BY MATTY D.
For us college basketball junkies, the NBA Summer League is Christmas in July. It’s like watching an All-Star game of America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association players. There’s even a nostalgia about it. When Johnny O’Bryant III and Jarnell Stokes jump to the top of the stat charts for points and rebounds, you reflect on how it “felt like yesterday” you saw them as 18-year-olds flexing their way through the SEC. But for them it’s serious. So many super talented American athletes will never make an NBA roster. The Jarnell and Johnny’s of the basketball world have seen how hard it is over theses few years. And here are the rookies that we see making an NBA roster in 2017-18, despite not being selected in the first round.
5. Nigel Williams-Goss, Utah Jazz, former Gonzaga Bulldog
Obviously, the loss of Gordon Hayward opens the Jazz up to a vacancy for another primary ball-handlers. Williams-Goss already looked like a pro while running point for the Final 4-bound Gonzaga Bulldogs. He averaged 5 assists per game across his collegiate career. We could easily see Williams-Goss behind Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum at the point guard depth chart.
4. Anthony Gill, Cavaliers, former Virginia Cavalier
A Virginia Cav becomes a Cleveland Cav. And you have to think that LeBron James fully aware of what Gill’s fellow UV teammate, Malcolm Brogdon, did with up-and-coming East Coast contending Milwaukee Bucks. Virginia and Tony Bennett specifically is solidifying a reputation of planting rotation-ready players in the NBA. The Cavs are in desperate need to get younger. Players like Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson might have difficulty keeping a roster spot with what Gill brings in terms of low post grit. In college, Gill played power forward (even center at times when fellow summer leaguer Mike Tobey was on the bench). In the NBA and on the Cavaliers rotation, he can be a slightly smaller version of the types of things Tristan Thompson brings to the court.
3. Reggie Upshaw Jr., Milwaukee Bucks, former Middle Tennessee State Raider
This guy is a winner. Upshaw Jr.’s eye test report showed us how his sweet left-handed jumper and ability to stretch the defense propelled his Raiders to March Madness upsets. He looks like a Michael Beasley with the addition of court-awareness. His college team was a bunch that enjoyed rugged defense that turned into up-tempo offense. And Upshaw was the most athletic in a cast of finishers. The Bucks are seemingly stockpiling a bunch of hybrid forwards like Upshaw (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Thon Maker), so he would hypothetically be in great company to model his game for the NBA.
2. Caleb Swanigan, Portland Trailblazers, former Purdue Boilmaker
College Basketball Eye Test.com’s founder Matty D. is glad he started trolling Chad Ford in the winter of 2017 about Swanigan’s first round draft-worthy game. This kid’s got game. For all the so-called draft experts who said he was too slow and unathletic, we have one question for you. Was that same question uttered about Detroit Piston champion Ben Wallace? Because “Biggie” Swanigan’s game is looking more and more like a carbon copy—only Swanigan has the midrange jump shot and offensive foot work. In a city where Zach Collins was drafted first round, Portland may just have discovered that their best two forwards are rookies.
- Jordan Bell, Golden State Warriors, former Oregon Duck
The rich get richer. Jordan Bell is an elite shot-blocker. On a roster where rangy defenders like Andre Iguadala, Kevin Durant, Draymon Green and Klay Thompson already cover a lot of ground, Bell’s wingspan could help make up for any lapses. We leave you with this example…
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