NBA Summer League basketball: the pinnacle of professional sports viewing. Or just something to help pass the time until the actual start of the 2018-2019 NBA season starts. As unattractive as NBA Summer League might be, it is still a great stepping stone for many young players as their first foray into the NBA.
The Bucks have released their official roster which is Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown, Jordan Barnett, Brandon McCoy, Trae Bell-Haynes, James Blackmon Jr., Perry Ellis, T.J. Cline, JeQuan Lewis, Tim Quarterman, Jae’sean Tate, Travis Trice and Christian Wood
There is a plethora of guys on the Bucks Summer League roster, but only a handful will have an opportunity to make the Bucks roster and an even smaller handful might potentially yield some production for the Bucks during the regular season. Who might those few guys be and what do we want to see from them in their time in Vegas?
Lets start with the obvious one here, Donte Divincenzo or the Big Ragu for short. Being a first round pick, Divincenzo will be making the Bucks roster and has the highest up-side to contribute to the Bucks during the regular season. He is a great spot-up shooter, an unselfish passer and a fierce competitor who is not afraid of big moments.
What to look for in his summer league debut
- Consistent shooting
- Alpha dog mentality
- Play making ability
The only problem was that at his time at Villanova he was playing second and third fiddle to the likes of Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson. What I want to see out of Divincenzo is shots, and a lot of them. We know Divincenzo has NBA range, but I want to see consistency to go with that range.
What I also want to see Divincenzo do is create his own shot. Playing alongside such a talented team Donte never really needed to create his own shot. In the NBA it is much harder to get the open looks that he was getting in college. Although he will still be doing plenty of spot-up shooting, especially with how much attention Giannis requires at all times while on the court.
The next Buck that will be given the most opportunity in the regular season that should appear on the Bucks Summer League roster for the second year in a row is Sterling Brown. Brown has what not many of the Summer League player have and that is legitimate NBA playing time averaging 14.4 minutes a game and 4.0 points a game on 40% shooting.
What do I want to see Sterling do in Summer League:
- Create space on the floor
- Hit open shots
- Play within the new defensive scheme
What Brown needs to do in Summer League is much of the same as he did last season, which is being able to create spacing on offense and hit open shots. On the defensive end, Brown needs to continue to be an agitator. One of the things I would like to see Brown do is guard a variety of different positions, not just shooting guards. Brown is long and quick and did an admirable job on the defensive end last season. If Brown spent his summers guarding point guards and small forwards it would be a welcome challenge for the second-year player.
Now I have come to the point where I am obligated to talk about D.J. Wilson…There is no doubt in my mind D.J. will be returning to the Bucks Summer League Team as he was basically deemed unplayable by both Jason Kidd and Joe Prunty in the 2017-2018 season; as well spent some time down in Oshkosh where he put up very underwhelming performances for the Wisconsin Herd.
What do I want to from D.J. Wilson during Summer League:
- Efficient shooting
- Strong rebounding/boxing out
- More Instagram videos of him working out
What do we want to see out of the 2017 first rounder? Well really any redeeming NBA quality skill would be nice, because as I see it there is not even one particular thing that Wilson does very well. The way Wilson can progress is by playing within his limits. The one positive to take from Wilson in the VERY SMALL sample size of NBA playing time was his 56% shooting.
Wilson is on a short leash which means he will get little opportunity, the best way to get back into the rotation is playing efficiently in the time he is given. Summer League will be a great starting point for that. No one is expecting him to light up the scoreboard, but if he can show consistent numbers like 10 point a game on above 50% shooting it could help regain trust in him from the coaching staff.
The next thing D.J. needs to do to have a successful summer is rebound. This was a concern of mine when he was drafted, and that has not changed in a year. The Bucks finished dead last in rebounds last season, so if there was an opportunity for Wilson to play last season it would be because he could rebound, which D.J. could not. If he could put up consistent rebounding numbers, it would go a long way heading into the regular season.
Lastly D.J., start posting videos on Instagram of you doing dribbling drills like every other NBA player in the off-season does to generate hype about how much you’ve changed your game in the past 3 months.
An especially interesting prospect that will play for the Bucks summer league team is Brandon McCoy, the 7’1″ Center from UNLV. McCoy played one season for the Rebels and averaged a double-double in points and rebounds. McCoy is a talented back to the basket type of center and if I had to choose a player who does not have a guaranteed contract to make the Bucks 18-19 roster it would be him.
What do I want to see from Brandon McCoy
- Finish around the rim
- Run the pick and roll
- Hit the offensive and defensive glass
The first thing that I want to see out of McCoy is the ability to finish in traffic, you would not think this would be an issue with his impressive physical characteristics, but during his time at UNLV he struggled converting contact shots on the inside.
The next thing that would be great to see is the ability to run a successful pick and roll. So much of the NBA relies on the pick and roll and if McCoy can show some quickness off the pick and roll, and successfully run it with guys like Donte Divicenzo and Perry Ellis (both players who should see the ball in their hands frequently during Summer League) that would transition very well into an NBA game. The icing on top of the cake would be to roll off the screen and hit some 15-20 foot jump shots.
If he can hit the glass hard, which is one of his strengths, and convert inside he should show tremendous value to a Bucks team who struggled to find consistency with their big men.
The NBA Summer League season is almost like a glorified AAU tournament, and although it would be nice for the Bucks to win the NBA Summer League, ultimately what matters is the progression of the players of the future. The Bucks Summer League season tips-off July 6th at 6:00 p.m. Central time as the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Detroit Pistons.
(all stats via basketballreference.com)