The NBA Summer League: Survival Of The Fittest

Plenty of NBA fans tune into summer league play to watch their teams rookies in pro action for the first time. For some, its a fun, casual way of watching hyped draft picks and assessing where they stand before throwing them into the regular season fire. 

But NBA Summer League play is much more than that. In actuality, its much more ruthless. Most players on every roster, except for the high draft picks whove already inked guaranteed contracts, are playing for a slim chance to make their dreams come true. 

Guys who have bounced around on ten-day contracts, been playing in G-League obscurity or in far away overseas leagues, or were drafted a year or two before and their team is on the brink of giving up on them: all of them have something to prove. 

Each game is an opportunity for them to prove their worth as a player that can make a contribution on an NBA roster. The theme song to the summer league should be Mobb Deeps classic Survival of the Fittest, because only the strong survive. 

Heres a list of players who dont have the fanfare of draft darlings like LaVar Ball, Jayson Tatum or Markelle Fultz, but are balling out hard in Las Vegas to prove that they belong.

Bryn Forbes – San Antonio Spurs

Never doubt the San Antonio pipeline. After four years under Tom Izzo at Michigan State,  Forbes went undrafted; eventually signing with the Spurs for last year’s summer league. He played his way into a spot on the regular season roster, but barely played and spent most of his time in the G-league.  

After practicing against some of the best defenders in the league along with full access to the Spurs organization, Forbes is the Las Vegas Summer Leagues leading scorer. He put up 18 points against the Heat on Saturday, then came back the next day to drop 35 on the 76ers. The scary part is hes been cold from downtown. 

Full Highlights: Philadelphia 76ers vs San Antonio Spurs, MGM Resorts NBA Summer League | July 9

Bryn Forbes dropped 35 while Davis Bertans added 20 to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 101-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Subscribe to the NBA: For news, stories, highlights and more, go to our official website at Get NBA LEAGUE PASS:

While its obvious that hes a scoring machine, Forbes is a three-point shooter and if hes hitting from deep he becomes unguardable. Even without the three, Forbes hasnt been easy to check. He has the ability take guys off the dribble and attack the basket, finishing with a floater or creating space using a reliable step-back jumper. After his summer league performance this year, hes proving that he has the potential to blossom into a solid reserve player for San Antonio. 

Quinn Cook- New Orleans Pelicans

After winning a national championship at Duke, Cook went undrafted, and has bounced around from team to team for the past couple of seasons. At one point last year Cook was out of the league until the Canton Charge of the G-league picked him up. After winning MVP at the G-League All Star game, he earned a spot with the New Orleans Pelicans. 

Quinn Cook Full Highlights vs Hawks 2017.07.09 Summer League – 25 Pts, 5 Rebs, 5 Assists!

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This summer, hes showing scouts that he might be ready for something more significant. Through three games in Vegas, hes averaging 20 points along with four assists per game and is shooting over 50% from the field. The Pelicans need help in their backcourt and if Cook can continue this effectiveness, he will get some minutes in the regular season as a result.  

Cheick Diallo – New Orleans Pelicans

Diallo left Kansas after one forgettable season and was drafted in the second round by New Orleans last year. Many NBA scouts expected Diallo to be a long-term project because of his skinny 6-foot-9 frame, but were willing to take the chance on his Tristan Thompson-like skill set. 

He only played in 17 games his rookie season, but he looks much-improved and has been bullying people in the summer league. His first two games were reminiscent of the time he spent in high school as a walking double-double. Diallo posted a stat line of 27 points and 10 rebounds against the Raptors, followed by a 23 and 10 performance against the Hawks. 

Cheick Diallo Full Highlights vs Hawks 2017.07.09 Summer League – 23 Pts, 10 Rebs, 3 Blks!

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 In his third game, Diallo was on pace for another double-double, but was sidelined with injury after the first half. The gamble the Pelicans took on him seems to be paying off now and going forward, he could be a solid backup big man as he continues to develop into perhaps something more..

Wayne Selden – Memphis Grizzlies

Kansas University human highlight reel Wayne Selden has had a quiet NBA career so far. Last year, he skipped his senior season with the Jayhawks to declare for the NBA draft, yet went undrafted. 

He started the 2016-2017 season as a member of the Iowa Energy in the G League and received a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans after averaging 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in Iowa. He averaged 5.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting and 1.7 rebounds in three starts for the Pelicans and was not offered a second contract. 

Wayne Selden Vicious Dunk | Grizzlies vs Spurs Game 3 | NBA Highlights HD

Damn! Someone stop that man!

The Grizzlies scooped him up for the remainder of the season, signing him to a two-year deal, where he surprised many with some strong performances in short spurts during the playoffs.

Selden is averaging 24.5 points a game and is making a case to be next years NBA breakthrough talent.

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