There's something for everyone at Las Vegas Summer League. For the new blood in the 2016 draft class, it's their first real chance to make a name for themselves on the NBA stage. For others, it's an opportunity to jump-start a career and break into the league.
The following is our annual "back-of-the-envelope" guide to the 23 NBA teams participating in the Las Vegas Summer League, highlighting some of the more promising and intriguing prospects who will take the floor. The West guide is below, and the East guide is here.
Perry Ellis: Ninth-year-senior Perry Ellis (not really, but it feels that way) is finally done at Kansas and is ready to join the league. How ready? He already has an endorsement deal signed with... Perry Ellis.
Justin Anderson: After letting one 3-and-D stud slip through their fingers in Jae Crowder, the Mavs are hoping they can develop another one in Anderson. The lefty forward has strength and plenty of athleticism, but it won’t mean much in Dallas until he develops his jump shot.
Jamal Murray: Every draft class you have one elite prospect who falls a little too far. Taken with the seventh pick, Murray is a good bet to be that guy. He’s one of the best shooters to come out of the draft in a long time, and the Nuggets need that floor spacing next to Emmanuel Mudiay. Don’t be surprised if he ends up looking like the best rookie in Vegas.
Emmanuel Mudiay: It might be weird to see him here considering he started 66 games last season, but the Nuggets are taking full advantage of the opportunity to buy their young backcourt of the future more time together. Mudiay’s shooting percentages last season were brutal, but there were flashes of major potential as well.
Jimmer Fredette: Jimmer! This is going to be kind of like seeing a wrestler from your childhood looking lonely at a booth at Comic Con: you’ll be happy, nostalgic and then a little depressed all at the same time. Maybe Jimmer has a dominant summer league run in him like Adam Morrison did a few years back.
Landry Fields: Now here’s a throwback. Chances are you mostly remember Fields for letting Jeremy Lin sleep on his couch in the Linsanity days, back when they both were lighting it up for the Knicks. Unfortunately, Fields has been unable to hit a shot ever since and fell out of the league entirely last season.
Patrick McCaw: The UNLV product will surely have some fans in attendance, and the Warriors' contingency probably isn’t going to be small, either. McCaw has lots of length on the wing and would do well to show he can defend at a high level, as the Warriors shouldn’t need a whole lot of help scoring the ball this season.
Michael Beasley: This is not a clerical error: Beasley, the second pick in the 2008 draft, is really on Houston’s summer league team. After tearing it up in China and becoming a key contributor down the stretch for the Rockets last season, Beasley told the Houston Chronicle that he wants to get a jump-start on learning Mike D’Antoni’s offense and has no plans of trying to score 40 points. That doesn’t sound like fun...
Gary Payton II: The son of The Glove landed in a pretty good spot after going undrafted, didn’t he? New Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is considered a point guard whisperer, and Payton has plenty of athleticism to work with and a good opportunity to steal minutes away from Patrick Beverley down the line.
Brandon Ingram: Lakers fans travel well, and they’ll come out in droves for a look at their newest star. Ingram has freakish length and a smoothness to his offensive game that you wouldn’t expect from someone so young. He’ll have the green light all the way, and his July 9 matchup against the Sixers and Ben Simmons should be the one Las Vegas Summer League game you refuse to miss.
D'Angelo Russell: The dynamic between Russell and Ingram should be interesting to watch. Will Russell take a backseat and let Ingram create for himself, or will he spoon-feed the rookie with his excellent passing? And here’s something else to think about in these awfully quiet gyms: Have the fans forgiven him for last season’s incident with Nick Young, or will it be open season for hecklers? Either way, the Lakers are going to be the most entertaining team in the league, if only for a few weeks.
JaMychal Green: One of the lone bright spots last season for the injury-plagued Memphis Grizzlies was the emergence of Green, a scrappy energy guy who new head coach David Fizdale should quickly fall in love with.
Wade Baldwin IV: Baldwin is a point guard with a 6-foot-11 wingspan who probably needs to file a restraining order on Jay Bilas (a legendary lover of wingspans). He has all the physical tools to be a disruptive defensive force, and his spot-up shooting should come in handy for a team that always seems to be starved for floor spacing. He could end up being one of the big steals of this draft class.
Kris Dunn: Can he play with Ricky Rubio, or is he going to replace Ricky Rubio? That probably won’t be decided this summer, but Dunn is the type of player who will shine the brightest when the ball is in his hands and he’s using his elite physical abilities to put defenses in bad positions. The future is bright in Minnesota.
Adreian Payne: Payne is probably running out of chances, despite having an intriguing profile. Players who are this big and athletic that can shoot from deep are relatively rare, but Payne hasn’t been able to consistently demonstrate his skills or a solid basketball IQ. He needs a strong summer as much as anyone.
Buddy Hield: Being the best player in college basketball doesn’t always translate to NBA success (just ask Jimmer Fredette), but Hield certainly looks like he’ll be able to contribute for the Pelicans right from the jump. With Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson both reportedly signing in Houston, the Pelicans will need perimeter shooting in the worst way, and that’s what Hield does best.
Dragan Bender: He’s the runner-up for having the best name at summer league, but he’s also a fascinating prospect. Bender has a well-rounded game without any glaring weaknesses, and as of late, he’s become a much better perimeter shooter. It’s not completely clear what he does best now, but at 7-foot-1, his size is going to amplify all his skills. If he can play next to Alex Len, Phoenix could have the rare option of playing two towering centers at the same time.
Marquese Chriss: The Suns spent this offseason stockpiling all the intriguing big men, as Chriss shot up draft boards thanks in large part to his workout numbers. The UW big man projects as an ultra-athletic power forward who can knock down open shots, but those types of players are slowly being replaced by power forwards who can make plays against scrambling defenses. It will be interesting to see if the Suns turn him loose and see what he can do with the ball.
Noah Vonleh: The ninth pick in the 2014 draft hasn’t shown a whole lot in his first two years, but he’s still only 20 years old and is clearly adjusting to the speed of the NBA game. Vonleh isn’t much of a scorer, despite possessing a decent shooting stroke, and he doesn’t have the quickness to keep up with most power forwards. Perhaps one day he can develop into a rim-protecting stretch 5, but patience is required here.
Willie Cauley-Stein: The Kings have loaded up on big men during the past two drafts, much to the chagrin of DeMarcus Cousins. Cauley-Stein at least has the defensive versatility to make sense next to Cousins. He can really guard and he can really run, but it would help if Cauley-Stein could demonstrate that his jumper isn’t a lost cause.
Skal Labissiere: All the Kentucky big men! Labissiere didn’t play a whole lot in his one year at Kentucky, but he showed just enough of a sweet shooting stroke and rim-protecting combination to be a first-round pick. Maybe the Kings are planning on defeating small ball, one center at a time.
Kyle Anderson: He’s way too polished offensively to be playing in summer league. Go on a vacation like everyone else next year, Kyle.
Jonathon Simmons: Simmons broke out in a big way last season, and he carried the momentum over to the Utah Summer League as well. Unsurprisingly, it looks like the Spurs have taken another wing player from the bottom of the barrel and developed him into a real NBA player with a bright future.
Trey Lyles: Lyles has a great opportunity to learn from recently acquired forward Boris Diaw, a player whom Lyles was often compared to when he entered the draft last year. It seems likely the Jazz will lean on the versatile forward quite a bit this season, especially after he shot 38.3 percent from deep in his rookie year.