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Las Vegas Summer League Preview

Brad Penne/USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Summer League is the NBA’s largest Summer League, consisting of 24 teams featuring rookies, second-year players and undrafted prospects looking to catch the eyes of NBA and international scouts.

Who are the top prospects at the event looking to impress? Each team has talent capable of landing an invite to an NBA training camp for the right to fight their way onto an NBA roster. Who will standout and get one step closer to realizing or continuing their NBA dream?

Atlanta Hawks

Prospects to Watch: Walter Tavares C, Mike Muscala PF/C, Brandon Ashley PF, Tomas Bellas PG, DeAndre Kane PG/SG

Breakdown: Walter Tavares is the big name on this list, literally. The 7-3 Spaniard is intriguing thanks to his combination of mobility and length (7-9 wingspan), giving Atlanta something they’ve desperately lacked the past few years.

Big man Mike Muscala saw NBA action last year and has the ability to stretch the floor at either frontcourt position. Power forward Brandon Ashley can stretch the floor while Bellas and Kane provide solid point-guard depth.

Boston Celtics

Prospects to Watch: Marcus Smart PG/SG, Terry Rozier PG, James Young SG/SF, R.J. Hunter SG, Jordan Mickey PF, Marcus Thornton PG/SG

Breakdown: The Celtics have one of the best young Las Vegas Summer League squads who has chemistry after just playing in the Utah Summer League. Backcourt depth is plentiful between rookies Terry Rozier and Marcus Thornton alongside Marcus Smart.

James Young and R.J. Hunter need to bounce back after struggling from the perimeter in Utah. Jordan Mickey played well as a second rounder, showing his ability to finish in the paint and block shots.

Brooklyn Nets

Prospects to Watch: Cliff Alexander PF, Khem Birch PF, Markel Brown SG, Earl Clark SF/PF, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SG/SF, Cory Jefferson PF, Juan Pablo Vaulet SG/SF

Breakdown: This Nets group lacks point-guard play but has a chemistry advantage after playing together at the Orlando Summer League. Up front is where the Nets will have the advantage, with Cliff Alexander, Khem Birch and Cory Jefferson manning the power-forward spots.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson might have been the best defender in this past draft. Markel Brown, the Nets’ 2014 first-round pick, and Juan Pablo Vaulet, a 2015 second-round pick, provide shooting ability on the perimeter. Forward Earl Clark is trying to get back into the league by impressing and making a team.

Chicago Bulls

Prospects to Watch: Doug McDermott SF, Bobby Portis PF/C, Cameron Bairstow PF, Vander Blue PG/SG, Diante Garrett PG, Rayvonte Rice SG

Breakdown: The Bulls’ Summer League team centers around 2014 and 2015 first-round picks Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis. Will McDermott take a step and become a valuable bench contributor this year? How big of a role will Portis have off the bench? Can Cameron Bairstow be anything more than an end-of-the-bench big?

The backcourt has versatility and NBA experience in Vander Blue and Diante Garrett. Ex-Illini swingman Rayvonte Rice gets to play for his home state and looks to get a camp invite from the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Prospects to Watch: Rakeem Christmas PF/C, Joe Harris SG/SF, Sir’Dominic Pointer SG/SF, Eric Griffin SF, Jerrelle Benimon 6-8 PF, Quinn Cook PG

Breakdown: The Cavaliers have a lot of solid prospects with length, athleticism and defensive tenacity who could earn training camp invites and possibly make the roster. 2015 second-round pick Rakeem Christmas has enough size, length and offensive prowess to possibly play a role in a few years.

Swingman Joe Harris returns for Round 2, looking to show improvements from last year. Pointer and Griffin are versatile athletic wings with NBA athleticism. Benimon is a skilled big man who has a versatile floor game which dominated the D-League last year, and point guards Quinn Cook and Keifer Sykes look to impress as undrafted free agents.

Dallas Mavericks

Prospects to Watch: Justin Anderson SG/SF, Jordan Crawford PG/SG, Dwight Powell PF/C, Darius Miller SF, Jeremy Tyler PF/C

Breakdown: The Mavs have a veteran-laden summer league roster highlighted by 2015 first-round pick Justin Anderson. Anderson has to prove himself from the perimeter after a breakout shooting year as a junior at Virginia.

