2021 NBA Summer League Players That Didn’t Impress

| August 23, 2021 8:43 am PDT

The 2021 Summer League is officially in the books. The Sacramento Kings took the championship with a dominant 33-point victory over the Boston Celtics.

We saw a lot of young players stand out this summer and prove they belonged in the NBA. However, there were some players that underwhelmed and made us reconsider their NBA future.

Let’s look at some of the biggest disappointments from the 2021 NBA Summer League.

Cole Anthony – Orlando Magic

Cole Anthony is not someone I expected to see on this list of 2021 NBA Summer League disappointments.

The Orlando Magic point guard had a very successful rookie season. He missed a lot of time in the middle of the season, but he really came on strong late in the season. Anthony scored 10 or more points in 19 of his final 22 games of the season. He concluded his season with a career-high 37 points.

For his rookie season, he averaged 12.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.

Coming into the Summer League, I expected Anthony to be one of those players that was too good to be playing. However, his play couldn’t have inspired the Magic.

Anthony’s Summer League began with a pair of dreadful shooting performances. Check out his scoring and shooting from his first two games.

Stat Game 1 Game 2
Points 6 4
Field Goal Shooting 1-9 (11.1 percent) 2-10 (20.0 percent)
Three-Point Shooting 1-4 (25.0 percent) 0-3 (0.0 percent)

His third game was a little better but not by much. He scored five points on 33.3 percent shooting from both the field and three-point range.

I will say Anthony looked much better in his final Summer League game. He scored 15 points and went 6-13 from the field. He also had seven rebounds.

Overall, Anthony averaged 7.5 points on 28.9 percent shooting. His other stats weren’t too impressive with 4.2 rebounds per game and 2.2 assists per game.

I’m sure the Magic will value Anthony’s rookie season much more than his Summer League, but it can’t be good for his minutes. Markelle Fultz and fifth overall pick Jalen Suggs, will likely battle Anthony for the starting point guard position.

Fultz is coming off an ACL tear but he was the starter when healthy last season.

Suggs had a strong Summer League, so I’m sure the Magic want him on the floor early in the season.

Anthony will still have a spot in the rotation but he may have lost some minutes.

Keon Johnson – Los Angeles Clippers

Keon Johnson slid a bit in the 2021 NBA Draft. Because of that, the NBA Summer League gave him an opportunity to show other teams they made a mistake by passing on him.

Following the Summer League, the Los Angeles Clippers may be the one wondering if they made a mistake.

Johnson did not shoot the ball well this summer. In his first game, he went 4-16 from the field and 0-5 from three-point range en route to an eight-point game. Things didn’t get any better as he went 1-8 on three-point attempts in his second game.

Did we see any improvement in Johnson’s third game? Nope. He scored six points while shooting 3-10 from the field. Johnson also failed to make a three-pointer.

He finally had an efficient game with 17 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. Johnson also knocked down three of his five three-point attempts.

Unfortunately, things went back downhill in his final game with just four points on 1-7 shooting.

Here are Johnson’s final stats from a dreadful Summer League.

  • 8.6 points
  • 5.2 rebounds
  • 28.8 field goal percentage
  • 20.0 three-point percentage
  • 57.1 free throw percentage

Talk about a brutal summer.

The big worry coming into the NBA was his shooting. Johnson made 27.1 percent of his three-point attempts in his lone season at Tennessee. He also made just 70.3 percent of his free throws.

Los Angeles is pretty deep at the guard position, so I can’t imagine Johnson receives a ton of playing time this season. I imagine he’ll start the season in the G League, where he can hopefully improve his shooting.

Johnson broke the record for the highest vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but that won’t mean much if he can’t shoot the ball.

Hopefully, Johnson can work on his shooting and become a contributor for the Clippers late in the season.

Killian Hayes – Detroit Pistons

Killian Hayes had a lot of hype surrounding him as the seventh overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. However, he didn’t impress many people in his rookie season.

Hayes missed nearly three months with a hip injury, but he did return for the final month of the season. He had an impressive performance late in the season with 21 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds.

He finished the season averaging 6.8 points and 5.3 assists.

The hope this summer was Hayes would work on his shooting. Unfortunately, that didn’t really happen.

To begin the Summer League, Hayes had a solid all-around performance with six points, nine rebounds, and five assists. However, Pistons fans probably weren’t happy with his 2-6 shooting from the field.

In the following game, Hayes continued to struggle by going 3-8 from the field. He also failed to make a three-pointer for the second consecutive game.

