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Recapping The Best Of The NBA G League At NBA Summer League

By John Bauman | July 18, 2018

After 10-plus days of basketball by 30 NBA teams in three different cities, the NBA Summer League came to a close on Tuesday evening. The Portland Trail Blazers won the championship, helped by strong performances from NBA G League alums like Wade Baldwin IV, KJ McDaniels and Jake Layman.

Those three weren’t the only NBA G League alums to play well this summer. All up and down the Summer League rosters, alums could be found. On the court, many played well and showed off all they’ve worked on in the NBA G League.

Here’s a look at five of the best performances throughout the summer for G League alums who played in the NBA Summer League.

Josh Hart

Summer League Stats

Hart turned heads throughout the summer with his play, even catching the eye of LeBron James when the new Lakers’ star attended a game in Las Vegas this summer.

Hart’s final stat line in seven NBA Summer League games played – 22.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assist and 1.3 steals per game – was impressive. For his efforts, he was named Most Valuable Player of MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2018.

NBA G League Experience

Hart was assigned to the NBA G League on November 14, 2017 and played two games with the South Bay Lakers last season. In those games, Hart averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.

What He Did Well at NBA Summer League

Hart did just about everything well this summer. Every year, there is that fine line between players who may be too good for NBA Summer League action – Hart had a lot of success at the NBA level last season with the Lakers. This summer, he served as the offensive fulcrum for the Lakers and didn’t crack under the weight of the job. If anything, the second-year pro only raised his level of play when his team needed him to.

The former second round pick also showed up in the big spots. He scored 37 points on Monday to help the Lakers beat the Cavs in the NBA Summer League Semifinals. That double-OT thriller may have been the game of the NBA Summer League, as Hart was matched shot for shot with Cavs’ first-round pick Collin Sexton. But Hart prevailed, nailing 13 of his 28 field goals and coming up big in crunch time of the contest.

One Big Highlight:

This clip shows all the different things Hart can do on the basketball court – score, play a little defense and excite the crowd with big-time plays.

Wade Baldwin IV

Summer League Stats

Hart’s foe in the NBA Summer League championship game, and ultimately his foil, was Baldwin. Baldwin helped his Trail Blazers hoist the Summer League trophy with 14 points, six assists and four rebounds on Tuesday evening.

Baldwin ended up actually ended up tied for first at the NBA Summer League in assists per game – his 7.4 dimes was tied with Washington’s Chris Chiozza, and Baldwin played seven games to Chiozza’s five. Baldwin also averaged 13.4 points and shot 50 percent from beyond the arc this summer.

Baldwin also earned a spot on the All-NBA Summer League Second Team.

NBA G League Experience

Baldwin played for the Texas Legends as a two-way player last season before being signed to a full contract with the Trail Blazers. He appeared in 18 games with the Legends, starting 17. He was able to contribute with instant offense, averaging 18.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

What He Did Well at NBA Summer League

Baldwin really showed progress as a passer this summer. His assist total per game was impressive – equally impressive was that he only coughed up the ball 2.7 times per game. Those numbers are an improvement from Baldwin’s NBA G League totals, as he averaged 4.9 assists to 2.9 turnovers per game last season. The 22-year-old can now make all the passes and has established himself as an intriguing option as a third point guard for an NBA team.

One Big Highlight

Baldwin showcased some of his speed in this clip, slowly pressing the gas and then exploding to the rim to finish with a two-handed slam. He also mixed in a nice crossover dribble to keep the defense off balance. The result is a nice highlight for Baldwin, who is still young and has the opportunity to make many more over his career.

Antonio Blakeney

Summer League Stats

Blakeney reinforced the notion that he can flat-out score the basketball this summer. In five games played with the Chicago Bulls Summer League team, Blakeney averaged 21.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists playing 30.6 minutes per game.

He also carried a huge offensive burden with a 34.1 percent usage percentage in the NBA Summer League. All those shots led to a little less efficiency from Blakeney – he shot 40 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from beyond the arc.

NBA G League Experience

The Windy City Bulls two-way player averaged a league-high 32 points to go with 6.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 32 games last season in the NBA G League.

He was the 2017-18 NBA G League Rookie of the Year and earned a spot on the All-NBA G League Second Team.

