Now that the Orlando and Utah summer leagues have wrapped up, the showcase that is NBA summer league arrives in Las Vegas. And the headliner is the 2017 draft class, as its members make their first impressions before the ink dries on their contracts. But you never know which players outside of the somewhat-known commodities will emerge and give themselves a chance to make an NBA roster for the 2017-2018 season based on their play at the Thomas & Mack Center or Cox Pavilion.
Below is a preview for the 24 teams participating in the Las Vegas Summer League from Friday through July 17. This version will feature the 10 Eastern Conference squads that are participating in the Vegas tournament; East teams New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic were Orlando only. You can find the Western Conference teams here.
First game: Friday vs. Nets
John Collins: The 19th pick in the 2017 draft out of Wake Forest, Collins has an opportunity for significant minutes with Atlanta after the team traded center Dwight Howard and reportedly did not even make an offer to retain unrestricted free-agent All-Star power forward Paul Millsap. Collins averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds a game at Wake this past season. Collins also made 75 percent from the line. He has range to about 15 feet, so it will be interesting to see whether the Hawks will try to feature him at some point offensively. It's also worth mentioning that Hawks big men Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Muscala and Kris Humphries also are free agents.
Tyler Dorsey: At 183 pounds, Dorsey is on the light side for an NBA shooting guard. So can he play point? The Hawks had a bottom-three turnover rate in 2016-17, and they cycled through numerous backup point guards behind starter Dennis Schroder. The 41st pick in the 2017 draft, Dorsey is at his best shooting the rock (42 percent on 3-pointers at Oregon), but his ballhandling and playmaking will be under the microscope in Vegas.
Taurean Prince: The Hawks had an eye to the future when they traded All-Star point guard Jeff Teague ahead of the 2016 draft to Indiana to acquire the Utah Jazz's lottery pick in that draft. One year later, Prince is still with the Hawks, while Teague and point guard George Hill changed teams this offseason. Prince and fellow 2016 first-round pick DeAndre' Bembry are the 3-and-D wings of the future in Atlanta, with Prince looking at a sizable role as the starting small forward after his improvement after the All-Star break.
First game: Saturday vs. Lakers (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Jayson Tatum: For the second year in a row, the Celtics were able to select a small forward with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Boston started Tatum alongside 2016 lottery pick and fellow small forward Jaylen Brown in the Utah Summer League, with Tatum already delivering two 20-point games and a game winner. Brown averaged only 17.2 minutes per game as a rookie last season, so Tatum's ceiling is probably about 20 minutes per game. Watch to see how much power forward Tatum plays in Vegas.
Ante Zizic: While one 2016 first-round Celtics draft-and-stash is sitting summer league out while injured (power forward Guerschon Yabusele), Zizic is under contract and ready to roll. Zizic was last year's 23rd pick, seven spots below Yabusele, and the Celtics waived center Tyler Zeller. There's a path to minutes for Zizic, particularly if he can demonstrate plus-rebounding ability for a team that was bottom five in defensive rebounding percentage last season.
First game: Friday vs. Hawks
Caris LeVert: 2017 first-round center Jarrett Allen will miss the summer with a hip injury. LeVert knows the feeling, as he missed last summer while recovering from foot surgery. The 20th pick in the 2016 draft, LeVert made his NBA debut in December and proved to be an asset after the All-Star break, as he became more comfortable with the range of the NBA 3-pointer. Look for LeVert to showcase more of his offensive arsenal in his first healthy summer as a pro.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Hollis-Jefferson is a small forward without adequate 3-point range in 2017. Naturally, his days of being a small forward are numbered, and the Nets started playing him at power forward next to LeVert down the stretch. In fact, after the All-Star break, the Jeremy Lin-Randy Foye-LeVert-Hollis-Jefferson-Brook Lopez lineups played 244 minutes and compiled a net rating of 3.8; no other Nets five-man lineup played more than 63 minutes after the All-Star break. Hollis-Jefferson has the defense part of 3-and-D down, but he is still finding his offense entering Year 3.