NBA veteran combo guard Jordan Crawford is trying to re-enter the NBA, and could get a camp invite with an impressive performance. Power forward/center Dwight Powell tries to impress to solidify a role as a backup stretch big. Veteran swingman Darius Miller and big man Jeremy Tyler round out the roster as hopeful invitees to training camp.

Denver Nuggets

Prospects to Watch: Emmanuel Mudiay PG, Gary Harris SG, Nikola Jokic PF/C, Erik Green PG/SG, Ian Clark PG/SG, Jamaal Franklin SG/SF

Breakdown: The Nuggets have one of the more talented Summer League teams in Las Vegas. Mudiay and Harris might be one of the best backcourts at the Las Vegas Summer League, and it’ll be interesting to see how Harris develops going into his second year in the league after a rookie year in which he struggled.

Jokic, an international forward/center prospect from Serbia, came from overseas and is looking to make an immediate impact this year. Erik Green and Ian Clark should be a solid backcourt off the bench, and swingman Jamal Franklin provides toughness and athleticism on the wing.

Golden State Warriors

Prospects to Watch: Kevon Looney SF/PF, James McAdoo PF, Ognjen Kuzmic C, Michael Frazier SG/SF, LaDontae Henton SG/SF

Breakdown: The Golden State Warriors have drafted smart, and 2015 first-round pick Kevon Looney follows that trend. He’ll be an intriguing watch this summer, alongside second year pros in forward James McAdoo and center Ognjen Kuzmic.

Undrafted rookie free agent swingmen Michael Frazier and LaDontae Henton are looking to get invites to training camp. Frazier is a sleeper to make the roster, as he looks like a prototypical 3-and-D wing who could be molded into an NBA player.

Houston Rockets

Prospects to Watch: Sam Dekker SF/PF, Montrezl Harrell PF, Clint Capela PF/C, Glen Rice SG/SF, Christian Wood PF, LeBryan Nash SF

Breakdown: This Summer League roster is frontcourt heavy from a talent standpoint, with versatile frontcourt players with rookie power forward Montrezl Harrell, second-year center Clint Capela and undrafted free-agent rookie forward Christian Wood.

There’s versatility on the perimeter too, with 2015 first-round pick forward Sam Dekker, swingman Glen Rice and forward LeBryan Nash. Point-guard play might be an issue, but the talent is there. Watchout for Wood to impress, as he was arguably the most talented undrafted rookie available after the draft concluded.

Los Angeles Lakers

Prospects to Watch: D’Angelo Russell PG/SG, Jordan Clarkson PG/SG, Julius Randle PF, Anthony Brown SG/SF, Larry Nance PF, Jabari Brown SG/SF, Tarik Black PF/C

Breakdown: The Lakers might have the most explosive backcourt in Vegas, featuring All-Rookie First Team member Jordan Clarkson and the No. 2 selection this past draft in D’Angelo Russell. On the wings are potential 3-and-D players in Anthony Brown and the explosive Jabari Brown.

Up front, 2014 first-round pick Julius Randle hopes to bounce back from a lost rookie season. Power forward Larry Nance has a chance to validate his selection as a first-round pick this past year, and Tarik Black hopes to make a strong impression to help bolster a weak Lakers frontcourt.

Miami Heat

Prospects to Watch: Justise Winslow SG/SF, Zoran Dragic SG/SF, Shabazz Napier PG, Henry Walker SF, James Ennis SF, Travis Trice PG

Breakdown: Miami’s team is loaded on the wing and at point guard despite the loss of guard Tyler Johnson thanks to a broken jaw. Second-year point guard Shabazz Napier needs to show his progress after Year 1, and undrafted rookie point guard Travis Trice looks to earn a training camp invite.

2015 lottery pick Justise Winslow highlights their group on the wing, with second-year swingman Zoran Dragic also on the perimeter. Forwards Henry Walker and James Ennis also provide depth at either the 3 or 4. Miami might have the most talented Summer League roster in Las Vegas.