The guard signed a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls last July after playing with the team at NBA Summer League 2017, and is currently on the second (and final) year of that contract.

What He Did Well at NBA Summer League

Blakeney, still only a 21-year-old kid still learning and developing his game, displayed an ability to score at all three levels that was honed in the NBA G League. With the Windy City Bulls last season, Blakeney was asked to shoot from every area on the court. He attempted 283 field goals from less than eight feet from the basket but also took 127 shots from 8-16 feet, 101 shots from 16-24 feet and 255 shots from 24 and beyond. That balance leads to development of a dynamic and tough to guard scorer.

This summer, he showcased his scoring ability in each area. Around the rim, Blakeney leans on his athleticism for acrobatic finishes and his relentlessness to score on offensive rebounds and broken plays.

He can also shoot from beyond the arc. This summer, Blakeney made 32.1 percent of his threes, but he made 35.3 percent in the NBA G League last season in a larger, more representative sample size. That 3-point shot will keep defenses honest and guessing against maybe his biggest weapon of all – a dangerous midrange game. Blakeney knows where his spots are on the court and always seems to have the right footwork to lead into a clean look at the basket. During the 2017-18 NBA G League season, Blakeney made 52.3 percent of his looks from 15-19 feet. All those reps paid off this summer.

One Big Highlight

Blakeney’s biggest highlight came at the tail end of his best night this summer – a 28-point outburst to help the Bulls defeat the Dallas Mavericks 95-83 on July 11. Blakeney shot 7-for-13 from the field that day and went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.

This dunk was an exclamation point on a great night for Blakeney and the Bulls.

Christian Wood

Summer League Stats

Wood played five games with the Milwaukee Bucks NBA Summer League team, averaging 20.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

NBA G League Experience

Wood has actually played 30 career games in the NBA, but they all came during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 NBA seasons. He also sprinkled in some time in the NBA G League with the Delaware Blue Coats (32 games played in the 2015-16 G League season) and Greensboro Swarm (18 games played in the 2016-17 G League season).

Then last season, Wood spent the whole year with the Blue Coats. In 45 games played last season, Wood averaged a double-double with 23.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He focused on his development, a move that seems to have paid off after his strong NBA Summer League performance.

What He Did Well at NBA Summer League

Wood consistently produced on both ends of the floor for the Bucks Summer League team.

Wood also had the third highest Player Efficiency Rating among all players at the NBA Summer League. His 33.1 PER was behind only Javonte Green’s 40.9 and Mitchell Robinson’s 34.8.

One Big Highlight

Wood is a powerful dunker. Every time he leaves the earth to dunk, it looks like Wood is going to bring the rim back down with him. The Blue Coats alum had a couple of nice jams during NBA Summer League and earned a reputation around Vegas for his rim-rattling slams.

Cheick Diallo

Summer League Stats

Diallo played four games for the Pelicans this summer, averaging 20 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in 28.6 minutes per game.

NBA G League Experience

Diallo was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft by the Clippers, yet he’s still only 21 years old. For some perspective, that makes him a full two years younger than 2018 second-round draft pick (and fellow Kansas product) Devonte’ Graham, who is 23. So the youngster has bounced around the first two years of his professional basketball career, spending some time in the NBA G League and some time in the NBA.

Three NBA G League teams featured Diallo in the 2016-17 season: He started with the Austin Spurs, played two games with the Long Island Nets, then finished with the Greensboro Swarm. The Pelicans kept him at the NBA level last season, using him in 52 regular season games.

What He Did Well at NBA Summer League

Diallo was dangerous in and around the paint, on both ends of the floor. Offensively, Diallo finished well around the basket and when brought in as a screener for pick and rolls.

In our July 9th recap, Diallo was also highlighted for his defensive prowess.

“He has a great second jump, showcasing some of the athleticism that made him the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game in 2015,” we wrote. “Diallo is also very active and alert; those active hands even led to a steal and fastbreak against Detroit.”

All in all, it was a very strong summer for Diallo.

One Big Highlight

This highlight is from Diallo’s best game of the summer – a 28-point, 13-rebound, dominating performance in the paint. The Heat won the game but Diallo won the night by showing what he could do for NBA teams.

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