Best performers from the 2022 NBA Summer League

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Best performers from the 2022 NBA Summer League originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Young stars were on full display throughout the 10-day 2022 NBA Las Vegas Summer League.

As expected, some of the lottery picks from this year’s draft class shined, while some sophomores from the 2021 draft showed off their development after a season in the NBA.

There are numerous candidates who fit the bill as one of the best performers from Summer League, but these eight in particular deserve credit for their outings in Vegas:

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick this year by the Thunder, starts off this list since he was the only player that appeared in the four-team Salt Lake City Summer League. His main concern throughout the draft cycle was his 195-pound frame at the center position, but he quickly put that worry aside and dominated on the court.

In Utah, he averaged 17 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 3.5 assists across two games. Though those slightly dipped in three Vegas games, his overall shooting split of 48/42/94 scream something special. Let’s see if he can keep it up against NBA-level opposition.

Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

The 2022 No. 1 overall pick played just two games in Vegas, but he showed everything he needed to during his stint. In 30.1 minutes per game, Banchero averaged 20.0 points, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks on a 41/50/80 shooting split. He impressed with his shotmaking, ability to create with his 6-foot-10, 250-pound frame and more. He did turn the ball over a ton, but having more playmakers alongside him during the regular season should alleviate those issues.

The debates surrounding the top two selections from this year’s draft will be a good one for a long time.

Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

Keegan Murray or Jaden Ivey? Those were the two players that dominated the conversation around who the Sacramento Kings should take with the No. 4 overall pick this year after jumping into the top five via the draft lottery. The Kings ultimately went with Murray to be their future star forward alongside De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, and the Iowa product wasted no time proving to the Kings they made the right choice thus far.

Through four games (he did not play the fifth), the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals on a 50/40/81 split. His high-IQ two-way play was on display every game, making him one of the top contenders for Summer League MVP honors.

Murray was voted to the All-Summer League First Team as well as MVP.

Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

Two picks after Murray came Mathurin out of Arizona. The 6-foot-7 wing, who can play as a shooting guard or small forward, went to the Indiana Pacers at No. 6 overall, making him Tyrese Haliburton’s running mate in the backcourt. Where Haliburton is more fundamental and crafty, Mathurin should play well off of him with his explosive athleticism and shotmaking.

Mathurin showed that through three games, where he averaged 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals on a 49/39/77 shooting split. With Malcolm Brogdon out of the picture, Haliburton and Mathurin are next up in Indianapolis.

Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks

Speaking of top contenders for Summer League MVP, next up is the No. 21 overall pick from last year. The New York Knicks guard has been stellar all throughout the tournament. With Jalen Brunson’s arrival making him the team’s lead guard, Grimes is looking more polished as he looks to get more reps in his second season.

Prior to entering the championship game against the Portland Trail Blazers, he averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game on a 44/34/68 shooting split. Despite New York’s loss, Grimes led the Knicks with 19 points during the championship game against Portland on Sunday. He attempted 11 3-pointers and 6.3 free throws per game in those contests, so that efficiency will need to improve, but the Knicks could have something here.

Grimes was voted to the All-Summer League First Team.

Cam Thomas, Brooklyn Nets

It’s no surprise seeing Thomas leading the Summer League in scoring after four games played. The second-year Brooklyn Nets guard has always been touted as a microwave scorer capable of hitting the toughest shots, which he illustrated last season, and that continued in this year’s tournament.

He led all players who played five games with 27.4 points per contest to go with 4.2 assists and a 44/27/87 shooting split. He drew fouls at an extremely high rate (12 free throw attempts per game), which bodes well as he enters his second NBA season, but he still plays like an undersized shooting guard at 6-foot-3 rather than a lead ball handler. Still, the Nets need to keep giving him reps.

Thomas was voted to the All-Summer League First Team.

Sandro Mamukelashvili, Milwaukee Bucks

Mamukelashvili was one of my four draft crushes during the 2021 cycle, and he seemed to have found a great landing spot when the Milwaukee Bucks grabbed him at No. 54 overall in the second round. He appeared in 41 games last season on a two-way deal but averaged just under 10 minutes per game, making this Summer League an important one for him as second-rounders tend to have a shorter leash if they don’t show improvement soon.

Mamu, whose archetype is similar to that of Sabonis as a left-handed center who can shoot and create from the high post, popped off in four games with averages of 20.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 assists on a 47/50/71 shooting split. If his upward trajectory continues, it won’t be long until he starts diming Giannis Antetokounmpo in meaningful minutes.

Mamukelashvili was voted to the All-Summer League First Team.

Lindell Wigginton, Milwaukee Bucks

Wigginton’s story is unlike anyone else on this list. The Iowa State product went undrafted in 2019 and later found a home with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ G League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, for that season. In 2020, he went overseas to play in the Israeli Premier League until coming back to North America a year later to play in the Canadian Elite Basketball League. The Bucks then picked him on a two-way contract this January, where he has been since.

Now 24 years old, the 6-foot-2 guard had a strong Summer League, logging 20.0 points, 5.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game on a 67/52/70 shooting split. If the Bucks have learned anything from this tournament, it’s that they might need to promote their two two-way players with a standard NBA contract.