With the 2022 summer league coming to an end, we have now caught a glimpse of the leagues soon to be stars playing at a semi-NBA level. The Summer League doesn’t have nearly as much talent as the NBA but it is definitely competitive. Most of the players in the summer league are competing for a spot an NBA roster, this leads to physical/high-paced basketball that is wildly entertaining to viewers.
Usually when players perform well in the summer league, it carries over to the NBA. This is not always the case however, here we take a look at some of the best summer league players that could not carve out a consistent role in the NBA. (Click here to see NBA stars that had bad Summer league performances)
Glen Rice Jr.
Glen Rice Jr. absolutely dominated in the 2014-2015 summer league after being drafted in the 2nd round by the 76er’s and traded to the Wizards. Glen had the most PPG in the summer league, outscoring big NBA names today like CJ McCollum, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Giannis Antetokounmpo. His solid ISO game, athletic ability, and strong frame made him the perfect candidate to thrive in the fast paced summer league.
After his stellar summer league performance, Glen played 2 seasons with the Washington Wizards before being released in 2015. Glen has had a long history of off the court issues, which likely kept him from reaching his full potential. He has gained a reputation for causing issues in the locker room, making it gamble for any team to take chance on the talented forward. He is now in Ice Cube’s BIG 3, which seems like the perfect fit for the forward having minimal teammates to build chemistry with.
After playing only one season at Kansas, Josh Selby was selected in the second round of the 2011 NBA draft. Josh was a 5 star recruit coming out of high school but did not show his full potential at Kansas due to suspensions and injury. Despite his stock being low, Josh had his mind set on being “One and done” and declared for the NBA draft. Josh’s first year with the Grizzlies was mainly a bench role, only appearing in 28 games averaging 8.5 min per game.
In an effort to prove he belongs in the NBA, Josh dominated the 2012-2013 summer league earning himself co-MVP with now NBA superstar Damian Lillard. This did not help however, as he was out of the NBA within the next 2 years. After leaving the NBA, Selby went to go play overseas in various leagues but never carving out a long term role on any team.
Josh may have had an entirely different career if the NBA allowed players to come straight out of high school. Grizzlies General manager said “We’re taking him off his high school pedigree”, meaning his time at Kansas likely only hurt his draft stock. Today, elite players who have no interest in college go straight to the G-league or go play overseas as an alternative route to the NBA. If Josh had the options players have today, he could potentially still be in the league.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili was drafted by the Denver Nuggets 5th overall in the 2002 NBA draft. The hype around the Georgian forward was intense leading up to the NBA draft, being called the next Dirk Nowitzki/Pau Gasol of the NBA. Unfortunately, his skills from the Italian league did not translate to the much more physical/athletic NBA. In his best season with the Nuggets, the forward averaging 3.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists.
After 2 disappointing seasons, the forward exploded during the 04-05 summer league averaging 25.7 points per game. This was not enough to impress NBA scouts however, as he was released at the end of the 2005 season and never re-signed. He attempted to make an NBA come back in 2015, almost making the Clippers roster joining the big man ranks of DeAndre Jordan and Cole Aldrich but was unsuccessful. The forward is now playing in Ice Cube’s BIG 3.
Sean May was drafted 13th overall in the 2005 NBA draft by the Charlotte Bobcats (Hornets today). After winning the national championship with North Carolina, Sean May’s draft stock was at an all time high landing him in the first round. Sean was known for his ability to rebound and outstanding hands, rarely fumbling the ball on post entry’s. His big frame allowed him to easily create space in the paint and his footwork allowed him to create shots for him and his teammates.
Sean started his professional out strong, earning summer league MVP of the Rocky Mountain Revue pro summer league in Salt Lake City. He was poised for an successful NBA career but was held back by several knee/foot injuries. With his athleticism already in question completely healthy, he was out of the league in 5 years and competed overseas until retiring in 2015. He is now an assistance coach at North Carolina.
Memphis selected Donte in the late first round of the 2008 NBA draft and was eventually traded to the Kings where he would play all four seasons of his NBA career. After only playing one year at Syracuse, Donte was projected to go in the early first round but slipped because he was still considered a “raw” talent. Donte showed off his scoring in the summer league after being drafted, averaging 18.7 points and playing with pure confidence trying to prove the teams that passed on him wrong.
Donte’s career was short-lived however, spending most of his time in the NBA as a role player on a losing team. Many question if this would of been the same outcome if Donte would of stayed more than one year at Syracuse and developed his skills, body, and mental toughness needed for the NBA. After his time spent in the NBA, he played overseas for several years and is now playing in the BIG 3.