There's something for everyone at Las Vegas Summer League. For the prized rookies in the 2015 draft class, it's a chance to get their feet wet. For the prospects who haven't found luck in the league yet, it's an opportunity to jump-start a career. For others, it's simply a shot at getting on the radar.
The following is our annual "back of the envelope" guide to the 23 NBA teams (and D-League Select Team) participating in the Las Vegas Summer League, highlighting some of the more promising and intriguing prospects who will take the floor. The East guide is below, and the West guide is here.
Edy Tavares: He's proof that there are still giants waiting to be discovered. Despite being 7-3, Tavares somehow managed to avoid picking up a basketball until six years ago. He's essentially a great big ball of clay right now, but apparently Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer is ready to mold him, as Tavares recently signed a multiyear contract.
Brandon Ashley: Like so many before him, Ashley left school early just to go undrafted. Ashley was a McDonald's All-American out of high school, but he regularly took a backseat in his three seasons at Arizona. If he can show legitimate NBA 3-point range in this setting, he could play himself into a training camp invite somewhere.
Millsap/Horford: Millsap and Horford ... at summer league? That's right. Paul and Al won't be playing, but their brothers will be (even though Abraham Millsap's college career consists of 30 whole minutes at Middle Tennessee State). Al Horford's brother, Jon, has a more legitimate claim to a roster spot, but nepotism is thinly veiled in Vegas.
Terry Rozier: Many people were surprised to see him go at pick No. 16 in this year's draft, but Rozier is a Brad Stevens guy all the way: he loves to hound ball handlers and get his hands dirty defensively. If he proves to be a solid spot-up threat from behind the arc, the Celtics could very well have a Patrick Beverley clone on their hands.
R.J. Hunter: How will Hunter look in more of a complementary role? For the first time in a long time, after being the man at Georgia State, Hunter won't see defenses constantly tilting the floor his way. Although he won't reap the benefits of well-designed sets to free him for open looks quite yet, it will be interesting to see how Hunter adapts to his new surroundings.
James Young: Muscle watch! The 17th overall pick of last year's draft has reportedly added the industry standard "15 pounds of muscle" to his frame, which should help him feel more confident in putting the ball on the deck. Young is primarily a shooter for now, but there's a complete offensive player in here somewhere.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: It's a scary proposition to draft a wing player who can't shoot in today's NBA, but Hollis-Jefferson has too many physical gifts to dismiss. He's weirdly similar to Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, right down to the hyphenated last name and wacky free throw routine (MKG used to jump, RHJ has the shimmy). But is RHJ's jumper also broken to the point where it needs a total overhaul?
Cliff Alexander: How did we get here? Alexander was once the No. 2 high school player in the nation and considered a lock for the lottery at the start of the season, but an underwhelming freshman campaign at Kansas sank his stock like a stone. After going undrafted, Alexander has to show he was under-utilized in Bill Self's system, which certainly wouldn't be a first.
Ryan Boatright: At 6-1, 170 pounds, Boatright will be one of the smallest players at summer league, but he'll also be one of the only NCAA champions. Boatright, who went to UConn, is a great athlete who can really score out of the pick-and-roll, and those types typically fare pretty well here.
Doug McDermott: Exit Tom Thibodeau, whose aversion to playing rookies was well-documented. That might mean McBuckets will be on the loose, particularly if he proves to be competent enough defensively to spend time as a stretch 4. McDermott is a much better shooter than his rookie season (40.2 percent from the floor, 31.7 percent from 3) would lead you to believe. Don't be surprised if he reminds everyone of that with a monster performance in Vegas.
Bobby Portis: Can he be more than a role player? Portis brings great energy for his size (6-11, 246 pounds), but summer league is crawling with similar players. He won't be a featured offensive option any time soon for the Bulls, so Portis would be wise to place an emphasis on protecting the rim and cleaning the glass.
Cameron Bairstow: Is he the next Australian to come out of nowhere and make a difference for a contender? Bairstow may not be Matthew Dellavedova, but he is a killer midrange shooter with the size to bang around in the paint. He also looks just like '80s villain Billy Zabka when he's angry, which has earned him at least one fan.
Rakeem Christmas: Big men tend to develop at a slower rate than guards, and Christmas is a good example of that. After three underwhelming seasons at Syracuse, Christmas exploded onto the scene his senior year and finally put his NBA frame and 7-foot-5 wingspan to good use. As is the case with all Syracuse grads, it will be interesting to see how Christmas fares defensively outside of the familiar confines of the 2-3 zone.
Sir'Dominic Pointer: Best name at summer league alert! Sir'Dominic didn't display any 3-point capabilities in his four years at St. John's, but the Cavs took him in the second round anyway. While LeBron wasn't quite as vocal about his draft desires this year (remember the Shabazz Napier fiasco?), it is interesting to wonder who pushed for a versatile wing defender like Pointer on draft day.
Eric Griffin: He'll be good for at least one, "Who the heck is that guy?" moment this summer. Griffin has ridiculous bounce, and he's started to supplement all that athletic ability with a pretty decent jumper. Considering how well he played in the D-League last season, Griffin might not be far from earning a roster spot somewhere.
