Wizards

2022 NBA Summer League: Standouts not on a main roster

Wizards
Mfiondu Kabengele
Mfiondu Kabengele earned a two-way contract with the Celtics after his play in Summer League.
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The NBA Summer League is a crucial opportunity for teams to test out their youth ahead of the regular season, but sometimes new players emerge unexpectedly.

As the 2022 Summer League has shown, there have been marquee performances from players who were not expected to steal the show.

In particular, these seven players not on a main NBA 15-man roster stood out from the 10-day tournament in Las Vegas: 

Mfiondu Kabengele, Boston Celtics

The former 27th overall pick in 2019, Kabengele has endured a rough start to his NBA career. He never got it going with the Los Angeles Clippers, and he was moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2020. However, a new change of scenery didn’t benefit the 6-foot-10 center, either.

Now on the Boston Celtics’ Summer League roster, he’s finally found a groove. Through five games, he’s averaged 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 steals with a 59/40/78 shooting split. His vision has improved and he’s shown he can hit 3s at a solid clip on 3.0 attempts. He might be able to push for the role Daniel Theis played last season as the Celtics signed him to a two-way contract just after their tournament ended on Saturday.

A.J. Lawson, Dallas Mavericks

Lawson has been one of the most efficient shooters in the tournament. The 6-foot-6 wing went undrafted in 2021 and was recently playing in the Canadian Elite Basketball League. The Dallas Mavericks brought him along to Vegas, and he has repaid their faith. The former South Carolina Gamecock has averaged 15.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists on a 52/50/85 shooting split in five games. That’s the type of profile the Mavericks need from a player alongside franchise cornerstone Luka Donĉić. 

 

Tommy Kuhse, Orlando Magic

Kuhse was a 2016 walk-on product with the Saint Mary’s Gaels, where he spent six seasons. He’s flipped that experience into a solid stretch of games in Vegas for the Orlando Magic squad. In three games, the 6-foot-2 guard has averaged 17.3 points, 3.3 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 rebounds on a 58/40/100 shooting split. He’s undersized for the shooting guard position and not exactly a lead ball handler, but he might be able to push for a roster spot due to his efficient shooting as a catch-and-shoot role player. 

Jeff Dowtin, Toronto Raptors

The Raptors love hard-nosed players who can defend multiple positions, so it should not be surprising that Dowtin, a 6-foot-3 guard, is filling up the stat sheet on both ends of the floor. The 25-year-old went undrafted in 2020 and has since spent time with the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and Magic, usually in the G League. 

In four games, Dowtin has put up averages of 16 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds with a 57/36/92 shooting split. Toronto is known for finding hidden gems and developing them into key role players. Maybe Dowtin is the next success story. 

Deividas Sirvydis, Detroit Pistons

Sirvydis was the 37th overall pick in 2019 by Dallas, but the Detroit Pistons acquired him via trade on draft night. He’s barely logged minutes in two seasons for the franchise and has been playing for the team’s G League affiliate. But the 6-foot-8 Lithuianan wing might be getting a stronger look ahead of next season, as he’s impressed with his offensive arsenal. He can catch-and-shoot, shoot off the dribble and attack open lanes downhill. 

In three games, Sirvydis has posted averages of 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 50% from deep on 6.7 attempts. If it’s not the Pistons that give him more reps at the next level, it might be another team. Wings of his size that can shoot like that are a hot commodity around the league. 

Jerrick Harding, Dallas Mavericks

Like Lawson, the Mavericks have gotten solid performances from Harding. A 6-foot-1 guard out of Weber State, Harding went undrafted in 2020 and didn’t get a further look from an NBA team. In 2020, he signed a professional contract overseas in the Czech National Basketball League, but e was picked up by Dallas for a go in Vegas.

Harding, 24, has also repaid the Mavericks’ faith, averaging 13.8 points and 4.0 assists on a 50/36/78 shooting split across five games. Dallas just lost a 6-foot-1 guard to the New York Knicks in Jalen Brunson. Could Harding push for a roster spot as well? 

Kevon Harris, Minnesota Timberwolves

As aforementioned, the Raptors love hard-nosed, versatile players. They had such a player in Harris, who played for Toronto’s G League affiliate last season after going undrafted in 2020. The 6-foot-6 wing out of Stephen F. Austin has been impressive for the Timberwolves, averaging 15.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists on a 58/46/73 shooting split after five games. Minnesota could use more players like this on the squad following Rudy Gobert’s arrival, which saw wings like Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt depart.