First game: Saturday vs. Mavericks
Lauri Markkanen: Two pieces of the Jimmy Butler trade are suiting up for the defending Las Vegas Summer League champions, with Kris Dunn also playing. Markkanen, the seventh pick in the draft, is a 7-footer with range, but the other facets of his game are inconsistent at best. The Bulls also reportedly remain interested in retaining restricted free-agent forward Nikola Mirotic. Perhaps a strong showing from Markkanen in Vegas will give the Bulls some flexibility in how they handle Mirotic?
Denzel Valentine: Only Butler and Mirotic made more than Valentine's 73 3-point shots for Chicago last season, and as a rookie, Valentine was right around average from downtown at 35.1 percent. So how does Valentine, the hero of last summer's Bulls team in the championship game, play only 22 minutes in the postseason? Outside of shooting, Valentine struggled mightily as a rookie, making only 36.3 percent of his field goals inside the arc, while getting passed over by Isaiah Canaan for defense. Valentine is an example of how summer league buzz only means so much; nonetheless, Valentine could use a pick-me-up kind of summer.
Cameron Payne: Perhaps the only player with a worse postseason experience for Chicago than Valentine was Payne, who played only four minutes, despite Rajon Rondo's series-ending injury and the multilayered struggles of Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams. Payne made only 33.3 percent of his field goals in 142 minutes with the Bulls last season. And now he has to compete with Dunn. Payne, the former lottery pick, lacks a clear path for minutes on the Bulls' roster after being included in a trade that cost Chicago Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick.
First game: Friday vs. Bucks (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Kay Felder: No general manager, no draft picks, no new rotation players -- the summer 2017 Cavaliers! Can Felder, Cleveland's nominal backup point guard last season until the midseason signing of Deron Williams, inspire the Cavaliers to let him challenge veteran Jose Calderon for backup duties in the fall? Felder scored in double figures in each of the four games in which he saw at least 19 minutes last season, but at 5-foot-9, he has to show more as a playmaker for others. He can get buckets, and he's explosive. Now it is time for him to show he can consistently get others involved.
First game: Saturday vs. Spurs
Bam Adebayo: The last lottery pick of the 2017 NBA draft, Adebayo didn't take long to ball out, putting together 29 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in a loss to the Pacers on Monday in Orlando. The Kentucky product is nearly 6-foot-10, with a wingspan of nearly 7 feet, 3 inches, and a 38½-inch vertical. With Willie Reed still an unrestricted free agent, Adebayo could be looking at a 15- to 20-minute role as a rookie. Pat Riley is so high on Adebayo that he said Adebayo's jersey is "going to be hanging up in the rafters." Maybe Adebayo can get that Nate Robinson jersey retirement in Vegas first.
Okaro White: The Heat have been pushing White, a January addition to the roster, to be a more assertive playmaker this summer. White is 6-foot-8 with enough versatility to play either forward spot; he's more comfortable as a long-range shooter. There's nothing like cheap, effective wing play, but White has to show he can defend without fouling as well as broaden his offensive repertoire.
First game: Friday vs. Cavaliers (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
D.J. Wilson: With Jabari Parker rehabbing his second ACL tear in three years, the Bucks needed help at power forward. Enter Wilson, who stands nearly 6-foot-11, weighs 234 pounds and is equipped with a wingspan of 7 feet, 3 inches. Wilson has 3-point range and shot-blocking ability, but he averaged only 5.3 rebounds in more than 30 minutes per game at Michigan. With that size and athleticism, Wilson should be a lot more productive on the glass, and the Bucks need it. Only four teams finished worse than Milwaukee in defensive rebounding percentage in 2016-17.