Milwaukee Bucks

Prospects to Watch: Rashad Vaughn SG, Damien Inglis SF/PF, Jorge Gutierrez PG, Sean Kilpatrick SG, McKenzie Moore SG, Johnny O’Bryant PF/C

Breakdown: Milwaukee has an interesting coup of prospects looking to impress in Las Vegas. First-round shooting guard Rashad Vaughn might be the most well-known prospect, but fellow shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick saw NBA minutes last year and swingman McKenzie Moore has been impressive playing professionally in New Zealand.

2014 second-round forward Damien Inglis provides defensive versatility. Point guard Jorge Gutierrez brings stability to the team, and forward/center Johnny O’Bryant could be a depth piece up front this season for Milwaukee.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Prospects to Watch: Karl-Anthony Towns PF/C, Zach LaVine PG/SG, Adreian Payne PF, Lorenzo Brown PG, Brady Heslip PG/SG

Breakdown: The Timberwolves’ Summer League team is extremely talented but raw across the board. Towns, the No. 1 pick in 2015, is the biggest attraction of the group, literally. He’s joined by uber-athletic second-year guard Zach LaVine and an athletic, versatile second-year frontcourt player in Adreian Payne.

Other prospects to watch include sharpshooting combo guard Brady Heslip and point guard Lorenzo Brown, as both have been D-League standouts for quite some time. Minnesota’s team should be fun to watch.

NBA D-League Select

Prospects to Watch: Scotty Hopson SG/SF, Taylor Griffin SF/PF, Romero Osby SF/PF, Hasheem Thabeet C, Joe Jackson PG

Breakdown: The D-League Select might be the least talented team in Las Vegas, but they too are fighting for professional careers both in the NBA, overseas and elsewhere. Swingman Scotty Hopson headlines the group as an athletic all-around scorer. Forwards Taylor Griffin and Romero Osby provide versatility on the roster.

Hasheem Thabeet is still 7-foot-3 and can block shots. Point guard Joe Jackson can get wherever he wants in the paint to score or distribute. This team might not be the most talented, but there will definitely be a lot of fight amongst them.

New Orleans Pelicans

Prospects to Watch: Seth Curry PG/SG, Larry Drew PG, Fuquan Edwin SG/SF, Victor Rudd SF/PF, Jarvis Varnado PF

Breakdown: This squad lacks talent without a draft pick this year and is comprised with mostly D-League talent. Combo guard Seth Curry should provide a boost from the perimeter alongside wings Fuquan Edwin and Victor Rudd. Lead guard Larry Drew should bring stability at the point.

Power forward Jarvis Varnado is an athletic, shot blocking ace that has a solid chance at a training camp invite somewhere. The Hornets might struggle in this Summer League due to a lack of talent.

New York Knicks

Prospects to Watch: Kristaps Porzingis PF/C, Jerian Grant PG/SG, Langston Galloway PG/SG, Thanasis Antetokounmpo SG/SF, Cleanthony Early SF/PF, Ricky Ledo SG/SF

Breakdown: The Knicks have a team with a lot of potential yet to be tapped into. Rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant highlight the group as potential cornerstones. Second-year pros Langston Galloway and Cleanthony Early hope to show the strides they’ve made after one year in the league.

Swingman Thanasis Antetokounmpo has potential as a 3-and-D wing and spent all last year in the D-League as a second-round pick. Shooting guard Ricky Ledo has bounced around but still is very smooth as an all-around scorer. This is a lot of young talent for New York to roll with.

Philadelphia 76ers

Prospects to Watch: Jahlil Okafor C, JaKarr Sampson SG/SF, Vince Hunter SF/PF, Jordan McRae SG/SF, Pierre Jackson PG, Arsalan Kazemi SF/PF

Breakdown: Jahlil Okafor had an uneven Utah Summer League, and the No. 3 pick will try to improve upon his performance in Las Vegas. Swingman JaKarr Sampson showed progress as an athletic, energetic role player last year. Swingman Jordan McRae looks like an NBA player with his size, length and shooting ability.

Forward Vince Hunter is intriguing as an undrafted rookie, and combo forward Arsalan Kazemi does the dirty work and competes. Watch out for point guard Pierre Jackson, who’s athletic and could act as a change of pace type guard in the NBA.

