Now that the Utah and Orlando Summer Leagues have wrapped up, the attention shifts towards boosted competition out in the desert. The Las Vegas Summer League expands to 24 teams, culminating in a tournament battle for the league crown.
League play kicked off this past weekend, marking the first appearances of Big Ten first-rounds picks D.J. Wilson and Caleb Swanigan. Let’s take a look at how they have fared thus far.
-D.J. Wilson (Milwaukee Bucks)
Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee organization have shown little subtly when executing their vision of Bucks basketball. With the Greek Freak as prototype, the team has aggressively targeted size-infused athleticism, packed with wingspan and verticality. Not small shooters and floor spacers, but lumbering 7-foot ballhandlers and rim slashers patrol the lanes in Wisconsin. As construction continues on their new $524 million arena, the finished product will resemble more circus than hardwood.
Enter 17th overall selection D.J. Wilson. The former Wolverine checks all the Bucks’ boxes, coupling a 6-foot-10 frame and 7-foot-3 wingspan with a dangerous shot from deep and ability to attack the bucket off the dribble. Already with Giannis, Jabari Parker, and Thon Maker, Wilson gives Milwaukee exactly what they wanted.
"He fits the DNA of the Bucks, being able to play multiple positions," coach Jason Kidd said about Wilson. "We can talk about today's NBA — there is no position. He fits what we're trying to do here."
Through the first weekend of Summer League in Las Vegas, the forward has failed to disappoint. With three games down, Wilson is averaging 14.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Additionally, Wilson is just one minute shy of the team lead in minutes played, and is tied for the team lead in shot attempts. The Bucks are letting the first round pick grow, and he is responding emphatically.
With Tournament play coming up this week, it will be interesting to see how Wilson performs in more must win type scenarios. If his elevated play in the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament is any indication, he should flourish.
-Caleb Swanigan (Portland Trail Blazers)
Points, rebounds, physical dominance. Wash, rinse, repeat. By now, Caleb Swanigan has become a cliché, synonymous with a guaranteed check in the double-double column. NBA Summer League play has been no different.
Though his place in the NBA has been questioned since his early departure from college, Swanigan has done everything in his power to quell the doubters. More often than not, with sheer vicious will.
Through three games, Swanigan is averaging 15.7 points and 11 rebounds, while chipping in 1.3 steals for the Portland Trailblazers. It would seem his game has transferred just fine.
Swanigan now has the chance to become the next great Trailblazer forward in a long line of excellence at the position. Like Rasheed Wallace and Zach Randolph, Swanigan pairs a lunch pail mentality with a diverse skill set. Particularly, Biggie identifies with Randolph.
"I like what Z-Bo does, the dog in him," Swanigan told ESPN. "And it is every night for Z-Bo, you come out, you know what you are getting from him. And that is what I like about him and that is the part of his game I try to put in mine."
Swanigan should continue to excel through the remainder of the NBA Summer League. One thing is for sure – he will keep tallying those double-doubles.