The NBA Summer League is a great way for NBA teams to get their rookies and young developing players ready for the next level. Even though the Summer League is not as competitive as the regular season, it allows the young players to get comfortable and used to the speed, spacing and technical side of the NBA.
Normally, teams with high draft picks expect their draftees to perform better and develop more quickly than other rookies, but does that always happen? We looked at how some of the NBA's biggest stars fared in their rookie Summer League games to see if those meaningless July games were accurate predictors of NBA performance.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James was drafted No. 1 overall by Cleveland in the 2003 Draft. James came right out of high school and dominated in the Summer League. The three-time NBA champion averaged 15.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 36.9 percent shooting. Pretty good for an 18-year old. Check out some of his highlights from his first NBA action below.
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook was drafted fourth overall in the 2008 Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. Draft experts were surprised that Westbrook slipped into the top 5, but he definitely proved his doubters wrong in the Summer League. Through four games, he averaged 16.5 points and shot 50 percent from the field.
Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was drafted seventh by the Warriors in 2009. The two-time NBA MVP could shoot then just like he can now. In the 2009 Summer League, he averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.4 steals. Check out some of his Summer League highlights below.
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant was drafted second overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2007 Draft. In that year's Summer League, he scored a lot, but he was inefficient. The 6-foot-10 rookie averaged 24 points per game on only 33 percent shooting. Durant scored 0.73 points per field goal attempt, a stat bested by 96 percent of all NBA players between 1993 and 2007. He also only averaged 3 rebounds per game, and he hauled in a mere 8 boards during the entire Las Vegas Summer League schedule.
Obviously Durant has no problem scoring now. He's one of the most deadly offensive weapons in the NBA. The 7-time All-Star poured in 28 points per game and shot 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from behind the arc.
Golden State power forward Draymond Green was drafted by the Warriors in the second round (35th overall) in 2012. Though he wasn't expected to and did not dominate the Summer League, his experience helped him become the superstar he is today. Green averaged 6.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and shot 27 percent from the field in the 2012 Summer League. In his second year of Summer League play, he got better, but still struggled, scoring 12.7 points on 31 percent shooting and grabbing 7.4 rebounds
Green has definitely developed his game since then, and he has become a vital part of the Warriors' success. During the 2015-16 season, he averaged 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists.
The Miami Heat selected Michael Beasley with the second overall in the 2008 Draft (after the Bulls took future NBA MVP Derrick Rose No. 1).
Beasley and Rose squared off in their first Summer League game, and Beasley had a better outing, scoring 28 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in only 23 minutes.
Since then, Beasley has experienced several problems, including being suspended for drugs. Nevertheless, he is trying to make a comeback. He's now a member of the Houston Rockets and is playing for them in the 2016 Summer League. The 27-year-old forward shot 3 of 15 for seven points, had 3 assists and 9 rebounds in his first game.
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