Thon Maker: While Maker wasn't even the best rookie on his team (shoutout to "The President" Malcolm Brogdon!) last season, he was Milwaukee's starting center after the All-Star break, and he averaged nearly two blocks per game in the playoffs. On top of that, Bucks coach Jason Kidd had Maker working with Kevin Garnett at points during the season. As the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, it will be interesting to see how Maker's unique rookie experience as a starter for a playoff team translates into more of a featured role in Vegas.
Rashad Vaughn: It has been a rough two seasons for the Findlay Prep and UNLV alum, so maybe a Vegas homecoming will inspire Vaughn. In 458 minutes last season, Vaughn attempted only five free throws. That's really hard to do, and Vaughn isn't a good enough 3-point shooter (32.1 percent) to be so averse to driving to the rack.
First game: Saturday vs. Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Markelle Fultz: It's all about 2017's top overall pick, and Fultz already has been busy in the Utah Summer League. The 76ers have averaged an NBA-worst 16.9 turnovers per game in four seasons under coach Brett Brown, while shooting an NBA-worst 42.9 percent from the field. Fultz has been playing both guard positions, so he'll be asked to make plays for others at times, but also prepare to play off the ball in anticipation of sharing the floor with 2016 top overall pick Ben Simmons this fall. Fultz also has shown to be an elite shot-blocker for a guard.
Furkan Korkmaz: Dunk Vader! Korkmaz, the 26th overall pick in the 2016 draft, spent this past season in Turkey. In 2016, Korkmaz won a slam-dunk contest dressed as Darth Vader. Sure, his defense needs improvement and he's very slight, but the culture needs him to don the mask in Vegas. At least in warm-ups?
First game: Friday vs. Pelicans
Kennedy Meeks: What, no Bruno Caboclo? The Raptors took forward OG Anunoby in the first round with the 23rd overall pick of the 2017 draft, but the Indiana product is still recovering from a January ACL tear. There are still a few roster spots open in Toronto, although the undrafted Meeks would seem to be in for a fight to make his case. No one was heavier at the combine than the North Carolina big man at 276 pounds and just over 6-foot-10, and he is a strong rebounder. How effective he is on defense might determine whether he resurfaces in the fall.
Jakob Poeltl: The Raptors are sending both of their 2016 first-round picks to Vegas. Poeltl, the ninth pick in the 2016 draft, struggled with fouls as a rookie and was only able to stay on the floor long enough to score in double figures three times all season. Pascal Siakam was actually Toronto's starting power forward, until the Raptors acquired Serge Ibaka from Orlando. Siakam went from playing 806 minutes before the All-Star break to only 53 minutes after. With Patrick Patterson's defection in free agency, there are reserve-big-man minutes available for both players, but Poeltl will be under the microscope to show some dominance and justify his draft status.
First game: Saturday vs. Grizzlies
Michael Young: The Wizards were one of only two teams that did not make a selection in the 2017 draft (along with the Cavaliers). Young, a four-year forward out of Pittsburgh, signed a two-way contract with the Wizards. He is 6-foot-9, 235 pounds and physical, with range on his jump shot. Defensively, he's a tweener: not a good enough rebounder for a power forward, but a questionable fit as a small forward.
Chris McCullough: McCullough tore his ACL in January 2015 as a freshman at Syracuse. He entered the 2015 draft, was selected 29th overall by Brooklyn and was included in the February 2017 trade along with Bojan Bogdanovic that cost the Wizards their 2017 first-round pick. McCullough has only played eight minutes for Washington and appeared in 40 games total so far in two NBA seasons. The Wizards are high enough on McCullough that they consider him to be their 2017 first-round pick, and he is an athletic power forward with range. But he needs to show more scoring ability inside the arc, better rebounding and defensive improvement.
Ike Diogu: This is not a typo! Diogu turns 34 in September, last appeared in an NBA game in 2012 and never could stay on the floor after being the ninth pick of the 2005 draft by the Golden State Warriors out of Arizona State. But here he is, trying to make an impression after playing in China for the past three years.