Breaking down how MSU, UM and other local standouts fared in the NBA's Summer League
When John Beilein left Michigan to pursue his dream of becoming an NBA coach, it sent shockwaves throughout college basketball.
The Cavaliers are getting a good coach, but Beilein’s departure mirrors many of his former players, who were finding spots in the NBA.
In Las Vegas, nine former Michigan players — all of whom played under Beilein — competed in the NBA's Summer League, including two from this season. Jordan Poole was a first-round pick by the Warriors and Ignzas Brazdeikis a second-round selection by the Knicks.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman played for Beilein’s Cavaliers team and did well as a backup. The other eight players had varying degrees of success in their endeavors.
Michigan State, meanwhile, had five players compete in the Las Vegas Summer League, headlined by forward Miles Bridges, who is entering his second NBA season.
There were four others who went undrafted and were working to get noticed and to try to earn even a two-way contract to play in the NBA’s G-League or to get a good offer to play internationally.
Here’s a glance at their performances:
►Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Cavaliers: Abdur-Rahman got some quality minutes at point guard for the Cavaliers and new coach John Beilein, who recruited Abdur-Rahman to Michigan. Abdur-Rahman notched 7 points and 2.2 rebounds in five games, in about 18.8 minutes. He struggled with his shot, hitting only 37% (13-of-35) from the field.
►Ignas Brazdeikis, Knicks: A second-round pick, Brazdeikis did well for himself in Summer League, with 15.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2 assists. He shot 51% from the field and played about 27 minutes per game. He got on the radar when he hit 30 points, going 11-of-19 from the field against the Suns. He already has secured a guaranteed contract, so he will be able to settle in with the Knicks quickly.
►Zak Irvin, Knicks: Irvin has played some with the Knicks’ G-League affiliate in Westchester and hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to grab a spot with the big team. That continued in Summer League, with Irvin playing in just two games and totaling two points and three rebounds. The struggle for playing time continues, especially after the Knicks reloaded their roster with young talent in the offseason.
►Darius Morris, Spurs: Morris’ opportunities of finding a full-time NBA gig are dwindling. He had a respectable Summer League, with 5.3 points and two assists in three games, with a good 46% shooting from the field.
►Jordan Poole, Warriors: Poole was the Warriors’ second-leading scorer with 17.8 points and added 2.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals in 29 minutes per game. He shot 40% from the field and had a highlight game with 21 points, on 7-of-16 shooting, with a pair of 3's. He was a surprise first-round pick and could stick with the reworked Warriors roster.
►Duncan Robinson, Heat: Robinson had an outstanding Summer League, with 17.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals, playing 30.4 minutes per game. He started to develop a niche with the Heat and could play a bigger role next season. His double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds against the Jazz, with two 3-pointers. His size and 3-point shooting could make him an interesting prospect for the longer term and keep him on the regular roster more than the G-League.
►Moritz Wagner, Wizards: Wagner’s debut was delayed by the announcement of the complicated trade to the Wizards. He had 10.8 points, 4 rebounds and played about 17.5 minutes. In four games, he showed some good skills and with the Wizards’ depleted roster, he could find a way to carve out a nice niche.
►Derrick Walton Jr., Clippers: After starting his career with the Heat and playing in the G-League and overseas, Walton is looking to latch on elsewhere. He had decent stats: 4.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists, while shooting 50% from the field. Walton is showing that he can run a team at point guard but may need to make a bigger impression in order to secure a roster spot.
►D.J. Wilson, Bucks: In the regular season, Wilson was finding a way to get playing time for the Bucks but only needed to play three games in Las Vegas as a tune-up. He averaged 6 points and 3.7 rebounds in Summer League. He wasn’t efficient, shooting 24% (6-of-25) from the field in about 24 minutes per game.
►Miles Bridges, Hornets: Bridges had a scintillating Summer League, with 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, along with one of he big highlight-reel plays of the schedule.
Bridges punctuated things with 23 points and going 4-of-9 on 3-pointers, against the Spurs. He only played in a few of the games but made an impression with his high-flying acrobatics nonetheless.
►Matt Costello, Pistons: After playing in Italy last season, Costello helped himself immensely with some solid performances in Summer League, averaging 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds. He started in all five games and was solid as a pick-and-roll big man and on the defensive end around the rim. He opened eyes with 20 points in 20 minutes against the Pacers and an eye-popping 3-of-7 on 3-pointers, in scoring 18 points against the 76ers. Costello could earn a spot as a third center on an NBA team or possibly a two-way contract. At worst, he could get a raise to play in a better league in Europe.
►Kenny Goins, Nuggets: In his only Summer League game, Goins had eight points and two assists, with 2-of-4 on 3-pointers, in a loss to the Rockets. Goins was buried among the Nuggets’ reserves and may have to play overseas next season.
►Matt McQuaid, Pistons: McQuaid had a predraft tryout with the Pistons and latched on to the Summer League team but was in a logjam at guard behind the experienced backcourt. He got some spot minutes late in games but didn’t score and didn’t have much opportunity to make a bigger impression.
►Nick Ward, Hawks: In five games, Ward posted 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, shooting 48%. He capped the schedule with 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, helping the Hawks go 2-3. Ward went undrafted and could have a difficult time making the regular roster, but he could get some looks around the league.
►Travis Bader, Spurs: The former Oakland sharpshooter wasn’t given much time to shoot his shot. He only launched four attempts while averaging seven minutes in two games.
►Brian Bowen, Pacers: The Saginaw native was one of three Indiana players who averaged at least 30 minutes, and he showed his promise with 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. After going undrafted, Bowen signed a two-way deal with the team.
►Yante Maten, Heat: Another summer, another solid showing for the ex-Bloomfield Hills High standout. Maten averaged 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in 24.8 minutes. He also signed a multi-year contract back in April.
►Kendrick Nunn, Heat: Nunn, from Oakland University, was a star of the Summer League, with 21 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5 assists. He led the team in points and assists — even surpassing first-round pick Tyler Herro — and Michigan standout Duncan Robinson. Nunn was selected to the All-Summer League first team.
►Edmond Sumner, Pacers: The former Detroit Country Day standout made one appearance, scoring four points on 1-for-7 shooting in 20 minutes. However, Sumner already has some job security after signing a two-year deal in February after spending much of his first two seasons on a two-way contract.
►Justin Tillman, Suns: The ex-Detroit Pershing star was looking to get his foot in the NBA door after beginning his pro career in South Korea. Tillman got a little taste of action, though, finishing with two points and four boards in 19 minutes.
►Shayne Whittington, Mavericks: The former Western Michigan big man appeared in all five games for Dallas and averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds over 18.8 minutes. He has spent the past three seasons playing overseas.