Justise Winslow: After he fell into the Heat's laps with the 10th pick, Winslow could end up being one of the more important rookies next season. It feels like the rookie from Duke simultaneously has one of the highest floors and ceilings of any player in the draft. If Miami is smart, Winslow will get buffet-style touches in Vegas to see what he can do right away.
Zoran Dragic: You'll see a lot of family members getting undeserved playing time here, but Zoran proved last summer during international competition that he can really play. With Goran having agreed to sign long-term in Miami, you better believe Zoran will get every opportunity to show that he can successfully run a team on his own.
Shabazz Napier: His rookie year was a little unlucky with LeBron leaving for Cleveland and Goran Dragic coming over from Phoenix. Still, Napier could fulfill an important role as a backup point guard for a contender, provided he can keep Mario Chalmers at bay or at least nudge him over to shooting guard. There's potential here, but Napier will have to start making defenses pay for giving him space.
Rashad Vaughn: Of course the Bucks would have the youngest player at summer league, right? Vaughn is still just 18 years old, but the UNLV star will have home-court advantage working in his favor. Vaughn should have the green light as well, as he projects to be the perimeter sniper in Milwaukee's young core.
Damien Inglis: After missing the proceedings last year because of a broken foot, the 31st pick of the 2014 draft will finally get to show his stuff. Inglis has an NBA frame and is a crafty playmaker, but the Bucks will likely be interested to see his development as a stretch 4.
Jorge Gutierrez/Jerome Randle: It's probably not a coincidence that Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who starred at Cal many moons ago, went out and added two point guards from his alma mater. Gutierrez is the guy to keep an eye on -- he played under Kidd in Brooklyn and could make the roster as an emergency point guard.
New York Knicks
Kristaps Porzingis: It's still unclear whether Porzingis will play at summer league, as he's dealing with hip tightness. If he does play, he'll be must-see TV. Seven-footers aren't supposed to be curling around screens and burying jumpers, but Porzingis is plenty capable. It's dangerous to put too much stock into summer league, but it would be nice if Zinger put some of the more asinine player comparisons to bed nice and early.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo: Yes, there are two Greek Freaks. Giannis' older brother isn't as gifted, but he's a bundle of energy who can make plays in transition and cause lots of turnovers. Thanasis plays annoyingly hard and has some nastiness to his game, which is something the Knicks could really use going forward.
Jerian Grant: One of college's best pick-and-roll distributors will have to adjust to the triangle, but Grant has the prototypical size and makeup we've seen from point guards who have had success in that system in the past. Although he's a capable scorer, expect Grant to earn some brownie points by running the basics of Derek Fisher's offense.
Jahlil Okafor: We've gotten an early taste of what Okafor can do at the Utah Summer League, as he's displayed a few strong post moves on the block. The questions, however, remain: Is he the next Al Jefferson, or something more? Can he pass out of the post? Can he defend the pick-and-roll and protect the rim? No rookie will be more closely dissected than Okafor will be in Vegas.
JaKarr Sampson: Did you know Sampson started 32 games for the Sixers last season? Sampson wasn't overly impressive from a skill standpoint, but his hard-nosed play clearly earned the affection of coach Brett Brown. Look for him to take advantage of the available possessions Okafor doesn't use.
Jordan McRae: The 76ers built a strong defense last season based around athletic, long, hardworking players. McRae could potentially fit right in, especially if he continues to refine his shooting touch. He's the type of player who won't take much off the table, and he could find a role similar to the one Justin Holiday occupied for the Warriors last season.
Bruno Caboclo: Remember when ESPN draft analyst Fran Fraschilla said "he's two years away from being two years away"? Well, we're now one year away from Caboclo being two years away. The small forward with a 7-foot-7 wingspan didn't do much as a rookie, but expect to see the light bulb start to flicker. He's a little smoother with the ball than most anticipated.
Bebe Nogueira: Hey, Bebe! The best hair you'll ever see is back in action, and he'll look to once again show that he's a capable rim protector who can run the floor. With Toronto losing Amir Johnson to free agency, Nogueira could play himself into some minutes this season.
Delon Wright: The 20th pick in the draft should slot in immediately as the third guard in Toronto now that Greivis Vasquez is gone, and his size and length could make for a big upgrade defensively. Wright was one of the most productive players in all of college basketball this past season, and it feels like he's a consistent jumper away from being a very well-rounded threat at the next level.
Kelly Oubre Jr.: He says he's a jewel, a steal, and that he's ready to win a championship. And that was all in one quote. Wizards fans won't mind if Oubre Jr. has a little Gilbert Arenas in him, but coach Randy Wittman will probably be more interested in how he holds up defensively in his first NBA action. This should be fun.
Toure' Murry: If the Wizards have enjoyed the Garrett Temple Experience, Murry could provide similar production with more upside. He's a versatile defender who can do a little bit of everything, and if he shows that he has improved his jumper, he should generate some interest around the league.
Aaron White: Both the Wizards players and coaching staff haven't been bashful about expressing the need for a stretch 4, and perhaps the hope is that White can develop into one. Although he was far from a prolific 3-point threat at Iowa, White's lift-and-go game and ability to draw fouls and knock down free throws at a high rate bode well.