The NBA Summer League for elite NBA teams is usually downplayed, due to its unimportance in the whole scheme of things. Though organized basketball in the month of July is a straight delicacy, fans aren’t reading into the results or the performances of the players as much.
The same goes for the Thunder, especially considering their mysterious second-round draft pick Darius Bazley not being listed on the Summer League roster.
With one of OKC’s glaring shortcomings being lack of bench production, this summer league will feature three or four guys that have a prime opportunity to stick out and bid for some playing time this season.
Diallo showed plenty of flashes of greatness early in the 18-’19 season, highlighted by a 2019 NBA Slam Dunk Contest title during All-Star weekend where he jumped over Shaquille O’Neal. Almost like clockwork, after the break, Diallo only saw the court eight times in the final 30 games and struggled with injury.
Diallo, at just 20 years old, could be an important piece to OKC’s run this next season. Will he take a leap after a streaky rookie campaign, or did last year’s experience hamper his development?
Deonte Burton was the another one of OKC’s athletic new-comers and he sports an unusually unorthodox physique, standing at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds. Burton became one of the Thunder crowd’s favorite after plenty of explosive, athletic plays early in the season.
Burton’s future is not guaranteed, because his contract isn’t guaranteed. He’s older, at 25-years old. So, instead of using that as a negative, Burton can use his age and maturity to his advantage to capitalize on having increased ball-handling responsibilities through the Summer League.
Luguentz Dort was projected by some NBA scouts to be a late first-round pick. Well, the Pac-12 Rookie of the Year plummeted down the draft, didn’t get selected and Sam Presti decided to take a chance on him, signing Dortz to a two-way contract.
The Arizona State star is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and has a great chance to show his talents in the Las Vegas Summer League and in the meantime since he was drafted as a free agent, it won’t count against OKC’s salary cap. Dort has a lot of promise, with a nice frame and was one of the best players in the Pac 12 last season.
The NBA Summer League starts this weekend in Las Vegas on Saturday against Utah (2 p.m., NBA TV).