The NBA’s annual Summer League tournaments kick off Monday night in Salt Lake City and Sacramento. Eight former Michigan players are set to participate, with the possibility of a ninth participating in the summer showcase.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (2014-2018)
MAAR will try and use his one season of G-League experience with the Canton Charge (6.5 PPG, 41.8 FG% 35.8 3P% 1.9 APG 1.6 RPG in 49 games in 2018-19) and a strong campaign in Las Vegas to try and make the NBA roster now coached by his former collegiate coach, John Beilein. MAAR was a favorite of Beilein’s during his four years in Ann Arbor, so there’s little doubt the former Wolverine now has even more incentive to impress over the next several weeks.
Golden State Warriors - Jordan Poole (2017-2019)
The Warriors drafted Poole with the 28th overall pick on June 20th. With Warriors guard Klay Thompson set to miss a large chunk of the regular season after tearing his ACL in the NBA Finals, Poole will try and catch up to NBA speed quickly to earn his way into a spot in Steve Kerr’s rotation as a rookie. Warriors G-League affiliate (Santa Cruz Warriors) coach Aaron Miles, who will coach Golden State’s Summer League squad, gave a brief assessment of Poole to Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News.
“Jordan’s a very skilled player. He’s got a lot of ball skills. He can shoot the basketball well. Jordan has the ability to get to the paint but he can also really shoot the basketball in transition and so forth.” Miles said.
Miami Heat - Duncan Robinson (2014-2018)
Robinson was the feel-good story of the Summer League in 2018. After going undrafted, the former Williams College wing played well enough in Las Vegas to earn a G-League contract with the Heat’s affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. In 33 games with Sioux Falls, Robinson shined, scoring 21.4 points per game shooting 51.4% from the field. Robinson’s performance earned him a full two-year contract with the Heat. He will try to continue his development as the Heat are potentially undergoing a makeover of sorts with the retirement of future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade after sixteen seasons.
Milwaukee Bucks - D.J. Wilson (2014-2017)
Wilson is the player with the most NBA experience of any former Wolverine playing Summer League ball. The 2017 first round pick played 48 games for the Bucks last season, starting three as Milwaukee stormed its way to the first seed in the East behind the play of NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. After making the leap from year one to year two, Wilson could parlay a strong Summer League performance into a springboard for a more significant role in Mike Budenholzer’s plans for the 2019-20 season.
New Orleans Pelicans - Aubrey Dawkins* (2014-2016)
While Dawkins did finish his college career at Central Florida, he played 66 games at Michigan, so for this list, he counts. Dawkins averaged 15.6 points and five rebounds while shooting 40% from 3-point range during his one season playing at UCF. His 32 point performance in the Knights second-round loss to Duke put many eyes on him and likely influenced his decision to forego his final year of eligibility, with some draft boards putting him as a potential second round pick. Dawkins went undrafted but signed with New Orleans just an hour after the NBA Draft. At 24 years old, Dawkins is five years and 28 days older than fellow rookie Zion Williamson. Dawkins might be a long shot to make the Pelicans roster, but he will look to put on Duke-level performances while in Las Vegas.
New York Knicks - Ignas Brazdeikis (2018-19) and Zak Irvin (2013-2017)
Brazdeikis will get his first taste of pro hoops after being selected by the Knicks with the 47th overall pick in the draft. With the Knicks missing out on several targets in free agency and the draft (no KD, no Kyrie, no Zion) Brazdeikis will look to earn his way into the rotation behind second-year starter Kevin Knox. A former Michigan wing will join the 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Irvin. Irvin spent the 2018-19 season playing for the Knicks G-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, averaging 11.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game over a 30 game sample. Both players could play together on the floor which will make for a fun watch for Michigan Basketball fans.
San Antonio Spurs - Darius Morris (2009-2011)
Morris has bounced around the NBA and the G-League (and even briefly played in China) since departing Ann Arbor as a sophomore after the 2010-11 season. While Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014-15 season, in 2018-19, he found consistent playing time and put up substantial numbers for the second time in three seasons in his first year with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Morris started 25 of 34 games he played in and averaged 15.2 points on 40% shooting along with six assists per game. This year will mark Morris’ second Summer League stint with the Spurs after playing for San Antonio in the 2014 Summer League.
Washington Wizards - Moritz Wagner? (2015-2018)
Wagner’s presence in Summer League is currently up in the air after his trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Wizards last week. The Wizards have yet to announce their Summer League roster but if Wagner plays, he will join a who’s who of recent NCAA standouts like 2019 draft picks Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga) and Admiral Schofield (Tennessee) in addition to undrafted free agents Justin Robinson (Virginia Tech) Corey Davis Jr. (Houston) and Garrison Mathews (Lipscomb)
The Summer League kicks of with games in Salt Lake City and Sacramento Monday through Wednesday. After a break for the Fourth of July holiday, the Las Vegas Summer League will begin Friday July 5th. The Spurs, Cavs, Heat and Warriors all open play on Monday night and those games can be viewed on NBA TV. With so many Michigan Basketball players participating, it will be a fun couple weeks for fans to watch former Wolverines try to show out in summer ball.