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Injuries, other factors limiting rookie class in summer league

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The incoming rookie class has shown tremendous promise in a limited sample size during the Las Vegas Summer League with several notable players turning in strong performances.

No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero was electric in his first two games before the Orlando Magic opted to shut him down for the remainder of their stint in Las Vegas, averaging 20 points, six assists and five rebounds. The team ultimately wanted to get a better look at other players on the roster and will rest him, as a result.

Just behind Banchero on the draft board, the likes of Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., Keegan Murray and several others have also had strong showings during their time on the court.

Others haven’t been quite as fortunate as their peers.

At least nine first-year players have been limited or ruled out of games entirely due to injuries or other related issues. The list includes several first-rounders: Jaden Ivey (ankle), Shaedon Sharpe (shoulder), Dyson Daniels (ankle) and Jeremy Sochan (Covid-19) among others.

Some had various ailments prior to summer league, such as Walker Kessler (toe), Patrick Baldwin Jr. (ankle) and Ryan Rollins (foot) that have prevented them from playing. However, in the case of four players, their injuries occurred in Las Vegas.

Pelicans second-round pick EJ Liddell on Monday suffered a torn ACL in his right knee versus the Hawks. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Teams are handling injuries differently now than in the past.

The strategies involved oftentimes do not sit well with observers of the sport. Fans want to see their favorite players on the court but with teams investing vast resources into these players, and millions of dollars in contracts, priorities have shifted in order to be cautious.

The Magic’s decision to rest Banchero after just two games was met with scrutiny by some. However, the team, in consultation with Banchero, agreed it would be best to limit him in summer league and made the appropriate move.

Though summer league games pale in comparison to the regular season, teams’ strategies to be cautious with their draft picks offer a glimpse into the general thinking of front offices. They want to protect players and are reacting accordingly.

Simply put, teams will continue to do what’s best for their players to maximize their long-term health and availability and that philosophy will likely continue for years to come.

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!


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