NBA Summer League tipped off in Las Vegas on Friday with all 30 NBA teams participating for the first time ever. Games will be held at the Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas and play will run from July 6 to July 17.
A number of NBA G League alums are playing in the league and putting up big-time performances. Here are the five best from Friday’s action.
Troy Caupain, Magic
Caupain’s 2017-18 G League season can be defined by two statistics: 50 games started and 37.7 minutes played. The Lakeland Magic went 28-22 in the regular season and Caupain started every single game for the team. He didn’t just start, though — his 37.7 minutes played per game ranked 5th in the league. That’s a lot of miles, even for a 22-year-old.
All those reps accumulate, mistakes are made and learned from, progress is made. In 10 November games, Caupain averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 assists. By March, he was scoring 18 points and averaging 6.7 assists during 11 games played that month.
Caupain has carried all that momentum into the NBA Summer League, where he is playing for the Orlando Magic’s team. On Friday, he scored a team-high 22 points off the bench in just 24 minutes.
Check out his highlights ⏬⏬⏬ pic.twitter.com/Uy7TFRXzJT
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) July 6, 2018
Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers
Sometimes, opportunity is all a player needs to break out. On Friday, Delaware Blue Coats alum Furkan Korkmaz got his opportunity to shine at NBA Summer League and dominated, dropping 40 points in 28 minutes of play. Korkmaz hit three after three after three, each seemingly a harder shot than the last. When the dust settled, Korkmaz had hit eight of his 14 attempts from beyond the arc.
Korkmaz bounced back and forth from the NBA to the G League last season. He was assigned 10 times to play for the Blue Coats, the last of which came on December 14. He ended up playing nine games with Delaware, averaging 15.4 points and 5.2 boards per game. Funnily enough after Friday’s shooting performance, Korkmaz didn’t butter his bread in the G League with a deadly three-point shot — he made 19.4% of his threes in the minors. But his form is sound and he has a deft touch, showing the ability to hit even the contested threes on Friday.
With the Sixers, Korkmaz never cracked the young and talented rotation of the ballclub. He played in 14 games and set a career-high of five points. Korkmaz’s career moving forward will be defined by the work he puts in over the summers and how much improvement he shows going forward. After a 40-point performance on day one of the Las Vegas Summer League, he’s off to a great start showing he’s put in the work and deserves even more opportunities.
Ante Zizic, Cavaliers
The Canton Charge are well represented on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Summer League roster. Six players have G League experience, including Lakeland Magic alum Jamel Artis and Sioux Falls Skyforce alum Okaro White. But the standout G Leaguer for Cleveland on Friday was Ante Zizic of the Canton Charge. He put up 16 points and 14 rebounds while keeping fellow G League veteran Thomas Bryant, who finished with seven points for the Wizards, in check.
Zizic was assigned to the G League 15 times during the 2017-18 NBA season, playing 18 games. He was a force on the offensive and defensive ends there, averaging 16.3 points on 57.3% shooting while also grabbing 9.3 rebounds and blocking over a shot per game.
His professional basketball career has been filled with twists and turns so far. Zizic, originally from Croatia, played in a number of European leagues as a teenager. He was selected 23rd overall by the Boston Celtics in the 2016 NBA draft, but found his way to Cleveland in the famous Isaiah Thomas trade. He played 32 games with the Cavs but never found a consistent role in the rotation. He’s talented, a big 6-foot-11 and is still only 21 years old. Even as Cavs first round pick Collin Sexton grabs all the headlines, the development of Zizic is something for Cavs and Canton Charge fans to keep an eye on this summer.
Malik Monk, Hornets
Monk, the 11th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, didn’t have an instant-impact rookie season like some of the other first rounders. But the Charlotte Hornets believe they have a great player.
Monk showed everyone a glimpse of who that great player is and what he could be on Friday night at the NBA Summer League. He had 15 points in the first quarter, including a 6-7 shooting performance and a buzzer beater to top it all off. He finished with 23 points on 9-16 shooting. Monk also made a game-sealing defense play, poking the ball away from fellow Kentucky alum Dakari Johnson as the clock bled out to preserve the Hornets’ 88-87 victory.
Monk was assigned to the G League on Christmas Day and played one game with the Greensboro Swarm this past season. He did well in his short stint, dropping 25 points in 41 minutes on December 26 to help the Swarm defeat the Wisconsin Herd 103-96. He spent the rest of the season with the Hornets in the big leagues, but went through the usual rookie inconsistencies. Monk’s talent is still there, though, and he’s another one of those guys that could make a quantum leap forward with one year under his belt.
Malik Monk buzzing with 15 first quarter points! pic.twitter.com/uKsZgSdQkO
— NBA (@NBA) July 6, 2018
Christian Wood, Bucks
Wood earns the unofficial G League alum dunk of the night award for his work on Friday. The big finish started when Wood, who played for the Delaware Blue Coats last season, backed down Sioux Falls Skyforce vet Larry Drew II on the block. Drew was no match for Wood, who spun towards the basket and exploded off the floor for the dunk. The 22-year-old Wood finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds to help his Bucks defeat the Pistons 90-63 at NBA Summer League.
Wood has actually played 30 career games in the NBA, but they all came during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 NBA seasons. He made the most of his opportunity in the minors last season to keep developing, though. In 45 games played in the G League last season, Wood averaged a double-double with 23.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. After that type of season and if Wood builds off his strong start in the NBA Summer League, another NBA team will have to give Wood another look.