The dog days of summer league give us time to reflect. Reflect on players who watched the tick of 60 picks go by, but never heard their name called. What’s the next part of their journey. These players have to fight through summer league or in the G League or even play overseas before getting their big break.
One thing all of these 10 players have in common is they are built tough because they had to be. This list includes NBA champions, rising stars, and quality NBA starters as well as solid role players.
10. Aron Baynes
Baynes is an Australian big man who does the little things very well. Things like battling on the offensive glass, anchoring a defense, altering shots, taking charges, and setting screens to free up shooters. I’ll call him the Australian Ed Davis.
Baynes has had a pretty decent career after winning a championship with the Spurs in 2014. Baynes thrived as a backup with Detroit. Made his name in Boston as a starting center. Now, in Phoenix, he’ll bring toughness and grit to a young team that needs it.
9. Bryn Forbes
Bryn Forbes is decent combo guard for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s a viable playmaker, lethal sharpshooter, and walking bucket at times. Sensing a theme here the Spurs have a knack for finding hidden gems.
A career 41% three-point shooter shot his shot with the league and it paid him back in waves. One of the best young shooters in the game.
8. JaMychal Green
Green had a crazy road to the NBA after going undrafted in 2012. Green got his first start with the Spurs summer league team, then went to play in France for a year. Green spent numerous times in the G League with the Austin Toros. Eventually, he would get his big shot after playing his way into a contract after two 10 day stints with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Green now plays for the Clippers and has become known as an NBA glue guy. A solid two-way presence. Though undersized for his position, Green makes up for it with his big heart. A heart that he carries with himself every time he’s out there. A big part of the Clippers current gritty identity.
7. Kent Bazemore
The Baze gaze as they call it went from being a cheerleader at the end of the Warriors bench getting career highs in giving fives to teammates to being a quality starter in the NBA. The Chance the Rapper doppelganger thrived for the Lakers and Hawks as an exceptional 3 and D guy.
Now, RIP City will embrace his presence. Let’s take a minute to talk about someone who went from undrafted to getting a 4-year contract worth $72 Million. Talk about a good journey and a better agent.
6. Quinn Cook
The combo guard out of Duke went undrafted and spent time with the Canton Charge and Dallas Mavericks during the 2016-17 season. However, before his Golden State Warrior tenure, the guard only had 14 games of NBA experience shared between the Pelicans and Mavericks. Quinn Cook got his shot due to Stephen Curry’s injury. Cook started 18 games during the Warriors 2017-18 Championship run.
Coming off two finals appearances with the Warriors, Cook will take his playmaking and deadeye three-point marksman skills to the LA Lakers. Could very well be the new Lakers starting point guard.
5. Derrick Jones Jr.
Jones Jr. went undrafted coming out of UNLV. A freak athlete broke into the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, but is now thriving and flying with the Miami Heat. This guy is so high up on this list because of his potential for stardom.
Jones Jr. has tremendous athleticism and is putting an all-around game together. Probably, the most upside on the Miami Heat. The jump shot will come, but the 6’7 wing is more than a high flyer. The uptick in these rankings is due to his incredible defensive instincts and wingspan.
4. Tyler Johnson
There is a reason Mr. Johnson went from going undrafted out of Fresno State to being an NBA starter making millions. The work ethic of this young guard is tenacious. Johnson is a savvy two-way player who has sneaky athleticism coupled with a silky shooting stroke.
There is a reason why he is on a big 13 mil per year contract because the guy played up to earn those bills. The Suns may have found their point guard in Tyler Johnson or potential sixth man of the year.
3. Robert Covington
Covington had to make an impact on the G league to get playing time with the Rockets and a real shot with the Philadelphia 76ers soon after. There is a reason a 10-72 Sixers team stayed the course with Lord Covington.
This swingman has emerged as one of the best 3 and D guys in the whole association. The Timberwolves are currently reaping the benefits of his skills and defensive versatility.
2. Joe Ingles
Joe Ingles has an amazing game as an underrated playmaker with good defensive intangibles and above-average perimeter stroke. Ingles is typically charged with being a 2nd option for the Utah Jazz and guarding the best player on the defensive side of the ball.
The Australian shocked all of us mates by coming from overseas and becoming an immediate rotational piece on the Jazz. Ingles is a tremendous point forward and has helped fill the void Gordon Hayward left when he went to Boston in free agency.
1. Fred VanVleet
Freddy VanVleet has quite the story coming out of Wichita State. VanVleet is your classic MyCareer player story to a tee. Playing through summer league and fighting through training camp just to the 15th roster spot on the Toronto Raptors. The young combo guard would not see much action right away until Kyle Lowry went down to injury and he became the back-up point guard.
The uptick in minutes saw a surge in his play. Fred is a scrappy defender and solid three-point sniper. It all has culminated in a 6th man rotation spot and an NBA Championship. That’s not bad at all Freddy.