NBA Summer League action rolled on through the weekend with 10 more games being played on Sunday afternoon. There’s only one more big day of round-robin play on Monday before a smaller day of games on Tuesday. Then, the tournament gets started.
To catch you up on Sunday’s action from an NBA G League perspective, here are five standout players from the day’s games.
Johnathan Motley, Mavericks
The NBA Summer League is filled this year with talented big men picked in the lottery of their respective drafts. The headliners — Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Mo Bamba and Jaren Jackson Jr. — have made things tough for all the other bigs competing in Vegas.
But Motley has taken them all on and turned heads with his strength and smarts. Even during his head-to-head matchup with Ayton, Motley successfully backed down the No. 1 pick of the 2018 draft, going baseline and then gaining positioning under the basket for an easy layup — a subtle play, but perhaps the most impressive of Motley’s Summer League so far.
On Sunday, Motley scored 20 points and grabbed 7 boards against the Bucks, keeping up his streak of strong play in the Summer League.
With the Texas Legends, Motley has been given the opportunity to not only get stronger but to learn how to use that strength around the basket. The 23-year-old scored 22.2 points per game and controlled the glass with 9.7 boards per game. Motley did almost all of his scoring in the G League less than 5 feet away from the basket — he attempted 363 of his 535 field goals from that area and made a very solid 68.3% of those attempts.
All the work Motley’s put in has manifested itself this summer, when he has impressed media, coaches and front offices alike with his play against some of the heaviest hitters in the Summer League lineup.
Justin Jackson, Kings
Jackson had 28 points, including four made three-pointers, and four rebounds on Sunday. The Stockton Kings alum has an interesting offensive game that naturally fits well into the modern NBA. His trusty three-point shot allows him to be a floor-spacer whenever he is on the court. He can also attack closeouts not necessarily with overflowing athleticism but with tasteful drives and a trusty floater.
The next evolution for Jackson will be finding a way to do more as a weak-side playmaker. If the ball is swung to him on the weak side of the court, Jackson still has to work on his ability to run a pick-and-roll and attack off the dribble in order to really create something meaningful for himself and his teammates.
But the Kings knew when they drafted Jackson that they were getting an extremely hard worker. In college, Jackson was famous for his work ethic and his desire to practice countless hours on his three-point shot, which improved into a more consistent weapon over the course of his three years at North Carolina. Jackson has to keep putting that same work in whether he is with the big league ball club in Sacramento or if he is focusing on his developing while spending another stint with the Stockton Kings.
RJ Hunter, Rockets
Hunter first entered the radar of many basketball fans when he led Georgia State to an upset victory over Baylor during March Madness in 2015. He intrigued the Celtics enough to draft him with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
Hunter is still putting the pieces together in his game, and on Sunday, he showed off some of the progress he’s made with 24 points, including five made three-pointers.
On January 14, Hunter signed a two-way contract with the Houston Rockets as a part of his Gatorade Call-Up to the NBA. He still spent most of the season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, playing 45 games with the team. All told, he finished the G League season averaging 20.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He shot efficiently, making 44.4% of his field goals and 37.7% of his three-point attempts.
Hunter is another wing who has maybe the most important skill, shooting, but needs to continue adding more skills on top of that one. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers, famous for being one of the most forward-thinking and innovative teams in the G League, allow Hunter to develop in an environment where he is playing in an uptempo, three-point-happy system. That’s the right place for Hunter to be, as his length and athleticism also makes him a useful attacker in fast and secondary breaks.
Rashad Vaughn, Heat
Vaughn is the third straight former first-round pick on this list. The G League journeyman was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 17th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft and while he hasn’t made his presence felt at the NBA level, Vaughn hasn’t disappeared off the map either. Instead, he’s been putting in the work in the G League and in the NBA, looking to keep transforming into the player the Bucks imagined Vaughn could be back during the pre-draft process.
On Sunday, Vaughn scored 16 points, had seven rebounds and threw five assists. He’s playing for Miami’s Summer League team this summer.
Vaughn’s young career has already taken him to four different NBA franchises — Milwaukee, Brooklyn, New Orleans and Orlando. And, after Orlando waived Vaughn when he got hurt at the tail end of the 2017-18 NBA season, it’s unclear what his next move will be. But all he can do is keep making plays in Summer League, leaning on the experience he’s gained through all the stops.
— NBA (@NBA) July 8, 2018
Devin Robinson, Wizards
It didn’t take long for Devin Robinson to show off just how versatile he can be at NBA Summer League on Sunday. Early in the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs, Robinson used all of his 6-foot-8 frame to block the shot of Spurs’ first round pick Lonnie Walker. Then, Robinson sprinted down the court and finished the play on the other end with an easy layup.
Robinson finished the day with 24 points, three assists, three steals and two blocks, showcasing his ability to fill the entire stat sheet. The Westchester Knicks alum showed the same sort of versatility in the G League this past season, averaging 13 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and just under a block and a steal per game.