting because he is 6'11'' and really only started playing basketball in high school. In his final game with the Magic this summer, he had 11 points and 11 rebounds. His skill just won't be enough, however, to entice NBA teams.