During Saturday’s Summer League games it continued to become clear just how talented this rookie class is. We got our first look at a few more first round picks, as this class continued to impress. Yes, it’s just Summer League but the talent that has been on display can’t be denied. The bottom line is that this rookie class is special.
Kevin freakin’ Knox! When the Knicks drafted Knox he was welcomed by a chorus of boos from the Barclay’s Center crowd. After one Summer League game all of those doubters have been silenced, as Knox put on a display of athleticism, talent and natural ability that is normally found in top 5 draft picks. He threw down some nasty power dunks while showing elite mobility for size and showing a high comfort level as a face-up 4. We graded this pick an A+ on draft night and we stand by that grade.
Wendell Carter Jr. also saw his first action of the summer and did not disappoint. It’s clear that the Bulls have a rock solid center prospect who fits today’s league well and should also be a perfect fit next to Lauri. WCJ showed off his versatility, blocking shots on one end, draining 3’s on the other end and looking the part of a modern NBA center who can switch on D and space the floor on O. He plays a mature game, makes good decisions and really impacts the game when he’s on the floor. Look for WCJ to be a many-time All Star in the League.
Zhaire Smith played with a level of confidence and aggression that we didn’t see in his first game. His athleticism is truly special and his basketball instincts and feel for the game are elite. He’s far more advanced on the offensive end than he gets credit for and in the game vs. the Lakers he showed off his passing ability and also an ability to get his own shot. Coach Pop and the Spurs organization is surely watching and might demand that Zhaire be included in any Kawhi deal.
But on the flip side for the Sixers, draft and stash fan favorite Jonah Bolden has looked shaky. His uninspired play has been marked by poor shot selection, defensive lapses and overall lack of court awareness. He could be a long shot to make the roster.
Mitchell Robinson has big time potential. If he can keep his focus and improve his work ethic the sky’s the limit for this kid. You just don’t find 7-1 players who can move the way he does. He needs to bulk up, refine his skills and continue to learn the game but he’s got good instincts and elite physical tools. Great pick by the Knicks.
Isaac Bonga looked lost at times and made a lot of unforced errors but it’s clear he’s got an NBA future. His passing instincts and ability at 6-9 are unique and he’s got a bright future for the Lakers…it just might take him a few years to get there.
Hamidou Diallo might just be better suited for the NBA game than most people thought. He’s got a long way to go with his skill level and BBIQ but the pace and space of the NBA game fits his style of play well and his elite athleticism stands out, even on a court full of NBA athletes. Nice high-upside pick for the Thunder.