Unlike the players we’ve discussed, Hayes didn’t have a breakout game. His final game consisted of seven points on 2-8 shooting. If you want to take away a positive, he did knock down his first three-pointer of the summer.

Let’s look at Hayes’ final stats.

  • 6.3 points
  • 5.3 rebounds
  • 4.7 assists
  • 31.8 field goal percentage
  • 18.2 three-point percentage

Shooting under 20 percent from three-point range is not optimal for a point guard.

Last season, Hayes shot just 35.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from three. We’re just not seeing the improvement we’d like to see.

I have to wonder if this poor performance kicks Hayes to the bench this season.

First overall pick Cade Cunningham played some point guard and shooting guard in the Summer League. His 6’ 8” height makes him an option for positions 1-3, but his passing works best at the point guard position.

Hayes is a solid defender, but he needs to continue to work on his offensive game.

Evan Mobley – Cleveland Cavaliers

Evan Mobley had a lot of success in his lone season at USC. Mobley had his fair share of big moments with 12 double-doubles. The seven-foot center averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.9 rebounds.

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Mobley third overall in this year’s draft. Being a top-three pick comes with high expectations.

That’s why I was a little underwhelmed by his Summer League performance.

Mobley impressed in his first game with three blocks and a solid 12 points. However, he went just 6-17 from the field. Mobley also missed both his three-point shots and free throws.

His scoring remained high with a 14-point game, but his field goal percentage went down. He shot 33.3 percent from the field. I will give Mobley props for his solid all-around attack with seven rebounds and six assists.

In his final game, his scoring came down and he once again struggled from the field. Here are Mobley’s scoring and shooting numbers from his final Summer League game.

  • 8 points
  • 4-11 field goal percentage
  • 0-3 three-point attempts

Overall, Mobley finished the Summer League averaging 11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks. Those stats certainly aren’t bad, but it goes downhill when you look at his shooting numbers.

He shot 34.9 percent from the field, 12.5 percent from three-point range, and 50.0 percent from the free-throw line.

The shooting percentage definitely worries me because he struggled down low in the post. It’s imperative for big men in this league to excel in the paint. If not, he’d need a three-point shot to rely on. He missed seven of his eight three-point attempts this summer.

I will say that Mobley flashed some promise with his defense as well as rebounding performance. He didn’t do as bad as some other players, but the expectations were higher because he was a top-three pick.

As long as Mobley improves his field goal percentage, I don’t expect there to be too many issues.

Tremont Waters – Houston Rockets

The name Tremont Waters may not stand out to most people. But the 5’ 10’ point guard had a successful two-year run at LSU.

He averaged 15.6 points and made 34.0 percent of his three-point shots. The Boston Celtics drafted him in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Waters bounced back-and-forth between the NBA and G League. He never made much of an impact with just 3.8 points in 37 games. Waters became a free agent following the 2021 season.

During the Summer League, the Houston Rockets had some injuries so they decided to give Waters a chance. However, Waters had an unforgettable shooting performance.

In his first game, he scored five points on 1-9 shooting. He also made just one of his five three-point attempts. Waters did impress in other areas with nine rebounds and five steals.

His poor shooting continued in his second and final Summer League game. Waters once again had nine field goal attempts, making two of them this time. He only scored four points and didn’t make any of his three-pointers.

Waters averaged the sixth-most minutes in the Summer League. Let’s look at how the first five players did compared to Waters.

Player Points Field Goal % Three-Point %
Obi Toppin 21.0 44.5 34.3
Patrick Williams 21.0 37.9 43.8
Immanuel Quickley 20.2 33.7 24.0
Quentin Grimes 15.3 41.6 40.7
Jalen Smith 16.3 36.5 35.7
Tremont Waters 4.5 16.7 11.1

High impact players usually receive those minutes. The first five players took advantage of their opportunity while Waters did not.

Waters isn’t a big name, so high expectations were low. However, this is a player that needed a strong performance to make a team. His poor shooting will likely lead him right back to free agency.

It would surprise me if Waters found himself on the Rockets roster after the Summer League.

Other 2021 NBA Summer League Disappointments

  • Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic)
  • Tre Mann (Oklahoma City Thunder)

A few guys nearly made the list, but their performances weren’t as disappointing as others.

Franz Wagner made an impact with his versatility and defense, but his 2-13 three-point shooting is not something you want to see.

Tre Mann is another player who struggled shooting. He went 7-29 from the field and 0-6 from three-point range.

While these 2021 NBA Summer League players disappointed, others took advantage of the spotlight. Check out the top players that impressed in 2021 NBA Summer League.

Nicholas Sterling
Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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