It's one of the most underrated storylines of Summer League. There's simply no doubt about it. Each year we get blessed as NBA fans with a number of intriguing Summer League prospects. As the league has developed, it's become such a crucial factor for getting the rookie draft class some experience of the speed of the NBA. But Summer League hasn't just been for Rookies, as we get our fair share of "Sophomores" who have had a full season of NBA play and offseason training and come back to Vegas with a possessed mentality to prove their worth to the rest of the NBA.
It's pretty hilarious honestly. Have you ever had that feeling where you are watching something and one thing stands out more than the others on screen? That's a lot like what it's like to watch a rising star demonstrate his presence to the NBA at Summer League. These players often get shut down early in Summer League, as the organization gives the clear "we've seen PLENTY" nod and prevents a future potential injury scare.
Last season, many of us could argue that John Collins was the "alpha" of Summer League or a player that basically announced to the rest of the NBA "I'm the real deal and you all need to be on notice this year." Brandon Ingram was creeping on that path last year until an injury scare led to then President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson giving the "he's done" sign to the coaching staff in the middle of a game. My how the times have changed.
This year featured an impressive amount of overall Summer League talent. There's a serious amount of contenders for the prestigious Backcourt Violation "Too Good For Summer League" award. So without further ado, let's take a look at this year's nominees.
THE 2019 LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE NOMINEES
Lonnie Walker IV, G
- Walker has been everything that the Spurs organization and fanbase would be in his Summer League action including his play in the Salt Lake City games prior to Las Vegas. Walker has shown drastic improvement across the board offensively and you can see the game has started to click. Walker averaged 30.0 PTS, 4.0 REB, 1.5 STL, and1.0 BLK while shooting 58% from the field.
Aaron Holiday, G
- Check the box for Pacers second-year guard Aaron Holiday who is right on schedule with his development. Holiday showed a great feel for the game and was aggressive with getting downhill and getting to the line. His shooting percentage struggled (around 30% from the field) but Holiday posted 22.3 PPG in Summer League action.
Anfernee Simons, G
- Portland has to be more than thrilled with the play from young talented guard Anfernee Simons during his stint in Las Vegas. Simons stood out as one of the elite ball handlers in Las Vegas action. The second-year guard shot 56% from the field while posting 22.0 PTS, 4.3 REB, 1.7 AST, and 1.0 STL.
Chris Boucher, F
- If you're a Toronto Raptors fan you have to be excited with the development of last years G-League MVP Chris Boucher who showed more than enough flashes for the Raptors in Las Vegas. Boucher is a bouncy shot-blocking presence who is showing the ability to be a factor offensively as well. Before the Raptors final game, in which Boucher dropped 24 points and 7 rebounds, Boucher was averaging 22.7 PTS, 10.7 REB and 1.3 BLK per game in three games.
Miles Bridges, F
- Bridges did a great job of showing Hornets fans something to be excited about for the future. The super athletic forward showed a much improved outside stroke and was averaging 15.3 PTS on 59% shooting, to go along with 7.0 REB, and 1.0 STL in three games.
Mitchell Robinson, F/C
- Yes Knicks fans, be excited for your big man in the middle. Robinson showed everything you should want in a potential franchise cornerstone. Robinson looked like a prototypical "should he be playing anymore" candidate averaging 12.8 PTS, 11.0 REB, 2.8 BLK and 0.8 STL per game.
Tyler Herro, G
- You could make a serious argument that the Miami Heat sharpshooting rookie has been one of the most impressive players overall in Summer League, including his play during the California Classic. Herro has been outstanding and looks to be a great piece moving forward for the Miami Heat organization. Herro showed more than just an outside shooting ability, showing a great feel for the game and an ability to score at three levels. Entering Saturday, Herro is averaging 19.5 PTS, 4.3 REB, and 3.8 AST.
Carsen Edwards, G
- While Edwards might not win the award for "Shouldn't be playing in Summer League" he is running away with the "Why was he not a first-round pick?" conversation. Edwards looks to be an absolute steal for the Boston Celtics franchise. The microwave scoring guard hasn't missed a step from his college play at Purdue, scoring at all three levels and showing off some impressive range. In the Celtics four Summer League wins, Edwards put up 18.0 PTS on 52%.
Daniel Gafford, F/C
- It still baffles me that Daniel Gafford lasted until the second round of the NBA draft and Gafford has been brilliant in Summer League action for the Bulls. Gafford has great size and has pogo-stick like athleticism. In four games for Chicago, Gafford posted a 64% FG % while averaging 13.8 PTS, 9.0 REB, 2.8 BLK, 0.8 AST, and 0.8 STL.