NBA Summer League Surprise Players

The 2021 NBA Summer League has produced plenty of solid performances, but some players have seized the moment and separated themselves from the pack.

LiAngelo Ball aka “Gelo” is the already-famous middle Ball brother of the Ball trio. He’s yet to taste the NBA recognition that brothers Lonzo and LaMelo have.

But he played well in his four games with the Hornets, shooting 41.0% from three and averaging 10.5 points in just 16 minutes of playing time.

Gelo also showed a knack for playing the passing lanes, averaging almost two steals per game, which ranks second in the entire Summer League.

Just maybe he can crack a 15-man roster after improving his stock. If not, he’s probably assured himself of a G-League deal.

The Indiana Pacers drafted the elder statesman in this year’s draft, Chris Duarte from Oregon.


A player at age 24 is an unusually

older first-round pick with most ranging between ages 18-21.

The former Ducks star fell into the Pacers lap and would have been a Top 7 pick in most evaluators opinion, if his age wasn’t so advanced.

With that being said, he’s been on a tear in Summer League, averaging 18.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 blocks.

We knew he could score, but the playmaking is what has stood out.

When you think about the Brooklyn Nets what comes to mind is their dynamic and lethal “Big 3” of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.

Last season, all suffered injuries that kept the trio from reaching its championship potential.

So it never hurts to have a real scoring threat off-the-bench and LSU rookie Cam Thomas is just that — a bonafide “Bucket.”


He was the 27th overall pick, has been incredible in his Summer League play averaging 23.0 points and even has two buzzer-beating shots.

He’s never lacked confidence,  which should bode well on a team with three superstars attracting so much attention.

Obi Toppin was drafted eighth overall by the Knicks in the 2020 NBA Draft, much to the dismay of many Knicks fans, including my guy JR Gamble, who wanted Cole Anthony.


Not having a Summer League last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic really hurt a guy like Toppin, who would’ve benefited greatly from it.

He did play a role in the Knicks revival — making their first playoff appearance in 8 seasons — but he’s expected to give them more in his sophomore campaign.

Summer League 2021 suggests he’s capable as the high-flyer is averaging 24.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.

Toppin looks like a guy who’s beginning to see the game slow down a bit for him.

Honorable Mention

Payton Pritchard – Celtics

Aaron Nesmith – Celtics

Sharife Cooper – Hawks

Jalen Johnson – Hawks

Trey Murphy III – Pelicans

Alperen Sengun – Rockets

Omer Yurtseven – Heat

Miles McBride – Knicks

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