As the 2021 NBA Summer League continues in Vegas, fans and teams get to see rookies, sophomores, and veterans try to outperform each other game after game. In a recent faceoff between the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons, Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, the no. 1 and no. 2 draft picks respectively, oozed sheer brilliance on the court. Their clash was the summarisation of how exciting the summer league has been this season.
Five sophomore players that have been impressive in the 2021 NBA Summer League
This year's summer league is important for more reasons than usual. After its cancelation last year, players were unable to use pre-season matches to hone their skills and prepare for the extremely rough regular season.
However, last year's rookies are battling it out as this year's sophomores. While most are eager to prove their might to their teams and to the league, some have already shown hints of successful careers that wait ahead.
Today we look at five sophomore players that have impressed us with their 2021 NBA Summer League performances. The following is merely a list and players are listed in no particular order.
#1 Patrick Williams (Chicago Bulls)
Second-year Chicago Bulls player Patrick Williams averaged 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in his debut season. Having not played in the 2020 NBA Summer League, he joined the 2021 squad.
In the match against the San Antonio Spurs, Williams was a key player for the Bulls. In an episode of The Void, Kevin O'Connor made the case for Patrick Williams being a key player in Chicago's future. Though we believe we cannot accept or deny Kevin's claim at the moment considering how young Williams is, we can't help but be hopeful for his future.
In his previous summer league game, Williams teased us with his aggressive scoring. He fought against the leading Spurs to register a 92-89 win and lodged 30 points while doing so.
The New york Knicks Sophomore player stands at 6' 3", the common height for point guards in the league. He played for the Kentucky Wildcats before entering NBA and averaged 16.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. He was picked as the 25th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft by New York and averaged 11.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in his rookie season.
After Kemba Walker's addition to the Knicks squad, there are ample point guards at Madison Square Garden. To get any playing time in the upcoming season, the pressure to perform well must have been weighing heavy on Quickley. However, pressure is a must for one to break out of their cocoon and Quickley showed class in his offensive assault on the Indiana Pacers.
Immanuel scored 32 points and registered 8 assists in the NBA Summer League match. His performance played a significant role in the Knicks' win over the Pacers.
#3 Desmond Bane (Memphis Grizzlies)
The Memphis Grizzlies youngster made his NBA Summer League debut this year and is already making news with his performance.
Desmond's rookie year was without any noticeable performances but he seems hungry to leave his mark this season. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in his 68 games for the Grizzlies in 2020-21.
Bane, a shooting guard, has had two noteworthy performances in his recent matches. In the match against San Antonio Spurs, Desmond scored 24 points, leading his team to a 82-77 win. In another match, Bane dropped a whooping 32 points while landing six of eight three-pointers and beating the Brooklyn Nets in their NBA Summer League matchup.
#4 Jordan Nwora (Milwaukee Bucks)
The Milwaukee Bucks chose Jordan Nwora as their 45th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. He played 30 games for them in his debut season and averaged only 5.7 points. Milwaukee went on to win the NBA Championship and some couldn't help but call Nwora a good omen for the team.
Superstitions aside, Nwora may not have had a significant effect on the team's championship bid, but his plays in the NBA summer league have been absolutely stunning. Nwora posted stellar numbers in the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers matchup, Jordan's 30 points, eight rebounds, and six assists led the Bucks to close victory.
During his final season while playing for the Louisville Cardinals, Nwora averaged 18 points and 7.7 rebounds. The 6' 8" small forward is a natural rebounder and scorer and is unmistakably turning into a good feeder. If he can improve his playmaking and movement inside the paint, Jordan Nwora could turn out to be a great asset for the Bucks.
#5 Obi Toppin (New York Knicks)
There are two players on this list from the New York Knicks, and the second one is as special as the first. Obi Toppin, the 6' 9" power forward was a scoring and rebounding machine during his college years. In his final season with the Dayton Flyers, Toppin averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds.
Toppin was picked by the Knicks as their 8th overall pick but averaged only 4.1 points in his debut season. The 2021 NBA Summer League was a platform for Toppin to shine and he used it aptly. In the game against the Indiana Pacers, he registered 22 points and nine rebounds.