• Gerald Malunga

Summer League prospects shine

The NBA Summer League is the perfect platform for fledgling NBA stars to showcase their readiness for NBA type competition, this helps the coaching staff to gauge the players’ potential and how they could fit into their plans. In this year’s Summer League tournaments there are two players who have impressed the most, namely Nickeil Alexander-Walker of the New Orleans Pelicans and Brandon Clarke of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

With the hype surrounding Zion Williamson, very few people would have expected another New Orleans prospect to make the headlines. Pelicans guard Alexander-Walker took the baton from Williamson (who has been shut down as an injury precaution) to lead the team in scoring, he averaged 24.3 points, 6 assists and 4.8 rebounds made it all the way to the semifinals of the Summer League (Las Vegas edition).

His best performance was against Miami Heat as he posted 34 points (including five 3-pointers) in the quarterfinals. Alexander-Walker was named in the NBA Summer League First Team for his efforts. The Pelicans prospect is an athletic and explosive guard whose strength is not only scoring but also his playmaking, he was ranked fifth in the passing category in the Summer League with 6 dimes per game.

Brandon Clarke

The Memphis Grizzlies were crowned the Summer League champions after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-92 in the championship game. A big part of their championship winning performance was Brandon Clarke’s exploits, the Grizzlies man recorded a double-double in the championship decider with 15 points and 16 points to go along with 3 blocks and 1 steal.

Clarke was voted the Summer League MVP and the championship game MVP, collecting an unprecedented double which makes the first ever player to achieve that feat simultaneously. To top it all off, he was also named in the NBA Summer League First Team. Clarke was the Grizzlies’ stand out player as he tallied 14.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in the Summer League.

Stand out African players

Undrafted talent Tacko Fall showcased his talent in the Summer League and convinced the Boston Celtics to consider tying him to a two-way contract, the big man proved his worth as he helped the Celtics finish as the first seed before the knock-out phase. Fall averaged 7.2 points, 4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in 12.6 minutes per game while converting 77% of his field goal attempts. Fall showcased that he can develop into a great rebounder and shot blocker.

Another African player who has performed reasonably well is Deng Adel of the Houston Rockets. The 22-year-old averaged 8.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, he clocked 24.4 minutes per game. Adel showed that he could be an offensive threat if given the platform to be a big part of the offense as he notched 20 points and dished out 7 assists in the Rockets’ final Summer League game, he has also improved his long range shooting and his overall movement in offensive situations.

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