NBA Betting: Players To Watch At Summer League
The Summer League games are ongoing as the youngsters try and make a name for themselves. Players who are either entering the league after the draft, or who received limited minutes in their rookie seasons and still need to learn how to play, are both part of the intrigue of summer league before the NBA community takes a break and gives all its players a chance to rest before September training camp and the run-up to the start of the new regular season.
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
The No. 4 pick received criticism at the 2022 NBA draft – not because he wasn’t a really good player, but because most people felt that the Sacramento Kings needed to pick Purdue’s Jaden Ivey at No. 4. Ivey went to the Detroit Pistons at No. 5, so naturally the Kings received a ton of negative commentary. The Kings’ history as a bad organization which makes dumb draft decisions is part of this larger story. Remember that the Kings passed up on Luka Doncic when he was available with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft. They selected Marvin Bagley instead and committed an all-time draft blunder. The Phoenix Suns got DeAndre Ayton and the Atlanta Hawks got Trae Young. The Kings got nothing from that draft, so that kind of reputation follows them every year they make a controversial decision. It’s up to Keegan Murray to reward the Kings for their faith in him. Murray is also out to prove that basketball experts were wrong for valuing one Big Ten star – Ivey from Purdue – over Murray, an Iowa product.
Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
The string-bean all-court athlete from Gonzaga is a huge topic of conversation for so many different reasons. One of the main sources of intrigue about Holmgren is how his wafer-thin body will hold up against thicker, more muscular, more powerful NBA bodies. Summer league will put him in situations where he has to hold up in the low post as a defender and prevent other bigs from powering the ball to the basket. That’s the main point of concern for Holmgren. How he runs the floor and handles the ball are smaller concerns – he is expected to be great at those tasks in the NBA – but the strength of the modern game is where Holmgren will be tested on a continuous basis.
Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
The No. 1 pick in the draft will have a target on his back, as all No. 1 picks do. Many people felt that Jabari Smith of Auburn was going to be the top pick, but the Magic went with Banchero and were impressed by his play during Duke’s run to the Final Four in New Orleans. Will Banchero live up to his No. 1 status, or will his defensive limitations – which were in evidence during much of the 2022 college basketball regular season, but then receded in severity when he improved his defense in March Madness – hound him in his pro career?
Kenneth Lofton, Memphis Grizzlies
The big and beefy Lofton is a clear contrast with the dime-thin body of Chet Holmgren. Whereas Holmgren’s speed and floor running are the obvious strong points for the Gonzaga star, Lofton needs to show he has the stamina needed to get up and down the floor. Whereas Holmgren’s problem in the NBA will be his low-post defense and his power within six feet of the basket, Lofton’s problem will be how he runs the court and defends outside the paint. Covering the whole floor and being able to make defensive rotations in various halfcourt situations will test what Lofton is capable of.