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9 Takeaways from the First 9 Days of NBA Summer Action

By Matt Dykstra | July 11, 2018

1. Duncan Robinson plays his way to a two-way contract with the Miami HEAT.

Robinson has been sizzling all summer long, and it finally paid off with a two-way contract. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, but that’s not the most impressive part. Now through six games, Robinson is shooting 54.3 percent from the field including a blistering 58.8 percent from three-point range.

The 6-8 sharpshooter is versatile, has a high motor, and plays with intensity on both ends. Robinson serves as an added shooter for a HEAT team that could use a few of them, and will also look to be a strong building block for the 2018-19 Sioux Falls Skyforce roster as we head into the upcoming season. Averaging 3.3 made three-pointers a game, Robinson’s shooting ability is no joke and he will look to stay hot heading into the upcoming season.

2. Derrick Jones Jr. is ready for the NBA.

After signing a new contract with the Miami HEAT, Derrick Jones Jr. has done nothing but affirm the HEAT’s decision throughout his play in both the California Classic and now the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Jones Jr. is averaging 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, and that’s including his most recent performance where he scored nine points in just seven minutes, going 4-of-4 from the field before leaving the game with a sprained ankle against the Charlotte Hornets. With time for the ankle to heal before training camp, all signs point to Jones Jr. not only sticking at the NBA level, but providing an impact for the HEAT in South Beach.

3. Larry Drew II has plenty left in the tank, and is proving it in what is now his fifth NBA Summer League appearance.

In three games as the Detroit Pistons’ starting point guard, Drew II has averaged 9.3 points, 3.3 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in just 21.8 minutes per game. On a summer league team featuring 17 different players, the inflated numbers that might come with more playing time are not there. Thus, Drew II has had to leave his mark in somewhat limited action.

Most recently, Drew II dropped nine points on 4-of-6 shooting while adding a pair of assists in just 15 minutes as Detroit topped the New Orleans Pelicans 105-97 in yesterday’s matchup. Fresh off a pair of NBA Call-Ups while with the Sioux Falls Skyforce last season, Drew II will look to start the season on an NBA roster for the first time in his career.

4. Jarnell Stokes is still remarkably efficient, when given the opportunity.

Jarnell Stokes, the former NBA G League MVP and Finals MVP, found his way onto the Chicago Bulls summer league roster this season. It’s yet another chance to prove how effective he can be despite being a bit undersized. However, he finds himself playing behind Bulls’ first-round draft pick Wendell Carter Jr., who is understandably getting the spotlight.

In his Chicago debut, Stokes scored eight points and added a rebound on 4-of-4 shooting in just 11 minutes of playing time. He followed that performance with seven points (3-6 FG), five rebounds, an assist and a block in the same amount of playing time in his next game. Still just 24 years of age, and sporting a new hairstyle, Stokes will look to earn an NBA roster spot after spending last season in China.

5. Okaro White’s long road back from injury is almost complete.

After earning an NBA Call-Up to the Miami HEAT during the 2016-17 season, White quickly became an impact player off the bench for the club. White’s stint with the HEAT, however, was cut short by injury in a game on November 6, 2017 at the start of the most recent NBA season.

White eventually found his way to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he signed back-to-back 10-day contracts beginning on March 18, 2018 prior to signing a multi-year deal on April 7. Now through three NBA Summer League games with the Cavs, White is making an impact by doing the little things. With much of the scoring accounted for by Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton and Ante Zizic, White has contributed on the defensive end while averaging 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 points per game.

6. Malik Beasley appears ready to take on a larger role in Denver.

Last year was supposed to be his year, but Beasley was relegated to just 9.4 minutes per game across 73 total appearances during the 2017-18 campaign for the Nuggets. Now, he’s back with Denver’s summer league squad attempting to revitalize his once-hyped career.

Beasley came out of the gates with just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting in his 2018 summer league debut, but quickly righted the ship with a 19-point performance in which he made 6-of-13 shots while adding three steals and three rebounds in 27 minutes of play. With now a firm knowledge of Denver’s system, Beasley will look to carry his success into the regular season.

7. Ike Nwamu is finding his stride in his first taste of NBA action.

With each game, Nwamu has grown more comfortable in the NBA environment. His numbers won’t blow you away, but he’s staying within himself and playing his style of basketball for the HEAT’s summer league group. At just 8.8 points per game, Nwamu has taken a back seat on the offensive end of the floor to teammates like Derrick Jones Jr., Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson. Nevertheless, Nwamu has continued to make strides with the minutes given to him.

Finally, Nwamu had the breakout game he’d been looking for by posting 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists on 7-of-14 shooting in his third start of the NBA Summer League for the HEAT. This marked Nwamu’s first double-digit performance of July, and he did it in style by adding a few more plays to the highlight reel. This is new territory for Nwamu, but he’ll now look to build on his recent success next game against the New Orleans Pelicans at 3:00PM CT on Thursday, July 12.

8. Derrick Walton Jr. continues to struggle from the field, but is finding other ways to contribute.

Walton Jr. is just 13-of-49 from the field across five NBA Summer League games this July, including a 3-of-27 mark from three-point range. Each new game presents another opportunity for him to break out, as we’ve seen on many occasions here in Sioux Falls. He scored 41 points on 14-of-18 shooting, including 9-of-11 from three-point range in a game last season. Here are the highlights, in case you’ve forgotten.

However, despite his uncharacteristic shooting percentages this summer, Walton Jr. has been able to stay productive by stuffing the stat sheet in other categories. He recently scored 11 points (5-15 FG) while adding six assists, five rebounds and four steals in 32 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets, then followed that up with six points, five assists and two steals last night against the Jazz.

In total, Walton Jr. is averaging 7.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game for the HEAT so far this summer, and as mentioned, will look to build on those numbers in Miami’s first Summer League Playoff game, a rematch against the New Orleans Pelicans.

9. Matt Williams Jr. is an NBA-level shooter, but can the rest of his game land him an NBA roster spot?

It was a slow start for Williams Jr. with the Bulls in Las Vegas, as he went 0-of-4 from three-point range and 0-of-5 from the field in his first game. However, he’s turned it around since then. Williams Jr. was the only double-figure scorer in the Bulls’ loss to the Lakers on Sunday night, scoring 12 points on 4-of-7 three-pointers. He followed that up with an efficient seven points, two assists, two rebounds and a block in just 13 minutes last night as Chicago fell again to Atlanta.

With fewer minutes and fewer shots to go around with the likes of Antonio Blakeney and Wendell Carter Jr. on the squad, Williams Jr. has made the most of the looks he has gotten to this point, and will look to continue doing the little things that might help him better stand out to NBA scouts.