Phoenix Suns

Prospects to Watch: Alex Len C, Archie Goodwin PG/SG, T.J. Warren SF, Devin Booker SG/SF, Alec Brown PF/C

Breakdown: Phoenix is intriguing with its combination of size, athleticism and shooting ability. Centers Len and Brown provide two 7-footers with length and versatility. Combo forward T.J. Warren is a scorer with an incredible in-between game.

Ex-Kentucky guards Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin could be pieces to the Suns’ puzzle for years to come. This is one of the more balanced teams at the Las Vegas Summer League, and it’ll be interesting to see how they work as a group.

Portland Trail Blazers

Prospects to Watch: Meyers Leonard C, Noah Vonleh PF/C, Allen Crabbe SG, Pat Connaughton SG/SF, Keith Bogans SG/SF

Breakdown: The Trail Blazers feature what could be their starting frontcourt of the future after trading for 2014 lottery pick Noah Vonleh and center Meyers Leonard. Those two are surrounded by shooters in Allen Crabbe and Pat Connaughton to provide plenty of balance on the floor.

And, yes, 35-year old swingman Keith Bogans is participating on Portland’s Summer League team after taking last year off. It’ll probably be good for such a young team to get his mentoring, as well as Bogans getting back into shape for this season.

Sacramento Kings

Prospects to Watch: Willie Cauley-Stein PF/C, David Stockton PG, DeAndre Liggins PG/SG, Eric Moreland PF

Breakdown: Outside of Willie Cauley-Stein, there isn’t much to get excited for as a Kings fan this Summer League. Lead guard David Stockton should be solid as a facilitator, and swingman DeAndre Liggins is versatile and has 3-and-D potential.

Watch out for talented power forward Eric Moreland, who could impress with his combination of size, length and skill. The Kings don’t have much young talent after trading away swingmen Nik Stauskas and point guard Ray McCallum, and that shows on their Summer League roster.

San Antonio Spurs

Prospects to Watch: Kyle Anderson SF, Cady Lalanne C, Livio Jean-Charles SF/PF, Treveon Graham SG/SF, Wayne Blackshear SG/SF, Will Cherry PG

Breakdown: The Spurs bring the same team to Las Vegas from Utah. Positionless Kyle Anderson dominated the floor game, and Cady Lalanne did a solid job defensively. Swingman Treveon Graham showed potential as a 3-and-D wing.

Forward Livio Jean-Charles still struggled offensively, but remains solid on the defensive end. Swingman Wayne Blackshear and point guard Will Cherry are longshots to get camp invites but get another chance to impress.

Toronto Raptors

Prospects to Watch: Delon Wright PG/SG, Bruno Caboclo SF/PF, Lucas Nogueira C, Norman Powell SG/SF

Breakdown: The Raptors have a lot of potential in combo forward Bruno Caboclo and center Lucas Nogueira. It’s well-known how they addressed defense via free agency, but rookies Norman Powell and Delon Wright could be lockdown defenders in time.

There isn’t much outside these top four for Toronto. But Nogueira could prove to be a cornerstone up front, and if Caboclo can take another step, this team could be very competitive in Las Vegas.

Utah Jazz

Prospects to Watch: Dante Exum PG/SG, Rodney Hood SG/SF, Olivier Hanlan PG/SG, Trey Lyles PF, Bryce Cotton PG

Breakdown: Utah returns with the same Summer League roster they used in their host tournament, but it’ll be interesting to see if Exum returns after suffering a left ankle injury in Game 1 of the Utah Summer League. Swingman Rodney Hood will continue to show his scoring prowess.

Combo guard Olivier Hanlan has the ability to score but needs to improve as a facilitator. Power forward Trey Lyles has the skill and size to be a major mismatch up front for years to come. Watch out for Bryce Cotton to compete with Raul Neto for the third point-guard spot in Utah.

Washington Wizards

Prospects to Watch: Kelly Oubre SG/SF, LaQuinton Ross SG/SF, Scott Machado PG, Orlando Johnson SG/SF

Breakdown: The Wizards’ team lacks a lot of talent outside smooth swingman Kelly Oubre. Swingman LaQuinton Ross has always had the talent, but lacks consistency on both ends.

Lead guard Scott Machado can control pace but needs to improve as a scorer and playmaker at this level. Swingman Orlando Johnson has the tools to play in the league but hasn’t put his whole game together as a professional. This is one of the weaker teams in Vegas.

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